Prisoner free exercise cases – November 16, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wolcott v. Board of Rabbis, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151861 (ED CA, Nov. 6, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted by Jewish chaplains to convert to Judaism because he was serving a life sentence.

In Womack v. Perry, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152588 (ED CA, Nov.10, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s general complaint that the warden has denied inmates in C-yard Friday services for the past 8 months.

In Atkinson v. MacKinnon, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153033 (WD WI, Nov. 12, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that retaliatory action (reducing his prison job grade and hours) was taken when he complained of religious harassment.  The court held that plaintiff had no more administrative remedies because the warden had promised to investigate his claim.

In Spears v. Curcillo, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153320 (MD PA, Nov. 12, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his Bible was confiscated when he was moved into the Restricted Housing Unit.

In Holcomb v. Quinn, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153572 (D SC, Nov. 12, 2015), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153789, Oct. 21, 2015), and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that the free exercise rights of a 3A Qabalah group were infringed when a corrections officer required them to remove the strings they wore on their left wrists.