Prisoner free exercise cases – November 23, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Robbins v. Toole, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160274 (SD GA, Nov. 14, 2014), Georgia magistrate judge allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was not being given food that meets his religious requirements.

In Malipurathu v. Johnson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160529 (ND OK, Nov. 13, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court dismissed complaints by a Sikh inmate that he was not permitted to obtain a halal diet until he listed his religion as Sikh/ Islam.  Plaintiff never requested that the Department of Corrections add the Sikh religion to the list of those entitled to a halal diet. The court also dismissed various complaints about the content of halal meals served to plaintiff.

In Snodgrass v. Robinson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161517 (WD VA, Nov. 17, 2014), a Virginia federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to participate in the 2013 Ramadan fast.

In Amos v. Stolzer, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161557 (ED MO, Nov. 18, 2014), a Missouri federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed against a jail sergeant, but not against other defendants, in his complaint that he was denied halal food, a “hardback” Qur’an, a “prayer rug” and access to religious services with an Imam.  His Establishment Clause claim based on the absence of Muslim clergy on the authorized clergy list was dismissed.

In Pegues v. Billingsley, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161842 (CD IL, Nov. 19, 2014), an Illinois federal district court permitted a “vegetarian Ethiopian Jewish” pre-trial detainee to proceed with his complaint that he has been denied pastoral care from any religious volunteers, and has been denied the opportunity to meet with religious leaders in retaliation for his filing complaints.