Prisoner free exercise cases – November 28, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

InPorter v. Wegman, (9th Cir., Nov. 23, 2016), the 9th Circuit reversed a distrcit court’s summary judgment for defendant and remanded for trial an inmate’s complaint that he was wrongly switched from a kosher diet to a vegetarian diet and was denied dietary accommodations during multi-day Passover observances.

In Davilla v. Watts, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160966 (SD GA, Nov. 21, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended denying a preliminary injunction to a Santeria practitioner who sought additional ability to practice his religion.

In Sanford v. Madison County, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161906 (SD IL, Nov. 22, 2016). an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161904, Nov. 4, 2016) and allowed a Muslim inmate to file an amended complaint alleging that defendants imposed unconstitutional restrictions on his religious practices.

In White v. Wright, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161870 (ED WI, Nov. 22, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that jail authorities interfered with, and harassed him during, his prayers, and often denied him his vegan diet.

In Yah’Torah v. Hicks, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162315 (D NJ, Nov. 22, 2016), a New Jersey federal magistrate judge permitted an inmate to reinstate the head of the Religious Issues Committee as a defendant in his suit complaining that he was denied access to fragrant oils for religious purposes.

In Hauseur v. Clark, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162849 (ED CA, Nov. 22, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing amendments to assert claims under California’s Civil Code 51.7 and the Bane Act by an inmate who complained about the standards for kosher meals he received and about the failure to provide Jewish religious services on many occasions. The court dismissed plaintiff’s claim under the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

In Hedin v. Castillo, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162528 (D OR, Nov. 23, 2016), an Oregon federal district court adopted a magistrate’s findings (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163020, Sept. 27, 2016) and dismissed on various grounds claims by an inmate that changes had restricted his ability to practice his Asatru faith.

In Fletcher v. Kelly, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162443 (ED AR, Nov. 23, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163028, Oct. 28, 2016) and dismissed (for failure to exhaust administrative remedies against him) one of the defendants in a suit by a Cherokee Nation inmate who is seeking use of a sweat lodge and a number of other ceremonial items.