Prisoner free exercise cases – November 5, 2012

In Muhammad v. Sapp, (11th Cir., Nov. 1, 2012), the 11th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s claim that the Department of Corrections shaving and forced shaving policies violated his free exercise and RLUIPA rights, and also rejected his 8th Amendment claim growing out of his forced shaving with chemical agents.

In Ouahman v. Barnes2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153493 (D NH, Oct. 25, 2012), a New Hampshire federal district court approved a magistrate’s recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153508, Oct. 1, 2012) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that he was denied a Qur’an, a prayer rug and the ability to observe Ramadan.

In Emmett v. Affey2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154535 (SD TX, Oct. 26, 2012), a Texas federal district court dismissed claims by an inmate who had changed his religious preference to Native American that he had been unable to transfer to a Native-American designated prison unit, that he was initially given an obsolete version of the Native American religious test, and that his second test was not submitted to the chaplaincy department. The court also dismissed his claim that Native American religious practitioners are discriminated against.

In Walker v. Iske2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154780  (MD FL, Oct. 29, 2012), a Florida federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not furnished with a diet that met the requirements of the Qur’an, even though Jewish prisoners could receive a kosher diet.

In Barstad v. Washington State Department of Corrections2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155456 (WD WA, Oct. 30, 2012), an inmate sued claiming that the prison system’s policy of consolidating all forms of vegetarian religious diets into one mainline alternative vegan diet violates his rights by requiring him to have a diet more restrictive than the ovo-lacto requirements of his religion. The court rejected the recommendation of the federal magistrate judge (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155503, Aug. 31, 2012) to dismiss the Department of Corrections and 30 defendants who were served by mail at inaccurate addresses.

In Fuller v. Prelesnik2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155765 (WD MI, Oct. 31, 2012), a Michigan federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed against certain defendants on his claim that he was wrongly removed from the kosher food program and that the prison’s program did not meet Michigan Department of Corrections kosher meal standards.

In Sledge v. Lundy2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156346 (ED CA, Oct. 31, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he received cold Halal meals while regulations called for hot meals.

In Keystone v. Hinkle2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157042 (WD VA, Oct. 31, 2012), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that prison officials refused to use his now-legal name “Keystone” instead of the name under which he was committed, “Keyes.” The court held in part that plaintiff had not sufficiently plead that the name change stemmed from religious motivations, and that at any rate the prison regulations have a legitimate penological purpose.

In Watkins v. Rogers2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155879 (WD OK, Oct. 31, 2012), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156956, Sept. 28, 2012) and dismissed without prejudice a former inmate’s claim that he was denied a total of four religious meals over a two day period at a transfer center, and defendant in this case was involved in only one of those meals.