Prisoner free exercise cases – November 7, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Sioleski v. Capra, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150556 (SD NY, Oct. 31, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that authorities refuse to recognize him as a Native American because he did not prove tribal affiliation; thus he is unable to attend Native American religious services, festivals and dances.

In Sokolsky v. California, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150754 (ED CA, Oct. 31, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge denied a preliminary injunction to a civil detainee complaining that his rights to practice his Jewish religion were infringed and he was denied medically appropriate food.

In Chesser v. Rivas, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151944 (SD IL, Nov. 2, 2016), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and, while dismissing a number of claims, permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his equal protection challenge to restrictions on his teaching or learning Arabic and wearing shortened pants.

In Chesser v. Walton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151940 (SD IL, Nov. 2, 2016), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s challenge to the congregate prayer policy that limited limited Muslims to once a week instead of the five daily group prayers. However plaintiff was permitted to proceed with his retaliation claim.

In Quezada v. Cate, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152213 (ED CA, Nov. 1, 2016),  a California federal magistrate judge recommended concluding that plaintiff met the criteria for a “vexatious litigant” and should be required to post $10,000 in security before proceeding with his complaint that he was denied Jewish kosher meals.