Prisoner free exercise cases – September 08, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Washington v. Afify, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125523 (WD NY, Sept. 3, 2013), a New York federal district court dismissed claims by a Muslim inmate that his free exercise rights were infringed by assignment of a cell mate who exposed him to pornographic images and sexually explicit TV and music; that he was denied “religious” meals during Ramadan unless he agreed to work in the mess hall; and that he was not allowed to attend religious services because of misbehavior reports.

In McCallon v. Lasalle Management Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125768 (WD LA, Sept. 3, 2013), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125765, Aug. 5, 2013) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints regarding the method of appointing an imam, limitations on participation in Jum’ah services, an improper Ramadan diet and no Eid feast.

In Price v. White, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125946 (WD KY, Sept. 3, 2013), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to proceed with his claim that his free exercise and RLUIPA rights were violated when he was forced to shave his head while in segregation, in violation of his religious beliefs. 

In Watts v. Byars, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126148 (D SC, Sept. 3, 2013), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125997, June 10, 2013) and rejected a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was served a vegetarian rather than a Halal menu.

In Martz v. Sci-Coal Township Therapeutic Community, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125884 (MD PA, Sept. 4, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed on his claim that he was denied parole on his earliest release date for failure to attend a drug and alcohol program whose secular option to the religious/spiritual segment existed only on paper and not in reality.

In Patel v. Brewton, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126242 (SD GA, Sept. 4, 2013), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be permitted to proceed on his complaint that defendant improperly ended his religious meals.

In Taylor v. Hubbard, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126311 (ED CA, Sept. 4, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate who practiced Thelema to proceed with claims that some of his religious items were confiscated. Other claims were dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

In Tatum v. Clarke, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126821 (ED WI, Sept. 5, 2013), a Wisconsin federal district court rejected an inmate’s claim that while in jail he was subjected to a year-long retaliatory conspiracy based on his religion. However he was permitted to proceed with certain other religion claims.

In Allen v. Mikarimi, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126996 (ND CA, Sept. 5, 2013), a California federal district court dismissed certain defendants and permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed against others on his complaint that Muslims were denied group worship services, while other religious groups were allowed them.

In Ricks v. Albitre, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127662 (ED CA, Sep. 5, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge held that an inmate could proceed against certain of the defendants on the claim that they substantially burdened the practice of his religion by failing to provide Wiccan services and failing to purchase Wiccan materials and artifacts.