Prisoner free exercise cases – September 17, 2012

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Strother v. Myers2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126896 (ED CA, Sept. 6, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a Muslim inmate’s complaint seeking an injunction and $1 million in damages in a challenge to prison policies governing religious headgear, religious oils, and use of the chapel.

In Harrison v. Tarnoff2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127664 (ED CA, Sept. 6, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to have a religious name change to obtain a Muslim name.

In Furnace v. Giurbino2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128659 (ED CA, Sept. 5, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate who practices Shetaut Neter to proceed with his claim that he is being denied his required religious vegetarian diet. The court held that the claim is not barred by res judicata since a prior suit by plaintiff involved a different prison.

In Taylor v. Williamson2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129041 (CD IL, Sept. 11, 2012), an Illinois federal district court denied motions for summary judgment and scheduled a jury trial in a case in which an inmate of the Hebrew Israelite religion complained that his requests for a vegetarian or kosher diet have been denied.

In Totten v. Caldwell2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129104 (ED MI, Sept. 11, 2012), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129124, July 31, 2012) and permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed against the prison chaplain for failing to schedule the Eid-al-Adha prayer service. However the court dismissed a lengthy list of other claims against several defendants claiming a variety of interferences with plaintiff’s ability to practice his Muslim religion.

In Neasman v. Swarthout2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130292 (ED CA, Sept. 12, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge, in recommending denial ofhabeas corpus, rejected an inmate’s claim that the parole board required him to participate in a faith based substance abuse program.

In Robinson v. Parker2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129040 (WD KY, Sept. 11, 2012), a Kentucky federal district court, while dismissing several claims, permitted a member of the Moorish Science Temple of American Islamism Faith to proceed with his claim under RLUIPA for injunctive relief based on the prison’s refusal to permit him, for religious reasons, to use “El” as part of his name in making records requests and the like.