Prisoner free exercise cases – September 22, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131525 (D HI, Sept. 13, 2013), a Hawaii federal district court dismissed the governor of Hawaii as a defendant in a suit complaining that plaintiffs were unable to observe their Native Hawaiian religion at two private prisons in Arizona in which Hawaii houses inmates. The court also dismissed as to all defendants a claim under the Hawaii constitution.

In Chernetsky v. Nevada, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132804 (D NV, Sept. 17, 2013), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132806, Aug. 14, 2013) and refused to permit a Wiccan inmate to file an amended complaint asserting constitutional claims that were previously abandoned on appeal.

In Muhammad v. Jenkins, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132913 (SD NY, Sept. 13, 2013), a New York federal district court denied qualified immunity in a suit against a parole officer who allegedly for retaliatory reasons barred a Nation of Islam parolee from attending the mosque of his choice and refused to extend his curfew so he could attend evening classes there.  Claims against the parole board chairwoman were dismissed.

In Mendez v. Amato, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132346 (ND NY, Sept. 17, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132909, June 18, 2013) and dismissed a general claim by a former jail inmate that involuntary protective custody inmates were precluded from practicing religion when they were isolated from general population religious services.

In Penwell v. Holtgeerts, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133011 (WD WA, Sept. 16, 2013), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133014, July 9, 2013), and dismissed a Christian inmate’s complaint that regulations barring him from wearing his wedding rings in jail violated his free exercise and equal protection rights.

In Scott v. Ellis, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133319 (D NJ, Sept. 18, 2013), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that the warden ordered he not be allowed to participate in the Eid prayer.

In Walters v. Santa Clara Department of Corrections, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134386 (ND CA, Sept. 19, 2013), a California federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s RLUIPA and free exercise complaints over the adequacy of his Halal diet and over a threat to end his Halal diet if he continued to trade food.