Prisoner free exercise cases – September 5, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Quick v. Annucci, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115217 (ND NY, Aug. 29, 2016) a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead against the prison superintendent with his complaint that he was denied the cold alternative diet and was told it was only available to Jewish inmates.

In Lindh v. Warden, Federal Correctional Institution, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116243 (SD IN, Aug. 30, 2016), an Indiana federal district court enjoined a federal prison under RFRA from conducting a visual strip search of a Muslim inmate as a pre-condition for a non-contact visit in the communications management housing unit.

In Meece v. Ballard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116364 (WD KY, Aug. 30, 2016), a Kentucky federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to a Reform Jewish inmate who claimed his free exercise rights were substantially burdened when he was removed from the kosher diet program for purchasing food inconsistent with Orthodox Jewish kosher rules, but not with Reform Jewish practices for kosher diets.

In Brown v. Clarke, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117017 (WD VA, Aug. 31, 2016), a Virginia federal district court referred to mediation a Muslim inmate’s claim that he was wrongly removed from the Common Fare diet for six month.

In Percival v. Stuhler, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117129 (WD MI, Aug. 31, 2016), a Michigan federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend group worship while he was in toplock for misconduct.

In Mohammed v. Daniels, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117201 (ED NC, Aug. 31, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed as unproven a Muslim inmate’s claim that he was denied access to his Quran during Ramadan. It also dismissed his complaint that he was not allowed to make a telephone call to the chaplain.

B.L. v. Zong, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117509 (MD PA, Aug. 30, 2016), is a suit by a male inmate charging a female correctional officer with an extensive pattern of sexual predation.  Defendants did not move to dismiss plaintiff’s claim that he was forced to engage in sexual activity that violated his religious tenets.  However a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing claims against others relating to plaintiff’s work assignment that allowed the predation to occur and eventual transfer to another institution that briefly interfered with plaintiff’s religious exercise.

In Burley v. Ball, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117971 (WD MI, Sept. 1, 2016), a Michigan federal district court disagreed with a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118338, Aug. 12, 2016) and dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that the chaplain denied him a transfer to another facility where he could participate in a Passover seder and obtain food that was kosher for Passover.

In Johnson v. Roskosci, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118804 (MD PA, Sept. 2, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint under the free exercise clause that his religious cultural beads were taken from him because they did not have crosses on them. The court dismissed with leave to amend his retaliation as well as his 8th and 14th Amendment claims.

In Robinson v. Cameron, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119090 (WD PA, Sept. 1, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that his religious rights are substantially burdened by the requirement that in order to participate in the sex offender program he must admit guilt. Plaintiff says his religious belief is that confession is to be made only to God.