Prisoner free exercise cases – February 25, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Maye v. Klee, (6th Cir., Feb. 14, 2019), the 6th Circuit denied qualified immunity to prison officials who refused to allow Nation of Islam members participate in the prison’s Eid al-Fitr celebration.

In Whitney v. Furgerson, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21818 (MD PA, Feb. 8, 2019), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to purchase or carry beads or cowry shells should be dismissed without prejudice for improper joinder with other claims and of defendants.

In Hall v. Hamilton, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22238 (WD NC, Feb. 11, 2019), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that inmates are required to go to the showers only in boxers while his religion requires him to be clad from waist to ankles.

In Rodriguez v. Dzurenda, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23164 (D NV, Feb. 13, 2019), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 221326, Dec. 17, 2018) and refused to issue a preliminary injunction to require prison authorities to formally recognize Satanism and allow practice of the faith.

In Collins v. Brockbridge Correctional Facility, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23207 (D MD, Feb. 12, 2019), a Maryland federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s claim that strip searches violated his religious freedom rights.

In Shields v. Khan, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23761 (SD CA, Feb. 13, 2019), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that his name was removed from the Ramadan list.

In Tatum v. Lucas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25020 (ED WI, Feb. 15, 2019), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that he did not receive a meatless diet and that correctional officers mocked his religious beliefs.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 22, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Warner v. Friedman, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19465 (ND CA, Feb. 6, 2019), a California federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that he is still not being provided an acceptable kosher diet.

In Quintero v. Bisbee, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19760 (D NV, Feb. 7, 2019), a Nevada federal district court rejected a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 221068, Oct. 10, 2018) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his challenge to regulations that exclude’religious activities’ from being rewarded by time off sentence.

In Rivers v. Dumont, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20144 (MD PA, Feb. 6, 2019), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing plaintiff’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when police, before his arrest, accosted him on the sidewalk outside his apartment while he was speaking to Allah.

In Noor v. Pigniolo, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20318 (ED CA, Feb. 7, 2019), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when the prison’s library assistant racially profiled him by calling him a terrorist.

In Luther v. White, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20486 (WD KY, Feb. 6, 2019), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Bobo Shanti Rastafarian inmate to move ahead with some claims regarding removal of his dreadlocks and right to purchase and use incense.  Various other claims were dismissed.

In Blake v. Donovan, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20937 (WD WI, Feb. 7, 2019), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed on exhaustion grounds an inmate’s complaint regarding access to a new type of Pagan prayer oil. It also deniedhis motion to be considered as an expert in Pagan and Asatru theology.

In Toney v. Harrod, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21580 (D KA, Feb. 11, 2019), a Kansas federal district court denied qualified immunity to defendant correctional officer being sued by a Muslim inmate who complained that he should have received breakfast during Ramadan before dawn, and not merely before sunrise which is later.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 20, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ali v. Duboise, (10th Cir., Feb. 6, 2019), the 10th Circuit affirmed the dismissal on qualified immunity grounds of a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was told to pray outside his cell but his request for a more specific location was met with threats, expletives, a push and temporary lock down.

In Saleem v. Bonds, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16081 (D NJ, Jan.. 29, 2019), a New Jersey federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that the Muslim prison chaplain denied him access to Jumu’ah prayer services because photos depicting homosexuals had been sent to plaintiff.

In Hall v. Tapp, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16506 (WD NC, Feb. 1, 2019), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a correctional officer took two bottles of oil and a kufi from his cell.

In Morales v. New Hampshire Attorney General, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17125 (D NH, Feb. 1, 2019), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17431, Jan. 3, 2019) and dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a Catholic inmate’s free exercise objection to a strip search.

In Glenn v. Johnson, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17515 (D NJ, Feb. 1, 2019), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not served Halal meat rather than a vegetarian diet.

In Vaughn v. Wegman, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17639 (ED CA, Feb. 1, 2019), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that the Community Resource Manager denied him participation in the Jewish kosher meal program and Jewish religious services.

In Depaola v. Clarke, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18629 (WD VA, Feb. 5, 2019), a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended finding that manner in which the one-quarter inch beard grooming policy was enforced against a Muslim inmate did not substantially burden his free exercise rights.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 18, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Timmons v. Polley, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14533 (D NV, Jan. 29, 2019), a Nevada federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with complaints regarding inadequate Halal food during Ramadan, and refusal of permission to attend Jumah services and receive certain religious material.

In McKinney v. County of Imperial, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14927 (CD CA, Jan. 30, 2019), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14927, Jan. 3, 2019) and dismissed, with leave to amend, a Jewish inmate’s claim for damages for denial of kosher meals.

In Sassi v. Dutchess County, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15387 (ND NY, Jan. 23, 2019), a New York federal district court allowed a Catholic inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a Bible for several days, but dismissed his complaint regarding inability to attend Bible study groups.

In Hardy v. Agee, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15093 (WD MI, Jan. 31, 2019), a Michigan federal district court, in a case on remand from the 6th Circuit, adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 220438, Dec. 11, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed for a period of time to attend religious services, and was not allowed to attend Taleem (study sessions) while on room restriction for refusing a work assignment.

In Dykes v. Benson, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15990 (WD MI, Feb. 1, 2019), a Michigan federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he could not access his Koran for the first two weeks in segregation.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 28, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Gibson v. Miller, 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 155 (NJ App., Jan. 22, 2019), a New Jersey state appellate court rejected an argument from an inmate convicted of murdering a former girlfriend that the divorce obtained by his wife was invalid because under Catholic doctrine a marriage cannot be dissolved by any earthly authority.

In Harris v. Holmes, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10693 (D NJ, Jan. 23, 2019), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints about his diet during Ramadan, prayer time, access to prayer oils and wearing a kufi.

In Ruffin v. Baldwin, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10881 (SD IL, Jan. 23, 2019), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with claims that he was denied certified kosher meals for breakfast, denied assembly for religious services, and not allowed to wear his religious medallion.

In Tenison v. Byrd, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11620 (WD OK, Jan. 23, 2019), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 220080, Dec. 28, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he had been threatened about giving away his halal food tray and that Muslims were no longer able to pray on the day room floor.

In Massaquoi v. Morris, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10079 (MD PA, Jan. 18, 2019), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claim that he was denied a religious exemption from the Department of Corrections’s haircut policy.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 21, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Sterling v. Sellers, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1522 (11th Cir., Jan. 16, 2019), the 11th Circuit refused to allow a previously litigious inmate to proceed without paying a filing fee under the imminent danger exception. The inmate alleged that prison officials use physical force against Muslims to stop their congregate prayers in dorms.

In Blankumsee v. Foxwell, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4574 (D MD, Jan. 10, 2019), a Maryland federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint by a Christian inmate that serving him turkey sausages made with pork stock violated his religious beliefs.

In Bell v. English, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5425 (D KA, Jan. 11, 2019), a Kansas federal district court gave an inmate 3 weeks to show cause not to dismiss his complaint that he was without his Bible for 3 days after a search.

In Dayton v. Lisenbee, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5435 (ED MO, Jan. 11, 2019), a Missouri federal district court held that there is no constitutional requirement that a jail create religious services for prisoners, at least in the absence of a demand for particular religious services or an allegation that group services are the only meaningful way for an inmate to practice his religion.

In Scales v. Walker, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9055 (WD WI, Jan. 18, 2019), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise and other rights were infringed when a correctional officer attempted to serve him a waffle that had dropped on the floor and refused to replace his Kosher meal when plaintiff learned what had happened.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 14, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Carr v. Zwally, (10th Cir., Jan. 8, 2019), the 10th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that a sheriff’s deputy removed religious material, including two Bibles, from his cell.

In Anderson v. Dzurenda, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 784 (D NV, Jan. 3, 2019), a Nevada federal district court allowed a Wiccan inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied religious items, religious oils and religious teas.

In Williams v. Kobayashi, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1015 (D HI, Jan. 3, 2019), an Hawaii federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that his personal minister’s application for special visitor status was denied.

In Lopez v. Semple, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1361 (D CT, Jan. 4, 2019), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that he was deprived of religious services while in segregation.

In Wilson v. Arizona, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1744 (D AZ, Jan. 3, 2019), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied religious meals and that his food was tampered with because of his religion.

In Canada v. Stirling, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3004 (D SC, Jan. 8, 2019), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 218699, Dec. 17, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that playing the Pledge of Allegiance over the prison loudspeaker two to three times per day violated the Establishment Clause.

In Wilcox v. Brown, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3684 (WD NC, Jan. 9, 2019),a North Carolina federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his damage claim for the temporary cancellation of Rastafarian religious services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 31, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Pattison v. State Department of Corrections, 2018 Nev. App. Unpub. LEXIS 962 (NV App., Dec. 17, 2018), a Nevada appellate court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a permanent injunction to require the Department of Corrections to furnish an inmate kosher meals.

In Jackson v. Mike-Lopez, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215692 (D MN, Dec. 20, 2018), a Minnesota federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing claims of several inmates that their placement in segregation prevented them from taking part in various religious practices.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 26, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Amaker v. Bradt, (2d Cir., Dec. 19, 2018), the 2nd Circuit affirmed the dismissal for lack of exhaustion of administrative remedies of an inmate’s claim regarding access to religious meals and retaliation.

In Vincent v. Stewart, (9th Cir., Dec. 21, 2018), the 9th Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of free exercise and RLUIPA claims regarding a religious diet.

In Hancock v. Cirbo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212319 (D CO, Dec. 14, 2018), a Colorado federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Jewish inmate to move ahead on his claim of denial of kosher meals, but recommended dismissing his complaint regarding the past requirement that he shave his beard.

In Brown v. Solomon, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212824 (WD NC, Dec. 18, 2018, a North Carolina federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims that prison authorities should not classify Jehovah’s Witness as a Christian- Protestant sect, and should provide separate group worship services for Jehovah’s Witness inmates.

In Ables v. Hall, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214749 (ND MS, Dec. 21, 2018), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claim of free exercise violations when he was required to withdraw from seminary school for excessive tardiness stemming from no regular schedule for administration of insulin shots.

In Pattison v. State Department of Corrections, 2018 Nev. App. Unpub. LEXIS 962 (NV App,, Dec. 17, 2018), a Nevada appellate court affirmed the trial court’s award of only $1 in nominal damages for denial of kosher meals to an inmate. A concurring opinion disagreed with the majority on the need for physical injury to recover damages for a 1st Amendment violation.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 17, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Holt v. Givens, (11th Cir., Dec. 12, 2018), the 11th Circuit held that an inmate failed to state a First Amendment Claim growing out of the taking of his prayer oil.

In Derx v. Yancey, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208053 (ED AR, Dec. 10, 2018) an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208651, Nov. 13, 2018) and allowed an inmate top move ahead with 1st Amendment and RLUIPA claims that his his ability to practice his Wiccan beliefs was restricted.

In Strozier v. Hall, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208839 (SD GA, Dec. 11, 2018), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend religious services while in an isolation cell.

In Williams v. New York State Office of Mental Health, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211279 (ED NY, Dec. 14, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed a complaint by an involuntarily committed criminal defendant that he was prevented from attending religious services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 10, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Roberts v. Perry, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204091 (WD NC, Dec. 3, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed on his claims that he was denied access to the courts as to his White Supremacist security risk group designation and confiscation of his religious publications without due process.

In Richardson v. Gleason, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205417 (ND NY, Dec. 4, 2018), a New York federal district court ordered dismissal, unless an amended complaint is filed, of a Jewish inmate’s complaint that defendants failed to provide Kosher food, religious services, or religious material.

In Yah’Torah v. Hicks, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205798 (D NJ, Dec. 4, 2018), a New Jersey federal district court allowed a Jewish inmatge to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied the regular use of fragrant oils for prayer.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 3, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jannisch v. Bates, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199718 (D MY, Nov. 26. 2018), a Montana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200612, Aug. 27, 2018) and dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint regarding confiscation and destruction of his religious property.

In Salas v. Ducart, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199724 (ND CA, Nov. 26, 2018), a California federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with complaint regarding the availability of kosher meals, religious meal ceremonies and a Seder meal.

In Vann v. Griffin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201577 (SD NY, Nov. 28, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that correctional officers on five occasions interfered with his religious practice by touching his Santeria beads, crushing his cigar, looking through his religious pouches, or desecrating his religious objects.

In Alsaifullah v. State of New York, 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8141 (NY App. Div., Nov. 29, 2018), a New York state appeals court held that the Court of Claims properly dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was deprived of meals for two holy days.

In Bybee v. Monroe County Detention Facilities, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202452 (SD FL, Nov. 28, 2018), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended denying a temporary restraining order to an inmate complaining about access to kosher food.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 26, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Johnson v. Lassiter, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193660 (WD NC, Nov. 13, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was deprived of his religious literature and, when he said he needed his religious literature, he was told that Rastafarian or Moorish Science is not a real religion.

In Scott v. Lewis, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193870 (ED MO, Nov. 14, 2018), a Missouri federal district court allowed a Hindu inmate to move ahead with his RLUIPA action for an injunction for failure to accommodate his vegetarian religious diet.

In Collins v. Williams, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194187 (D SC, Nov. 13, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194229, Oct. 18, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied publications, right to attend gatherings and observe holy days of Nation of Gods and Earths because the group was improperly identified as a security threat group.

In Monroe v. Tyo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195078 (ND NY, Nov. 14, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a former inmate who is Muslim be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was required to drink water to provide a urine sample for a drug test during Ramadan.

In Carpenter v. Itawamba County Jail, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195849 (ND MS, Nov. 16, 2018), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge concluded that restricting an inmate’s access to a Christian pastor when the inmate was not a Christian did not interfere with his free exercise rights.

In Richard v. Strom, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196327 (D CT, Nov. 19, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court allowed a Moorish-American inmate to move ahead with claims that he was not permitted to purchase a fez or receive a book, “Nationality, Birthrights and Jurisprudence.” However it dismissed his complaint that the Grand Mufti’s return address was torn from correspondence he received.

In Heritage Family Church, Inc. v. Kansas Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 197543 (D KA, Nov. 20, 2018), a Kansas federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to an inmate who claims that his religious exercise is burdened in various ways (including services, texts and clothing) by the refusal to recognize the Apostolic Faith.

In Hopper v. County of Riverside, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198877 (CD CA, Nov. 20, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge held that a former detainee’s complaint that he was unable to attend group religious services is subject to dismissal.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 19, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Howard v. Polley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190747 (D NV, Nov. 6, 2018), a Nevada federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that it takes up to several weeks for Muslim inmates to be screened so they can attend Jumu’ah services, while there is no screening for Christian and Jewish inmates.

In Kindred v. Allenby, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191495 (ED CA, Nov. 8, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge held that an inmate’s complaints regarding search and seizure of personal and religious property are subject to dismissal.

In Thomas v. Cox, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192576 (D NV, Nov. 9, 2018), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192645, Oct. 24, 2018) and denied a preliminary injunction to prevent destruction of videos of the prison culinary area in connection with his complaint that he was not furnished kosher meals.

In Hansler v. Kelley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192817 (WD AR, Nov. 13, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court dismissed a Wiccan inmate’s complaint that his Wiccan Bible and Book of Grimoires were confiscated, and that there were no Wiccan religious leaders or volunteers to supervise its religious services.

In Doyle v. United States, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192924 (ED KY, Nov. 13, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed a Hanafi Muslim inmate’s complaint that inmates could pray in groups no larger than three.

In Shakanasa v. Allison, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193482 (ND CA, Nov. 13, 2018), a California federal court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to change his name or purchase religious items, and for retaliation.

In Wallace v. Solomon, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193662 (WD NC, Nov. 14, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that the policy providing for non-meat selections is inadequate to comply with Islamic dietary law.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 13, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Buckley v. Munk, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188322 (ND CA, Nov. 2, 2018), a California federal district court dismissed the complaint of an Orthodox Jewish former pre-trial detainee that he was not allowed to have candles and a particular prayer book or to wear his tallit katan outside his cell.

In Clark v. Foxwell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188343 (D MD, Nov. 1, 2018), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a suit by an inmate who said he is Jewish who complained that he did not receive proper kosher meals.

In Wali Ibn Abd-Ali v. Sibanda, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188885 (WD PA, Nov. 2, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that is ability to participate in the Ramadan fast was impeded, but recommended dismissing his claim that he could not participate in Eid feasts.

In Meeks v. Boulden, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190037 (ED CA, Nov. 6,2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s complaint that his religious beliefs prohibit him from drinking tap water and he was denied distilled or bottled water as an alternative.

In Alvarez v. Lassiter, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190236 (WD NC, Nov. 6, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his religious books and literature were taken from him, violating his free exercise rights.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 12, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wright v. Bibens, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187463 (D CT, Nov. 1, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that he was denied common fare meals for 4 days after he was transferred to a different institution.

In Braun v. Sterno, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187654 (D CT, Oct. 31, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court allowed a Native American inmate to move ahead with free exercise and RLUIPA claims against a correctional officer who dumped out his medicine bag and kicked and stomped sacred items in it.

In Harris v. Cearlock, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187839 (CD IL, Nov. 2, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed an African Hebrew Israelite inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a religious diet.

In Jean-Pierre v. Clay, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187606 (MD GA, Nov. 2, 2018), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188138, Oct. 10, 2018) and allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead only on his claim for nominal damages for restricting his prayer time during Ramadan, prohibiting him from leading prayers and other religious instruction, and removing him to isolation in retaliation for continuing to pray during Ramadan.

In Prosha v. Robinson, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188313 (ED VA, Nov. 2, 2018), a Virginia federal magistrate judge allowed a House of Yahweh inmate to move ahead with his RLUIPA complaint that he did not receive an adequate religious diet during Passover.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 5, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Forehand v. Sapp, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183729 (MD GA, Oct.26, 2018), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183990, Sept. 21, 2018) and permitted an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was required to choose between observing the Ramadan fast or the Nation of Islam December fast; he was not permitted to observe both.

In Butler v. California Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184220 (ND CA, Oct. 26, 2018), a California federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his request for Nation of Islam videos be broadcast on the CTF system-wide television channel was denied and that there is not an NOI chaplain.

In Brown v. Semple, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185456 (D CT, Oct. 30, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his free exercise complaint alleging that he was not allowed to have a Wicca bible that was sent to him. His Establishment Clause and equal protection complaints were dismissed without prejudice.

In Lane v. Avery, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184649 (ED AR, Oct. 29, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185647, Oct. 11, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was deprived of his Bible while on “behavior control” and was prevented him from “fellowshipping” with other believers during holy days because he was kept in ad seg.

In Elias v. Kinross, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185869 (ED CA, Oct. 29, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge allowed a Wiccan inmate to move ahead with his complaint that ink he was using for a religious ceremony was confiscated.

In Stewart v. Sheahan, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186253 (WD NY, Oct. 29, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was no provided Ramadan meals for four consecutive days.

In Simmons v. Gilmore, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187293 (WD PA, Oct. 31, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that his receiving only 3 haircuts in 10 months violated his Spiritual Scientist religious beliefs as to personal hygiene.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 1, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Priest v. Holbrook, (9th Cir., Oct. 31, 2018), the 9th Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of a Native American inmate’s complaint that his golden eagle feathers were confiscated.

In McCracken v. Godert, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178074 (ED MO, Oct. 17, 2018), a Missouri federal district court allowed an inmate who is a Native American Medicine Man to move ahead with his complaint that the prison’s ban on tobacco failed to provide an exception for religious ceremonies.

In Ross v. Sandoval, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179876 (D NV, Oct. 19, 2018), a Nevada federal district court granted a preliminary injunction requiring that a Buddhist inmate be placed on the common fare diet.

In Barnes v. Daviess County Detention Center, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180713 (WD KY, Oct. 19, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that during Ramadan he has not been able to engage in prayers or have a clean uniform in which to pray.

In Franklin v. York, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180832 (ND NY, Oct. 16, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding a prayer rug, Ramadan meals, and receipt of mail including a prayer schedule.

In Archibald v. Warren County Regional Jail, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181336 (WD KY, Oct. 23, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint regarding Ramadan meals.

In Clinton v. Duby, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182079 (WD MI, Oct. 24, 2018), a Michigan federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims growing out of denial of his approved religious vegan diet.

In Jones v. North Carolina Department of Public Safety, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182150 (WD NC, Oct. 23, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was told to shave his beard before he could interview for a work release job.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 22, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brown v. State of Washington, (9th Cir.,, Oct. 15, 2018), the 9th Circuit held that the district court properly dismissed an inmate’s 1st Amendment and RLUIPA claims regarding burning of his hair.

In Ahdom v. Etchebehere, (9th Cir., Oct. 18, 2018), the 9th Circuit affirmed dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was prevented from participating in Ramadan meals.

In Shepherd v. Smith, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167510 (ND NY, Sept. 28, 2018), a New York federal district court rejected a magistrate’s recommended sua sponte dismissal (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100012, June 13, 2018) of a Rastafarian inmate’s free exercise claim regarding dreadlocks.

In Purifoy v. Williams, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170795 (WD AR, Oct. 3, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court dismissed complaints by a Christian inmate of denial of pastoral visits, failure to receive a religious calendar and denial of church services while in solitary confinement.

In Barnes v. Fulton County Detention Center, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170868 (WD KY, Oct. 2, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding delay in receiving Ramadan meals and his prayer time.

In Resto-Otero v. Mohammad, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171852 (ND NY, Oct. 3, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move ahead with his suit charging a failure to provide him with religiously appropriate meals during Ramadan.

In Wright v. County of Mecosta, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173876 (WD MI, Oct. 10, 2018), a Michigan federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his jail meals failed to satisfy his religious dietary needs.

In Lambright v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175089 (ND IN, Oct. 11, 2018), an Indiana federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with a damage claim for denial of a kosher diet for 3 months, and an injunctive action to obtain Jewish religious services.

In Blade v. Stinson, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173929 (WD LA, Oct. 9, 2018), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175062, Sept. 18, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding his being served pork sausage and not being transferred to a pork-free facility, as well as his retaliation claim.

In McLaughlin v. Lee, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173926 (WD LA, Oct. 9, 2018), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175061, Sept. 17, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint regarding lack of Muslim religious services at his former institution, as well as complaints regarding Ramadan and retaliation.

In Cantey v. Martuscello, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175302 (ND NY, Oct. 10, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaints regarding celebration of Saviour’s Day, Jumu’ah services and showers before them, and cancellation of a study class.

In Covington v. Perry, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176362 (ED NC, Oct. 15, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court granted summary judgment to a Muslim inmate on his RLUIPA claim for a halal compliant diet and the parties were directed to present a joint or individual proposed remedial orders.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 16, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Hairston v. Emeaghara, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167839 (SD OH, Sept. 28, 2018), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that the chaplain refused to provide weekly church services for the segregation unit.

In Brakeall v. Stanwick-Klimek, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167925 (D SD, Sept. 28, 2018), a South Dakota federal district court, in an opinion largely focused on other issues, allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims that he has been prevented from participating in Jewish holiday observances and that there is no kosher meal option.

In Baker v. Davis, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167027 (ED TX, Sept. 28, 2018), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167961, Aug. 20, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s various complaints relating to meals, prayer oil, study groups, religious services and grooming policies.

In Rivera v. Kernan, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168309 (ND CA, Sept. 28, 2018), a California federal district court allowed an Odinist inmate that authorities refused or delayed approval for celebration or collection of funds for religious holidays.

In Rials v. Avalos, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168323 (ND CA, Sept. 28, 2018), a California federal district court dismissed, in part on qualified immunity grounds, a complaint by a Moorish Science Temple of America adherent that he is not allowed to carry a picture of the Holy Prophet Noble Drew Ali outside of his cell.

In Sterling v. Sellers, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168555 (MD GA, Sept. 29, 2018), a Georgia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that congregational prayers were not permitted in the prison day room, but allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to participate in the Eid feast.

In Jefferson v. Wall, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168662 (D RI, Sept. 28, 2018), a Rhode Island federal district court dismissed, on res judicata grounds, a Muslim inmates complaint that he was not permitted to wear his kufi during Ramadan Iftar meals.

In Barnes v. Fedele, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170218 (WD NY, Oct. 2, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a suit by an inmate who registered his religion as Jewish who complained that he was not permitted to wear a Tsalot-Kob under a policy which, at that time approved this as religious head wear only for Rastafarians.

In Mitchell v. Davey, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170317 (ED CA, Oct. 2, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Muslim inmate to move ahead against certain defendants on his complaint that for parts of 2015, including Ramadan, he could not obtain meals consistent with his religious beliefs, and that meals meeting Muslim standards are not available.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 13, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jasmaine v. Futrelle, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164821 (ED NC, Sept. 26, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Wiccan inmate that group worship was not provided because of too few adherents to satisfy the minimum requirement for providing it.

In Jenkins v. Sinclair, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164485 (WD WA, Sept. 25, 2018), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165580, Sept. 4, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he can no longer obtain prayer oil from his preferred outside vendor and is denied access to donated prayer oil unless he attends services of Muslim sects with which he disagrees.

In Newsome v. Fairley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165994 (SD MS, Sept. 27, 2018), a Mississippi federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166587, Aug. 3, 2018) and refused to issue a TRO or preliminary injunction in a suit by an inmate practicing the Natsarim faith seeking to obtain immersion baptism, a kosher diet and religious counseling.

In Hatcher v. Rubenstein, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166045 (SD WV, Sept. 27, 2018), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168091, Aug. 8, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints regarding lack of Halal meat and his inability to wear his kufi throughout the prison.

In Jones v. Galske, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166331 (ED WI, Sept. 27, 2018), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claim that her 1st Amendment rights were infringed when she was not released into the dayroom to watch televised bible study.

In Mann v. Spatney, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166847 (ND OH, Sept. 27, 2018), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166570, July 31, 2018) and dismissed claims by a Native American inmate that there are no Native American materials in the chapel library and complaints about access to sacred herbs, sweat lodge, spiritual advisor, smudging and observance of holy days.

In Gawlik v. Semple, 2018 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2305 (CT Super. Ct., Aug. 31, 2018), a Connecticut state trial court, after a bench trial, ruled against plaintiff who complained about policies that prevented him from receiving various books, newspapers, blank cards and envelopes, decorated cards and artwork.  Plaintiff, who was serving a 60 year sentence for murder, was studying in the hopes of becoming a Catholic priest.

In Richardson v. Welch, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167224 (WD VA, Sept. 28, 2018), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Nation of Islam adherent that prison authorities refuse to recognize the NOI practice of observing Ramadan in December, instead of on the lunar cycle recognized by other Muslims.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 9, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Young v. John, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163439 (CD CA, Sept. 24, 2018), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163470, Aug. 14, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by the chaplain’s twice interrupting Nation of Islam services and threatening to cancel them.

In Walker v. Director., Texas Department of Criminal Justice- Correctional Institutions Division, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163582 (ED TX, Sept. 24, 2018), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164341, Aug. 9, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the prison served inmates observing Ramadan insufficient calories.

In Cary v. Stewart, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163938 (ED MI, Sept.25, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164358, Aug. 17, 2018), and refused to dismiss a complaint by an inmate who follows Native American Traditional Ways that his possession of herbs is being wrongly restricted in violation of the Free Exercise clause. Various other claims were dismissed.

In Dyer v. Osterhout, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163936 (ED MI, Sept. 25, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165340, May 8, 2018), and allowed a Jewish female inmate to move ahead with her free exercise challenge to the cancellation of Jewish religious services for several months, as well as her retaliation claim, but dismissed claims under RLUIPA and other 1st, 8th and 14th Amendment claims.

In Rivera v. Raines, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164284 (SD IL, Sept. 25, 2018), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164298, Sept. 5, 2018) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his free exercise claim alleging that prison officials did not allow Nation of Gods and Earths to conduct religious services.

In Heikkila v. Kelley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163562 ED AR, Sept. 25, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164411, Aug. 27, 2018) and dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that his request to construct and use a sweat lodge was denied.

In Jones v. Sherman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164649 (EDCA, Sept. 25, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he received only one meal for dinner on Yom Kippur, when he was told he would receive two meals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 8, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Cary v. Unknown Phol, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161038 (WD MI, Sept. 20, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161103, July 2, 2018) and dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that he was deprived of his medicine bag while he was in administrative segregation.

In Williams v. Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161342 (ED PA, Sept. 20, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint regarding access to religious services, inability to wear his kufi outside his cell, and inability to speak with an Imam.

In California Department of State Hospitals v. A.H., 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 838 (CA App., Sept. 21, 2018), a California appellate court rejected a religious defense to an order for involuntary administration of antipsychotic medication.

In Keystone v. Ponton, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16105 (WD VA, Sept. 21, 2018), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a claim by a Mennonite inmate that he did not receive a diet compatible with his religious beliefs.

In Stewart v. Jackson, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162473 (ND IN, Sept. 21, 2018), an Indiana federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to file an amended complaint alleging religious discrimination when the chaplain refused to take him off the halal diet after he informed the chaplain that he had diabetes and could not continue Ramadan.

In Firewalker-Fields v. Lee, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162565 (WD VA, Sept. 24, 2018), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Sunni Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim inmates in segregation are not allowed to congregate for prayer, even by television programming, on Fridays and can only observe televised nondenominational Christian programs on Sundays.

In Gonzalez v. Rivera, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162371 (ED AR, Sept. 21, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163054, Aug. 17, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to attend a Catholic Easter meal and was not given meal provisions for a Good Friday fast.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 24, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wolcott v. Board of Rabbis of Northern and Southern California, (9th Cir., Sept. 20, 2018), the 9th Circuit reversed the dismissal of an inmate’s claim that his possession and use of Jewish artifacts were restricted, but affirmed the dismissal of his religious conversion claim.

In Goff v. Eppinger, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155455 (ND OH, Sept. 12, 2018), an Ohio federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint regarding delay in placing his name on the kosher meal approval list, and failure to respond to requests for Passover accommodations.

In Wenzel v. Reynolds, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156702 (ND IN, Sept. 13, 2018), and Indiana federal district court allowed an Odinist inmate to proceed with damage claims growing out of denial of his religious book for four days and that he was denied equal access to religious study materials. Claims for confiscation of runes and denial of a Christmas gift were dismissed.

In Cary v. Mox, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156666 (ED MI, Sept. 14, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157275, Aug. 14, 2018) and dismissed a complaint from a follower of the Native American Traditional Way that his medicine bag had been desecrated by correctional officers searching it.

In Davis v. Harper, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158186 (SD IL, Sept. 14, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that prison dietary staff ignored his documented allergies in preparing his food for Ramadan and related feasts.

In Guillen v. Francisco, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158293 (ED CA,Sept. 17, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Native American inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that a correctional officer touched plaintiff’s medicine bag during a search.

In McCoy v. Aramark Correctional Services, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159871 (D KA, Sept. 19, 2018), a Kansas federal district court held that issues of fact remain which preclude summary judgment for an Orthodox Jewish inmate who contends that certified religious diet meals do not meet his religious requirements.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 17, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ackerman v. Washington, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151742 (ED MI, Sept. 6, 2018), a Michigan federal district court reinstated Orthodox Jewish inmates claim that providing a vegan diet instead of a kosher diet imposes a substantial burden on the sincere religious beliefs that plaintiffs must eat meat on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays and dairy on Shavuot.

In Luther v. White, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151896 (W KY, Sept. 6, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Rastafarian inmate to supplement his prior complaint by adding a claim that he was denied the right to purchase and use incense.

In Ritter v. Davis, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152028 (ND OH, Sept. 6, 2018), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152036, Aug. 20, 2018) and refused to dismiss a Jewish inmate’s complaint that his request for kosher meals was denied.

In Pleasant-Bey v. Luttrell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152864 (WD TN, Sept. 7, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s challenges to the prison’s limitations on Jumu’ah services, food service policies regarding Ramadan, and its policies regarding the hiring of an imam.

In Soriano v. Spearman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153187 (ED CA, Sept. 6, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim inmates, unlike others, were not allowed to perform their prayers in the chapel, requiring them to pray outside in extreme weather conditions.

In Harvey v. Baker, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153802 (WD VA, Sept. 10, 2018), a Virginia federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his free exercise claim for damages for denial of a pork-free diet that conformed to his Sunni Muslim beliefs.

In Burroughs v. Mitchell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153808 (ND NY, Sept. 6, 2018), a New York federal district court, sorting through a wide-ranging complaint, dismissed an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion defendants refused to provide a Koran, prayer rug, Kufi, and Ramadan meal, but allowed him to move ahead with his claim that one defendant refused to provide him with his religious items in retaliation for his refusal to respond to questions about two other inmates’ escape.

In Dent v. Dennison, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153950 (SD IL, Sept.10, 2018), an Illinois federal district court rejected a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153946, July 13, 2018) and refused to require prison authorities to allow an inmate to attend both Catholic and Protestant religious services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 4, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Streater v. Allen, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145087 (ED TX, Aug. 24, 2018), a Texas federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that during a two-week lock down he was unable to attend religious services and was denied hot meals for at least a week.

In Ramos v. Malloy, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145147 (D CT, Aug. 27, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed, with leave to file an amended complaint, an inmate’s lawsuit claiming he did not receive a book about religion, even though copies were mailed to him twice.

In Cordero v. Kelley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145804 (D NJ, Aug. 22, 2018), a New Jersey federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims that religious tracts he purchased to give his family and friends were confiscated.

In Buie v. Mitchell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146159 (ED WI, Aug. 28, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s lawsuit that complained about the manner of preparation of certain kosher meals.

In Guilliot v. Harmon, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145095 (ND TX, Aug. 27, 2018),  Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146273, July 25, 2018) and permitted a Wiccan inmate who was serving a sentence for receiving child pornography to move ahead with his claim that his rights under RFRA were violated when he was denied access to a Rider-Waite Tarot deck — a tarot deck that includes artistic depictions of non-sexualized nudity.

In Galvan v. Sterrett, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146339 (SD IL, Aug. 28, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Catholic inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his permission to attend Protestant religious services as well as Catholic ones was revoked.

In Gaston v. Marean, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146578 (ED CA, Aug. 28, 2018), a California federal district court held that a Ratafarian inmate’s additional assertions regarding the impact of cutting off his dreadlocks would allege a substantial burden on religious exercise, contrary to a magistrate’s original conclusion (see prior posting). Thus the court provided the opportunity to file an amended complaint.

In Loufer v. Carr, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147006 (D KA, Aug. 29, 2018), a Kansas federal district court gave an inmate 30 days to show why his sketchy complaint regarding a religious diet should not be dismissed.

In Masek v. Chastain, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148013 (ED MO, Aug. 30, 2018), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a complaint by plaintiff, who is civilly detained after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of his father, that he was deprived of a copy of the Bible for one week.

In Wright v. Lassiter, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148188 (WD NC, Aug. 30, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Rastafarian inmate to move ahead with claims of confiscation of religious books and items, and forced removal from a vegan diet.

In Helm v. Allen, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149080 (WD KY, Aug. 30, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a Catholic Bible and mail from the Dtnamic Catholic Institute.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 27, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Saif’ullah v. Cruzen, Smith v. Cruzen, and Smith v Albritton  (9th Cir., Aug. 22, 2018), the 9th Circuit, in separate opinions, affirmed the dismissal of claims related to a prison’s interruption of congregational prayer.

In Pevia v. Bishop, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139541 (D MD, Aug. 16, 2018), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that while he was in maximum security he was not able to attend religious services.

In Blair v. Raemisch, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138796 (D CO, Aug. 16, 2018), a Colorado federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139806, July 26, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint about the religious vegan diet that was being served.

In Anderson v. Russell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141296 (ED WA, Aug. 20, 2018), a Washington federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Christian inmate whose requests to receive special Passover meals were denied.

In Jones v. Malin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141892 (SD NY, Aug. 21, 2018),  New York federal district court refused to grant summary judgment to defendants in an inmate’s suit for monetary damages for Sing Sing’s two month interruption in separate Shi’a Jumu’ah services.

In Tyler v. Ray, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142354 (D SC, Aug. 22, 2018) a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s report (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142732, July 26, 2018) and dismissed a complaint by a Jehovah’s Witness civil detainee that he was not permitted to take his Bible and literature with him from his cell to recreation, and that there were limits on his ability to meet with outside religious volunteers and to receive books.

In Allen v. Echele, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143953 (ED MO, Aug. 23, 2018), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a pretrial detainee’s complaint that he was denied a kosher diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 20, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Penzone, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135075 (D AZ, Aug. 10, 2018), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied assistance with a three-day fast based on the Christian faith surrounding the Ritualistic Day of Atonement, and was denied religious services.

In Robinson v. Cameron, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135394 (WD PA, Aug. 9. 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge, in a case on remand from the 3rd Circuit, recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that the sex offender program’s requirement that he take responsibility for his offenses amounts to a religious confession which is only to be made to God through Jesus.

In Kelly v. Warden, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135602 (SD CA, Aug. 10, 2018), a California federal district court allowed a Catholic inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to change his name to that of his stepfather, which he needed to do to obey the religious obligation to honor his father.

In Chrisco v. Scoleri, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136238 (D CO, Aug. 13, 2018), a Colorado federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was forcibly medicated because of his religious belief in Alchemical Christianity.

In Woodward v. Ali, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136436 (ND NY, Aug. 10, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was removed from the Ramadan meal list, and this was done in retaliation for a complaint he filed against the Muslim chaplain.

In Grayson v. Furlow, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136446 (SD IL, Aug. 13, 2018), an Illinois federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate who is a member of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem and who has taken the Nazirite vow to move ahead with his complaint that his dreadlocks were forcibly cut off in order to have a second identification photo taken.

In Wright v. Lassiter, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136823 (WD NC, Aug. 13, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claims that his religious items were confiscated on various occasions.

In Wilbur v. Fitzpatrick, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136898 (D ME, Aug. 14, 2018),  a Maine federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to attend religious services and other faith activities as the result of disciplinary restrictions.

In Snowden v. Prince George’s County Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137107 (D MD, Aug. 14, 2018), a Maryland federal district court allowed Muslim inmates to move ahead with their complaint that they were not permitted to perform Friday religious services or daily congregational prayer, while authorities arranged services for Christian inmates.

In McMillan v. Hughes, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138953 (D NJ, Aug. 16, 2018), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that officers humiliated him by criticizing his religious requirement of trimming excessive pubic hair.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 6, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brown v. Brown, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126580 (SD MS, July 30, 2018), a Mississippi federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126903, June 11, 2018) and dismissed Bivens claims and certain other claims by a federal prisoner who claimed religious discrimination while employed at the prison, but allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his 5th Amendment equal protection claim.

In Neal v. Miyares, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126993 (SD FL, July 26, 2018), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended denying an inmate’s request for an injunciton orderng that he receive fresh kosher meals.

In West v. Kind, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127452 (ED WI, July 31, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his religious beliefs were infringed by allowing him to be strip searched by a transgender male who he regards as a female.

In Hardrick v. MacLaren, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126697 (WD MI, July 30, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127932, June 18, 2018) and refused to grant summary judgment to either party in an Muslim inmate’s suit complaining that defendant blocked accommodating his late request for inclusion in Ramadan meals.

In Hallom v. Bowens, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128224 (ND IL, July 31, 2018), an Illinois federal district court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint that a Cook County jail employee refused to accommodate his request to attend group Baptist religious services while he was in protective custody.

In Lambright v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128577 (ND IN, July 31, 2018), an Indiana federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead to seek an injunction requiring that he be provided with kosher meals.

In Shaw v. Kaemingk, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129520 (D SD, Aug. 2, 2018), a South Dakota federal district court dismissed a complaint by an inmate who is a follower of Dorcha Cosán that his religious rights were infringed because he was unable, due to his indigency, to access Internet service to receive books, music and games.

In Hall v. WV DOC, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129907 (SD WV, July 13, 2018), a West Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that the chaplain refused to acknowledge his Zoroastrian religion.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 13, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In  Allah v. Semple, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131476 (D CT, Aug. 6, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Nation of Gods and Earths inmate’s complaint that his ability to practice his religion has been blocked.

In Evans v. Prisk, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131900 (WD MI, Aug. 6, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132655, July 5, 2018) and dismissed a Jehovah’s Witness inmate’s free exercise claim, but permitted him to move ahead with his equal protection complaint that the rule requiring at least 5 inmates before a group religious service will be held was applied unequally.

In Lopez v. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133827 (CD CA, Aug. 7, 2018), a California federal magistrate dismissed, with leave to amend, a Jehovah’s Witness free exercise and equal protection claims alleging denial of weekly religious services and of chapel time with his volunteer chaplain.

In Simmons v. Atkins, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133863 (ED CA, Aug. 7, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he is not allowed to conduct sweat lodge ceremonies for himself and other indigenous inmates.

In Crayton v. Ramey, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133954 (ND CA, Aug. 6, 2018), a California federal district court allowed an inmate who was a member of the “original Hebrew faith (Black Jews) religions” to move ahead with his free exercise complaint that defendant made “foul derogatory remarks ridiculing … [his] Hebrew religious faith.”

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 30, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Boyd v. Etchebehere, (9th Cir., July 25, 2018), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a challenge to a California prison’s Ramadan meal policy.

In McCracken v. Godert, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121480 (ED MO, July 20, 2018), a Missouri federal magistrate judge dismissed, unless an appropriate amended complaint is filed, a Native American inmate’s complaint that he is not being allowed to use ceremonial pipes, tobacco, and other ritual items.

In Thomas v. Delaney, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122106 (ND NY, July 23, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed some claims by a Rastafarian inmate of harassment and free exercise infringement, while allowing an amended complaint asserting 1st Amendment, harassment and RLUIPA claims to be filed.

In Allen v. Kunkel, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122116 (D CT, July 22, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Moorish American inmate’s complaints about barring his obtaining a particular book and refusing to approve his ability to purchase a fez.

In Miller v. Lucas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122640 (MD PA, July 20, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he was sent from the chapel back to his cell without being able to participate in religious services.

In Cejas v. Brown, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122935 (SD CA, July 20, 2018), a California federal district court allowed a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his claim that authorities denied weekly Buddhist services and the ability to practice meditation, chanting and prostration indoors. The court however denied joinder of other plaintiffs.

In Finefeuiaki v. Maui Community Correctional Center Staff, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124678 (D HI, July 25, 2018), a Hawaii federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that authorities could not locate his Bible, daily bread, and religious handbook during a 5-day perioid.

In Mears v. Kauffman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125038 (MD PA, July 26, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that after a chaplain accused him of homosexual activity, a correctional officer removed him from services and urged him not to attend services conducted by that chaplain, or not bring the other inmate with whom he allegedly has sexual contact.

In Cox v. United States, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124412 (D MN, July 25, 2018), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s report (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125213, June 28, 2018), and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a counselor told him to stop praying.

In Brown v. Ryles, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125256 (ED AR, July 26, 2018), an Arkansas federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied the right to shave in accordance with his religion.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 25, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Rutledge v. Lassen County Jail, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120152 (ED CA, July 17, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that he is a “follower of Lucifer” and that jail staff have urged him to “pray or change [his] religious beliefs”.

In Cucchiara v. Auburn Correctional Facility, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120612 (ND NY, July 19, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint regarding “fraudulent ticketing” of religious practices, destruction and confiscation of religious property including voodoo dolls, and tampering with religious food, oils and balms.

In McLeod v. Smith, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121134 (SD NY, July 18, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was prevented from attending Jumah services on one occasion.

In Jackmon v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121262 (D NJ, July 20, 2018), a New Jersey federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that designation of Nations of Gods and Earths as a security threat group has deprived him of any Nations religious observances, possession of Nations literature, and association with other Nations members.

In Kanatzar v. Cole, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121488 (D KA, July 20, 2018), a Kansas federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his kosher meals were not prepared in accordance kosher requirements.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 23, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Shepard v. Allison, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117425 (ED CA, July 13, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to file an amended complaint, an inmate’s claim that his request to change his name for religious reasons was denied.

In Croghan v. Branion, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117387 (ED CA, July 12, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to file an amended complaint, an inmate’s claim that he was not allowed to wear a religious artifact.

In Turner v. Schofield, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117673 (WD TN, July 16, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not issued passes to attend religious services when he used his Muslim name rather than his committed name, as well as his complaint about halal meals.

In Dorman v. Aronofsky, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118161 (SD FL, July 13, 2018), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended that a Jewish inmate be permitted to move ahead with his complaint for an injunction growing out of his inability to sign up for and participate in Passover diet and services.

In Jones v. West, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118633 (ED WI, July 17, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint about a policy change that limited dissemination of notice about multi-day religious meal accommodation and congregate meal dates, and his complaint about being denied inclusion on the Ramadan bagged meal program.

In Young v. Smith, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119068 (SD GA, July 17, 2018), a Georgia federal magistrate judge held that a Native American inmate should be permitted to move ahead with his complaint that he was prohibited from smoking kinninnick in his weekly prayer ceremonies, that previously approved sacred items were confiscated, that his prayer practices were interfered with, that he was only allowed a Bible or Qur’an (not Native American sacred books) while in Tier II confinement, and his complaint of religious retaliation.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 16, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Annucci, (2d Cir., July 10, 2018), the 2nd Circuit, vacating and remanding a district court decision, held that the state had not carried its burden under RLUIPA to justify not accommodating the dietary restrictions imposed by an inmate’s Nazarite Jewish faith.

In Riley v. Governor of Florida, (11h Cir., July 12, 2018), the 11th Circuit vacated the district court’d decision and remanded to give plaintiff an opportunity to amend in a suit in which an inmate complained that his religion had been incorrectly listed as Jewish because his Ethiopian Zion Coptic religion was not included in the computerized list of faith choices.

In Beers v. Fouts, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114202 (D NH, July 10, 2018), a New Hampshire federal district court rejected an inmate’s complaint that a group strip search violated his religious beliefs because it exposed his body to individuals who lacked a proper reason to view it.

In Sears v. Thomas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114470 (SD FL, July 9, 2018), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by an inmate alleging that a chain and crucifix were improperly kept from him on the grounds they were purchased from an unauthorized vendor.

In George v. County of Westchester, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114520 (SD NY, July 10, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint regarding a lack of Jewish congregational worship services.

In Muhammad v. Barksdale, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114773 (WD VA, July 10, 2018), a Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114324, March 14, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was served the Common Fare diet instead of “special” foods for Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.

In Maple v. Overmyer, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114820 (WD PA, July 11, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he missed a Jummah prayer service and the feast of Eid Al-Fitr.

In Brennan v. Aston, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116329 (WD WA, July 12, 2018), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116450, June 14, 2018) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his request to participate in Passover was denied.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 9, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Bedison, (5th Cir., July 3, 2018), the 5th Circuit affirmed a Texas federal district court’s dismissal of a suit by an inmate who is a member of Moorish Science Temple of America who complained that he was not provided with primary services to practice his faith.

In Evans v. Brown, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110441 (ND CA, July 2, 2018), a California federal district court held that a Muslim inmate’s exclusion from the Ramadan meal program did not qualify for the “imminent danger” exception to the statutory “three strikes rule” that precludes inmates who have brought 3 or more frivolous actions from proceeding in forma pauperis.

In Gaston v. Marean, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110448 (ED CA, June 29, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge, in a recommended finding, concluded that the cutting off of 4 dreadlocks of a Rastafarian inmate during his treatment for a head laceration did not amount to a substantial burden on his free exercise rights.

In Wade v. California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111268 (ND CA, July 3, 2018), a California federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that NOI videos were not shown to the entire prison and that no NOI chaplain was provided.

In Vidro v. Erfe, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111750 (D CT, July 5, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court allowed a Native American inmate to move ahead with his 1st Amendment free exercise claim that he was denied adequate winter clothing to wear during his smudging rituals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 2, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Branco v. Milligan, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 17583 (6th Cir., June 26, 2018), the 6th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not called out for the nightly Ramadan feast on one occasion.

In Robertson v. McCullough, (10th Cir., June 28, 2018), the 10th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a claim by a Christian inmate that his religious exercise was burdened when he was not permitted to donate a kidney to another inmate.

In Horacek v. Prisk, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103824 (WD MI, June 21, 2018), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint of delay in approving and instituting his participation in the kosher meal program.

In Carawan v. Mitchell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104149 (WD NC, June 20, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was unable to both receive earned time for going to school and freely practice Islam because class attendance policies conflicted with religious services, and that he was not allowed to pray while seated at his desk in class.

In Buckley v. County of San Mateo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104370 (ND CA, June 21, 2018), a California federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied the right to have Sabbath candles, a prayer book and Sabbath services, and to wear certain religious items outside his cell. His complaint regarding kosher food was dismissed.

In Shabazz v. Johnson City Police Department, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104887 (ND NY, June 21,2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing, with a right to replead, a Muslim inmate’s complaint that a search of him violated his free exercise rights.

In Nadolny v. Stock, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106653 (SD IL, June 26, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that the assistant warden prevented him from changing his religion from Baptist to Muslim.

In Bell v. Young, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107169 (D SD, June 27, 2018), a South Dakota federal magistrate judge allowed a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his complaint that inmates were allowed to receive free books from Christian religious groups, but not from non-religious groups.

In Lowe v. Smith, 2018 Ind. App. Unpub. LEXIS 758 (IN App., June 29, 2018), an Indiana appellate court reversed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that a new prison policy no longer allows Muslim congregational prayer in their accustomed room, and only allows Muslims to pray while seated at tables.

In Buford v. Bolton, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109130 (WD KY, June 28, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with a claim that he was denied kosher meals in violation of his free exercise rights.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 25, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Solton v. Anderson, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98239 (D KA, June 12, 2018), a Kansas federal district court concluded that defendants had not improperly denied a Muslim inmate’s requests for religious materials and a religious diet.

In Degale v. McDonough, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98549 (SD NY, June 12, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s challenge to the requirement for an initial shave of inmates to maintain a record of appearance in case of escape.

In Young v. Chuvalas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99618 (SD OH, June 14, 2018), an Ohio federal district court denied summary judgment to defendants in a suit by a Muslim inmate who claims he was forced to attend a Christian prison ministry event.

In Shepherd v. Smith, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100012 (ND NY, June 13, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Rastafarian inmate be allowed to move ahead with his claims against certain defendants that he did not receive a requested cold alternative diet and that there were no Rastafarian religious services available.

In Kearey v. Collier, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99513 (SD TX, June 13, 2018), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100014, May 8, 2018) and allowed a Taoist inmate to move ahead against two of the defendants on claims that they were denied access to a package containing eastern religious texts and videotapes; they were not permitted to practice moving meditations and yoga in a group setting; and an outside volunteer was required to supervise moving meditations.

In Greene v. Cabral, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100408 (D MA, June 15, 2018), a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s claim that he was not properly served sufficient kosher food and that he was denied the ability to participate in religious services led by a rabbi.

In Smith v. Drawbridge, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100044 (WD OK, June 13, 2018), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100732, May 22, 2018) and dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that numerous of his religious practices were not accommodated, including diet, religious services, religious events and apparel.  Most of his claims were dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, while his complaint regarding observance of a fast day was found not to have amounted to a substantial burden on his free exercise.

In Parker v. Baldwin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100749 (SD I, June 15, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was wrongly disciplined for teaching the Asatru faith, holding Asatru services and teaching the runes.

In Rhoden v. Department of State Hospitals, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100868 (ED CA, June 15, 2018), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90260, May 30, 2018), and allowed a civil detainee to move ahead on his complaint that for several months he has not been allowed a Catholic Chaplain to conduct prayer services and attend mass.

In Gholston v. Powell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102915 (MD GA, June 20, 2018), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103201, May 25, 2018) and allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to grow long hair and a beard.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 18, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Dent v. Dennison, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90043 (SD IL, May 30, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was excluded from 3 Protestant religious services in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment claim against a volunteer pastor at the prison for his anti-LGBT comments.

In Garner v. Lisenbe, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90682 (ED MO. May 31, 2018), a Missouri federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that space formerly used for religious services was turned into housing units.

In Ervin v. Foxwell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91805 (D MD, June 1, 2018), a Maryland federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was served sausage with pork products in it for breakfast on one day.

In Savastano v. LaClair, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93435 (ND NY, May 31, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Muslim inmate to move ahead to seek injunctive relief on his complaint that there is no imam on staff and that he is denied a diet consistent with his religious beliefs.

In Estes v. Clarke, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94322 (WD VA, June 5 2018), a Virginia federal district court granted summary judgment to a Jewish inmate who complained that the common fare diet does not meet the requirements for kosher food. It dismissed challenges regarding Passover, use of a Shofar and observance of fast days.

In Hill v. Tanner, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94220 (ED LA, June 4, 2018), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95190, May 10, 2018) and held that mandatory streaming of religious services on all unit TV sets 3 times per week does not violate the Establishment or Free Exercise Clause.

In Banks v. Cuevas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95217 (ND OH, June 6, 2018), an Ohio federal district court, in  a suit by a Wiccan inmate who claimed interference with the practice of his religion and retaliation, held that a Bivens action for damages is not available in prisoner free exercise cases.

In Amon-Ra v. Ryan, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96011 (D AZ, June 5, 3018), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that  he was denied a special meat for the Eid at the conclusion of Ramadan, that prison officials were one day off for their announced beginning of Ramadan and he ws not initially placed on the Ramadan turnout.

In Vick v. Core Civic, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97658 (MD TN, June 11, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court, in a prisoner suit primarily focusing on other issues, held that an inmate can move ahead with his complaint that prisoners are not allowed to attend any religious services while housed in the RCA pod.

In Hargrove v. Frisby, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98017 (SD OH, June 12, 2018), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that while in disciplinary segregation for 3 months he could attend only 1 of the 2 types of Muslim religious services each week.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 11, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Harris v. Escamilla, (9th Cir., May 24, 2018), the 9th Circuit allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with claims that a correctional officer intentionally desecrated his Koran.

In Broyles v. Marks, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85486 (D KA, May 22, 2018), a Kansas federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that there was no variety in the kosher meals served to him.

In Adams-Bey v. Rogers, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85754 (WD NC, May 17, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim of religious discrimination. Plaintiff alleged discrimination against him for being a “Moorish-American” by seizing legal petitions.

In Murphy v. Scott, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85907 (ED TX, May 22, 2018), a Texas federal magistrate judge dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that he did not receive meat-free bag meals when his unit was on lock down.

In White v. Lee, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87067 (D SC, May 24, 2018), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87398, April 16, 2018), and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s claim of confiscation of his religious material.

In Martinez v. Arizona Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87418 (D AZ, May 23, 2018), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that his medicine bag with feathers attached was missing after a search of his cell.

In Scott v. Uhler, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88233 (ND NY, May 24, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move ahead with an equal protection challenge to the cancellation of Jumm’ah services on Christmas day.

In Kelly v. Montgomery, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88522 (SD CA, May 24, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to move ahead with his challenge to the denial of his request to change his name to that of his step-father to honor the religious requirement to honor his father.

In Bullock v. Cohen, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88708 (D NJ, May 29, 2018), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that there is no designated place to assemble for religious services.

In Muhammad v. Wheeler, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89295 (ED AR, May 29, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court denied a stay pending appeal in a case in which it had held that authorities must provide a Muslim inmate with halal meals, including a once per day serving of meat. It issued an injunction requiring fish 3 or 4 times per week, and chicken, turkey or beef the remainder of the times.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 8, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Quiero v. Muniz, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80557 (MD PA, May 14, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his request for a visit from a prison chaplain was rejected.

In Little v. Gens, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80691 (ED WI, May 14, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed on First Amendment free exercise claim against one defendant who allegedly punished him for exercising his right to perform Wudū. Claims against other defendants were dismissed.

In Hogan v. Idaho State Board of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82582 (DD, May 15, 2018), an Idaho federal magistrate judge concluded that sufficient facts had been alleged for a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that he should be permitted to grow four-inch beard and wear a kufi at all times.

In Pouncil v. Sherman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82761 (ED CA, May 15, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was wrongfully denied a meal to break his fast on one night of Ramadan.

In Rushdan v. Gear, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82769 (ED CA, May 15, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the prison insisted on listing his religious name as an additional name after his commitment name, rather than allowing him to use his religious name solely.

In Sariaslan v. Rackley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82804 (ED CA, May 15, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge ruled that a Muslim inmate could move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to receive a Ramadan religious food package which he ordered.

In Gakuba v. Doe, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84070 (SD IL May 17, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was initially denied kosher meals and later was only served them intermittently.

In Thomas v. Wetzel, 2018 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 271 (PA App., May 18, 2018), a Pennsylvania appellate court held that a Muslim inmate could move ahead with his claim that denying him the right to purchase an electric razor violated his religious exercise rights under RLUIPA. The court however dismissed the inmate’s claim that denial of access to a computer and printer violated his RUIPA rights.

In Johnson v. Paul, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84974 (SD NY, May 21, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he was denied “Jewish meals” and that there were no Jewish religious services especially during “past over month”.

In Spearman v. Michigan, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85163 (WD MI, May 22, 2018), a Michigan federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead against certain defendants on his complaint that authorities refused to recognize his Nuwaubian religion, and refused to provide him with a religious diet or allow him to participate in the Ramadan fast.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 14, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Hammock v. Pierce, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76797 (SD NY, May 7, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed a Nation of Islam inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his cassette tapes containing NOI teachings were confiscated when his cell was searched.

In Gwyn v. Booker, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77119 (WD VA, May 7, 2018), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that authorities refused to approve meetings for inmates of the Apostolic faith, separate from multi-denominational Protestant services.

In Wells v. McKoy, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77516 (ND NY, May 7, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing complaints by plaintiffs that the Nation of Islam community was not allowed to select the inmates who would prepare the meals served during Ramadan, and that they were served food during Ramadan that did not meet NOI dietary restrictions.

In Harris v. Food Supervisor Carlock, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77983 (CD IL, May 9, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was denied his religious vegan diet for an eight day period.

In Hammer v. Smith, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80169 (WD VA, May 10, 2018), a Virginia federal district court dismissed, without prejudice, a civil detainee’s claim that state hospital policy violated his free exercise rights by denying him “the right to enter into holy matrimony”.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 7, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Warner v. Friedman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70564 (ND CA, April 26,2018), a California federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with claims of violation of a settlement agreement reached in his prior litigation regarding a kosher diet.

In Wilkins v. Macomber, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70586 (ED CA, April 26, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint regarding access to kosher meals and Jewish religious services, but with an an opportunity to amend his complaint to clarify his allegations as to religious services.

In Long v. California, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72460 (ED CA, April 30, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge rejected a civil detainee’s claim that anyone who follows Jesus Christ should be allowed to rule over the world, and his request to be released so he can do so.

In Nelson v. Hjorth, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73825 (D NE, May 2, 2018), a Nebraska federal district court allowed a pre-trial detainee to move ahead with her complaint that she was denied access to newspaper and magazine subscriptions, but dismissed her complaint that religious and spiritual publications are banned and that inmates attending Protestant Bible study are not allowed to attend Catholic religious services.

In Rafiq v. United States, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73771 (WD LA, April 30, 2018), a Louisiana federal magistrate judge gave a Muslim inmate 30 days to amend his complaint to cure pleading deficiencies.  The suit complains of access to clergy, religious classes, congregate worship and Ramadan observance, and of favoritism to Christianity in holiday decorations.

In Smith v. Davis, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75567 (D WV, May 4, 2018), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75795, April 10, 2018), and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not served hot meals on three days during Ramadan.

In Mayo v. Cameron, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75822 (WD PA, May 2, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Baptist inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to purchase a Crucifix  because it was identified as a Catholic religious article.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 30, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Howard v. Skolnik, (9th Cir., April 23, 2018), the 9th Circuit upheld a prison’s cancellation of Nation of Islam services for security reasons.

In Wallace v. Ducart, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66371 (ND CA, April 19, 2018), a California federal district court held that an inmate could move ahead with an equal protection claim alleging that he was fired from his prison job because of his religion.

In McDougald v. Davis, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66626 (SD OH, April 20, 2018), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Jewish inmate’ complaint that he was initially denied kosher meals.

In Ealom v. United States, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66792 (D KA, April 20, 2018), a Kansas federal district court held that a female Muslim inmate who claimed that she has been harassed about her religious headgear and once was not allowed to go receive medication until she removed it did not adequately allege free exercise of 8th Amendment claims.

In Rose v. Annucci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67017 (ND NY, April 19, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing claims by a Muslim inmate that he was not permitted to participate in Eid-Ul-Adha and Ramadan.  Plaintiff, among other things, refused or failed to comply with required paperwork.

In Hill v. Smith, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67019 (ND NY, April 19, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a formerly-Protestant but now Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was told to take off his Kufi.  Apparently authorities were concerned that its color indicated gang affiliation.

In Snowden v. Prince George’s County Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68419 (D MD, April 23, 2018), a Maryland federal district court denied a default judgment to Muslim inmates complaining that they were prevented from having Friday religious services and daily congregational prayers.

In Cary v. Crooms, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69377 (ED MI, April 25, 2018), a Michigan federal district court allowed a Native American inmate to move ahead with his complaint over the way his medicine bag and herbs were treated during a cell search.

In Clark v. United States, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69527 (ED KY, April 24, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a correctional officer made derisive comments about his being a Moorish-American Muslim.

In Irsan v. Gonzalez, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70204 (SD TX, April 26, 2018), a Texas federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that during Ramadan he was offered only peanut butter sandwiches instead of hot Halal meals, and his charge that items he used for religious purposes were confiscated from his cell in retaliation for his Muslim beliefs.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 23, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Merrick v. Ryan, (9th Cir., April 17, 2018), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s free exercise and RLUIPA complaints regarding denial of religious materials and practices, finding that the district court properly relied on lack of sincere religious belief.  It also upheld dismissal of equal protection of establishment clause claims.

In Covington v. Bledsoe County Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63311 (ED TN, April 16, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that the jail would not allow Muslim inmates to have a feast or allow outside Muslims in to cook or pray for Ramadan.

In Barfell v. Aramark, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63582 (ED WI, April 16, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint about a 5-day delay in receiving a religious vegan diet and his claim that religious vegan trays routinely contain animal products. However he was not allowed to proceed with his complaint regarding the quality of the vegan food.

In Slater v. Teague, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63263 (D CO, April 12, 2018), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63605, March 21, 2018) and dismissed a former inmate’s complaints regarding availability, timing and preparation of kosher food and his limited access to Jewish religious texts.

In Hearns v. Gonzales, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63885 (ED CA, April 13, 2018), a California federal district court, adopting in part a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28959, Feb. 22, 2018), allowed an inmate to move ahead with retaliation, free exercise and California Bane Act claims complaining that a correctional officer poured bleach on his legal papers and his prayer rug.

In Sims v. Wegman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64678 (ED CA, April 16, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that he was refused an NOI, or alternatively a kosher diet.  Dismissal of one defendant was only because of failure to effect service.

In Johnson v. Roskosci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65405 (MD PA, April 17, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that beads and necklaces with religious significance were confiscated.

In Fusco v. Cty. of Putnam, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65444 (SD NY, April 18, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his claim that he was prevented from attending Catholic mass during his placement in segregation.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 16, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Buckley v. Cook, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59987 (SD IL, April 9, 2018), an Illinois federal district court dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that the Alton County Jail did not offer formal religious services on Sundays. The court allowed him to proceed on certain unrelated claims.

In Little v. Guice, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59995 (WD NC, April 6, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was sanctioned for writing his cousin about the Moorish American faith.

In Chila v. Camden County Correctional Facility, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60547 ( NJ, April 9, 2018), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed a female Muslim inmate’s complaint that her hijab was taken from her, she was denied access to a Quran, and she could not leave her cell for religious worship.

In Johnson v. Bienkoski, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61560 (MD PA, April 10, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that his religious beads were confiscated and his commissary privileges were restricted during Ramadan.

In Robertson v. Call, 2018 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 274 (KA App., April 13, 2018), a Kansas Court of Appeals agreed that a prison had not violated the Establishment Clause by limiting a Messianic Jewish inmate’s visits with his rabbi to interaction through video conferencing rather than allowing face-to-face visits. It also agreed that a visit by a Christian ministries group had not violated the Establishment Clause.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 9, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ackridge v. Aramark Correctional Food Services, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54733 (SD NY, March 30, 2018), a New York federal district court in a lengthy opinion, while dismissing numerous claims, allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead on his free exercise claim for delay in receipt of kosher meals and lack of regular Jewish religious services. The opinion includes a lengthy analysis of the state action doctrine as applied to the prison’s food service contractor.

In Seamons v. Ramirez, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55348 (D ID, March 30, 2018), an Idaho federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that, while in administrative segregation, he was limited to possessing no more than the five books and was not provided with regular, in-person, clergy visits.

In DePaola v. Clarke, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55925 (WD VA, March 30, 2018), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was punished with reduced privileges for failing to shave his beard for religious reasons with no barbering services available to trim it, and that he was deprived of attending Jum’ah services or watching them on television.

In Allen v. Kunkel, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56249 (D CT, April 2, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court allowed a Moorish-American inmate to move ahead with his complaint regarding denial of access to a particular book and refusal to allow him to purchase a fez.  It dismissed his claim that he was denied the right to choose his nationality under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In Rickman v. Martin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55624 (WD MI, April 2, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56828, Feb. 21, 2018) and allowed a Hebrew-Israelite inmate to move ahead with complaints that his request for a religious diet was denied as was his request to purchase a kufi and Star of David pendant.

In Hall v. Annucci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57317 (ND NY, April 4, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his amended complaint that contends he was served meals that do not comply with requirements for Halal food.

In McLendon v. Montgomery County Jail, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58365 (MD TN, April 5, 2018), a Maryland federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with 1st and 8th Amendment claims against a jail chaplain contending that plaintiff was not furnished nutritionally adequate meals that complied with his religious diet.

In Allen v. Holt, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58362 (MD TN, April 5, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court held that inmates have not alleged a substantial burden on free exercise by alleging that during religious services in their housing pod the television is on at high volume and inmates not attending the service are out of their cells talking loudly.

In Larry v. Goldsmith, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59100 (ED WI, March 30, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that officers prevented him from praying on one ocassion during
Ramadan, but dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies his complaint that he was not allowed to have his meals during Ramadan later in  the day.

In Wells v. Gonzales, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59198 (ED CA, April 6, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Native American inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that a correctional officer confiscated and handled disrespectfully a native spiritual totem of Plaintiff’s which was on display for Native Heritage Month. He also can pursue retaliation claims against defendant.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 3, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Patterson v. Quigley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54165 (ED PA, March 30, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the presence of guns during religious services generally prevented him from focusing on prayer, and that he was also prevented from engaging in religious exchange with other inmates.

In Muhammad v. Wheeler, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54292 (ED AR, March 30, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court ordered that a Muslim inmate be provided a halal diet that includes one daily serving of halal meat, kosher meat or fish.

In Johnson v. Lopez, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54348 (D NV, March 30, 2018), a Nevada federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed on his claim that he was denied adequate edible food, that he was denied his Eid al-Fitr feast in 2014, and on his request to be allowed to possess scented oils and obtain pre-dawn Ramadan meals.

In Dorsey v. Shearin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54440 (D MD, March 30, 2018), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Native American inmate that he was not allowed to attend group religious services because of his disciplinary segregation.

In Sims v. Jones, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53094 (ND FL, March 29, 2018), a Florida federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54652, March 1, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s 1st Amendment challenge to a beard length rule and strip search policy.  The magistrate had concluded, however, that defendant had violated RLUIPA.  The court, nevertheless, sent back to the magistrate judge for additional consideration plaintiff’s RLUIPA challenges.

In Sanford v. Madison County, Illinois, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54704 (SD IL, March 29, 2018), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54709, March 1, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the county jail did not allow Jumu’ah services to be held in a common space on Fridays, but only allowed use of a fellow-inmate’s cell.

In Lombardo v. Freebern, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54735 (SD NY, March 30, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed without prejudice claims by a Jewish inmate at a psychiatric detention center that his free exercise was burdened by denial of religious items and grape juice, interruption of his conversation with a rabbi, delivery of a broken menorah and denial of attendance at a Passover seder.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 2, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Powers v. Jones, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50418 (MD FL, March 27, 2018),  Florida federal district court allowed a Messianic Jewish inmate to move ahead against a Department of Corrections official with his complaint that authorities refused to provide him his Sabbath meal a day in advance so it would not be cooked on the Sabbath.

In March v. Aramark Corp., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51258 (ED TN, March 28, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with free exercise challenges regarding compliance of his meals with kosher standards and actions of correctional officials in serving him these meals.  However the court rejected plaintiff’s attempts to challenge more broadly the food contract and conduct of the food service provider in obtaining and fulfilling the contract.

In James v. Virginia Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51284 (WD VA, March 28, 2018), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to have matzah and grape juice for Sabbath ceremonies in his cell and his complaint that a cardiac version of the Common Fare diet was not available.

In Burke v. Clarke, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51403 (WD VA, March 27, 2018) a Virginia federal district court allowed a Rastafarian inmate to move ahead on claims that he was not allowed congregate meetings with other Rastafarians and was not allowed Rastafarian holiday meals or religious items.

In Johnson v. Secretary of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52357 (D MN, March 27, 2018), a New Mexico federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, a Muslim inmate’s complaint charging religious and racial discrimination when he was fired from his prison job and reassigned to a less desirable one after he left early to attend a religious service.

In Bey v. Tennessee Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52572 (ED TN, March 29, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he could not buy certified Halal prayer oil, and his complaint regarding the Halal food menu and timing of Ramadan trays in 2014.

In Mack v. Walker, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53316 (SD IL, March 29, 2018), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied access to Hebrew Israelite religious services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 1, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Clark v. Daddysman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47976 (D MD, March 22, 2018), a Maryland federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his kufi was wrongfully seized.

In Reynolds v. Beasley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48189 (SD MS, March 23, 2018), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to attend a Jum’ah service.

In Lanahan v. Taller, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48669 (D MD, March 23, 2018), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a complaint by an involuntarily committed psychiatric patient that he was not permitted to go outside to conduct Native American religious ceremonies.

In Browning v. Pszczolkowski, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49313 (ND WV, March 26, 2018), a West Virginia federal magistrate judge dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an Orthodox Jewish inmate’s complaint regarding interference with various religious practices– religious holidays, food, religious correspondence course, receipt of tefillin.

In Becker v. Carney, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49590 (WD WA, March 26, 2018), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49708, Feb. 20, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was unable to obtain a religious diet that also met his therapeutic dietary needs.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 26, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Furr v. Kelley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43468 (ED AR, March 16, 2018), an Arkansas federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing claims by a Native American inmate that he was denied various ceremonial objects and a religious adviser.

In Burley v. Abdellatif, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44187 (ED MI, March 19, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44390, Jan. 26, 2018) and dismissed a number of claims but allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that the prison physician violated his 1st Amendment protection against retaliation by refusing to treat him because he is Jewish.

In Maye v. Klee, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44188 (ED MI, March 19, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44618, Jan.24, 2018) and granted a Nation of Islam inmate summary judgment on his complaint that the prison chaplain did not permit him to participate in Eid al-Fitr celebrations. He was allowed to move ahead with a free exercise claim against one other defendant.  Supplemental briefing was ordered on the issue of damages.

In Le Bourgeois v. Wolf, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44990 (ED WI, March 19, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his religious book was seized and destroyed. He was allowed to move ahead with various other claims.

In Goff v. Todd, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46294 (ED LA, March 21, 2018), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47329, Feb. 27, 2018) and in a suit by a Muslim inmate ordered that defendants file further pleadings explaining the prison policy that prevents plaintiff from wearing kufi caps.

In Adams-Bey v. Rogers, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46307 (WD NC, March 21, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed (unless an amended complaint is filed) a suit by an inmate claiming that he was discriminated against and insulted based on his Moorish-American religion, that his religious material was confiscated and his religion was classified as a security threat group.

In Booker v. Engelke, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46918 (WD VA, March 22, 2018), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Nation of Islam inmate to proceed with his complaint that his free exercise rights are infringed by limits on his access to the common fare diet, the content of that diet, the requirement that he eat his meals very quickly, and his inability to observe Eid-ul-Adha.

In Cary v. Mox, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47078 (ED MI, March 22, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48417, Feb. 8, 2018) and denied a preliminary injunction sought by an inmate who is a member of the Native American Traditional Way. Plaintiff asked for a ban on prison authorities physically touching medicine bags and herbs as part of a rewrite of procedures for searching these items.

In Maciejka v. Williams, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47474 (SD FL, March 21, 2018), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended that a former inmate who is Catholic be allowed to proceed on a claim for nominal damages.  Plaintiff alleged that while in prison he was unable to attend group worship, celebrate certain religious holidays, obtain spiritual advice, keep religious materials and publications, or obtain religious property such as a Rosary and Scapular.

In Rivera v. Davey, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47691 (ED CA, March 21, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Jewish inmate’s claim that he was denied the facility chapel to practice obligatory prayers and holy day events.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 21, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Quiero v. Muniz, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41981 (MD PA, March 13, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Christian inmate’s complaint that while in restricted housing unit for ten days, he was denied access to Bible study and church services and could not meet one-on-one with chapel staff.

In Shields v. Kahn, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42194 (SD CA, March 14, 2018), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead on his complaint that he was denied participation in Ramadan meals.  He seeks to have the Muslim chaplain rather than other inmates control Islamic services.

In Gonzalez v. Morris, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42534 (ND NY, March 15, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate who is a practitioner of Santeria to move ahead with his complaint that his equal protection rights were infringed when he was denied matches or a lighter to burn offerings. Various other claims were dismissed.

In McCoy v. Aramark Correctional Services, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43301 (D KA, March 16, 2018), a Kansas federal district court allowed an Orthodox Jewish inmate to move ahead with claims that the meals served to him as kosher were not prepared and served in conformity with Jewish dietary laws.

In Doyle v. United States, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43388 (ED KY, March 16, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that inmates can pray only in groups of two or three.  Various other claims were dismissed.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 19, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ralston v. Cannon, (10th Cir., March 13, 2018), the 10th Circuit held it could not review in an interlocutory appeal on qualified immunity the district court’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable juror to find that defendant intentionally interfered with plaintiff’s right to free exercise by denying his kosher diet request.

In Roberts v. Perry, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39596 (WD NC, March 9, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he was prevented from enrolling in the Messianic Faith Group to begin a weekly educational class, and that his mail (including religious correspondence and books from unauthorized sources) was stopped and another book was seized as contraband.

In Ward v. Rice, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39884 (WD AR, March 12, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that prison policy bars the use of prayer rugs without alternatives being provided.  The court dismissed claims regarding the inmate’s food tray and temporary denial of his Quran.

In Crowe v. Marquis, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40062 (ND OH, March 12, 2018), an Ohio federal district court dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that his prayer pipe was lost or stolen and that he was misinformed that prison policy would allow his family to send him tobacco.

In Venkataram v. Bureau of Prisons, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39504 (SD FL, March 9, 2018), a Florida federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40075, Jan. 16, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s attempt to obtain a vegetarian diet that complies with Hindu religious requirements.

In Ali v. Eckstein, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40878 (ED WI, March 13, 2018), a Wisconsin federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim for nominal and punitive damages against one defendant growing out of the omission of plaintiff from the list to participate in the Ramadan meal bag program.

In Jones v. Finco, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41191 (WD MI, March 13, 2018), a Michigan federal district court, adopting a magistrate’s recommendation, dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint about the food served to him during Ramadan.

In Mares v. LePage, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41907 (D CO, March 13, 2018), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140796, Aug. 31, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint regarding impediments to changing his religious designation to Judaism, receiving kosher meals, a personal Torah and a visiting rabbi.

In Sangraal v. Godinez, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41952 (SD IL, March 13, 2018), an Illinois federal district court awarded $1 nominal damages to a former inmate who followed pagan beliefs who challenged prisons’ banning the pentacle, limiting the use of tarot cards, requiring additional screening of pagan literature, and subjecting him to religious messages in the chapel.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 12, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Hardy v. Agee, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 5648 (6th Cir., March 5, 2018), the 6th Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies of a suit by a Muslim inmate claiming that while on room restriction he was prevented from attending religious services and classes.

In England v. Walsh, (9th Cir., March 9, 2018), the 9th Circuit upheld dismissal of claims regarding failure to list Nation of Islam in the Nevada Department of Corrections Religious Practice Manual, and furnishing an inmate a vegetarian diet to meet NOI dietary requirements.

In Ackbar v. Byers, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36006 (D SC, March 5, 2018), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37278, Jan. 22, 2018) and dismissed a complaint by an inmate that his Nation of Gods and Earths material was confiscated.

In Duncan v. Lay, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35213 (ED AR, March 5, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36288, Feb. 14, 2018) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he has been denied access to the chapel library.

In Broyles v. Presley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36190 (D KA, March 6, 2018), a Kansas federal district court dismissed a suit alleging lack of kosher food brought by an inmate who says he practices the Jewish faith, Yahweh Assembly in Yahshua.

In Goddard v. Alexakos, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36322 (ED KY, March 6, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that the federal medical center at which he was confined only offered a general Christian religious service and would not provide a separate service for “The Way” (a non-Protestant Christian religion).

In Carawan v. Mitchell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36897 (WD NC, March 6, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the prison had discontinued the Zakat fund through which inmates could fulfill their religious obligation to give charity.

In Trainauskas v. Fralicker, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37408 (SD IL, March 7, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint regarding disciplinary sanction related to letters he wrote about an Odinist religion known as The Guardians of Othala Kindred.

In Walker v. Harris, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37693 (MD GA, March 8, 2018), a Georgia federal district court adopted most of a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38118, Feb. 9, 2018) and allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with an excessive force claim, but not a free exercise or RLUIPA claim, regarding action against him for tucking his pants legs in his socks.

In Dawson v. Wagatsuma, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39037 (D HI, March 9, 2018), a Hawaii federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that he was required to denounce his Native Hawaiian Religion in order to participate in the prison’s Module Contract Program.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 26, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Dunham v. Wainwright, (5th Cir., Feb. 22, 2018), the 5th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that limits on the number of letters he can send at state expense interferes with his right to send correspondence to religious organizations.

In Jordan v. Commonwealth, (VA Sup. Ct., Feb. 22, 2018), the Virginia Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s refusal to allow an inmate to change his name after he underwent a religious conversion. The inmate conceded that the denial would not hinder his free exercise of religion.

In Gillen v. Parker, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26881 (MD TN, Feb. 20, 2018), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended upholding a prison’s requirement that Musliim inmates must register their religion in order to participate in Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

In Clemens v. Warden, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27146 (ED PA, Feb. 20, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that one of his two Bibles was confiscated.

In Dawdy v. Allen, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27207 (ED MO, Feb. 21, 2018), a Missouri federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with a variety of complaints regarding the availability of kosher meals on holidays and the Sabbath; the requirement that there be 5 members for a religious community to have access to materials and services; and the denial of canteen funds for Jewish needs.

In Thomas v. Lakin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27576 (SD IL, Feb. 21, 2018), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27639, Jan. 22, 2018) and dismissed as moot an inmate’s complaint that his requests for a copy of the Qur’an, a prayer mat, religious services, and a religious diet were denied.

In Hartney v. Butcher, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28765 (SD TX, Feb. 21, 2018), a Texas federal district court dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that some of his religious articles were confiscated.

In Hearns v. Gonzales, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28959 (ED CA, Feb. 22, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge allowed a Muslim former inmate to move ahead with his retaliation and free exercise claims growing out of a correctional officer’s pouring bleach on, and confiscating, his prayer rug.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 19, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mikell v. Folino, (3d Cir., Feb. 13, 2018), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he did not receive Ramadan meals.

In Corbett v. Annucci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24291 (SD NY, Feb. 13, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims for injunctive relief alleging that he did not receive Halal meals.

In Jones v. Annucci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24359 (SD NY, Feb. 13, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was required to change his religious registration from Islam to Shia before he could participate in Shia religious events.

In Thomas v. Slusher, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25916 (ND OH, Feb. 16, 2018), an Ohio federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was transferred out of the faith-based prison unit.

In Woods v. Paramo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25989 (SD CA, Feb. 15, 2018), a California federal court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his suit challenging delays in providing a kosher diet when he is transferred for extensive periods.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 12, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Fox v. Lee, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19402 (ND NY, Feb. 5, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended denying an inmate’s motion for summary judgment in his suit claiming to be an adherent of the Anuaki religion and needing to wear his hair in a Mohawk cut for religious reasons.

In Blackbear v. Butler County Jail, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19935 (D KA, Feb. 7, 2018), a Kansas federal district court rejected an inmate’s complaint that for 3 weeks he was denied a special diet he needed for religious reasons.

In Sajous v. Withers, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20191 (SD FL, Feb. 6, 2018), a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20820, Jan. 16, 2018) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a Haitian Flag Day ceremonial meal was canceled and that he is unable to practice his Vodoo religion.

In Williams v. Paramo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21191 (SD CA, Feb. 7, 2018), a California federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to participate in Ramadan in 2017.

In Icangelo v. County of Suffolk, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21903 (ED NY, Feb. 8, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with this complaint that for 6 weeks he was not allowed to attend Jummah religious services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 6, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Michalski v. Semple, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13382 (D CT, Jan. 28, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court allowed a Native American inmate t move ahead with his complaint that officials refused to provide adequate winter clothing during his smudging times. It also permitted adding of a defendant to his complaint over denial of smudging.

In Stoltzfus v. Hutchins, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14539 (SD IN, Jan. 30, 2018), an Indiana federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that he was denied access to a Bible.

In Slater v. Askew, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14757 (MD AL, Jan. 30, 2018), an Alabama federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding wearing a beard, religious services and classes, religious mail, religious ID cards and other religious items.

In Staples v. Bellafonte, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14950 (D NJ, Jan. 26, 2018), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed an inmate’s free exercise and religious discrimination claims against a county jail.

In Wright v. Stallone, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15732 (ND NY, Jan. 31, 2018), a New York federal district court issued a preliminary injunction allowing a Muslim inmate to engage in individual demonstrable prayer during outdoor recreation, but denied a preliminary injunction as to group prayer.

In Pouncil v. Sherman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15961 (ED CA, Jan.31, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied meals on one night of Ramadan.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 29, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Tehuti v. Robinson, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9370 (WD VA, Jan. 22, 2018), a Virginia federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that the African American Church should be recognized and its religious services accommodated.

In Scally v. Arsaunt, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9915 (ED CA, Jan. 19, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was strip searched in the presence of female staff members.

In Al-Fuduyi v. California City Facility, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10049 (ED CA, Jan. 22, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that Muslim religious services were not available.

In Tripati v. Corizon Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10532 (D AZ, Jan. 23, 2018), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Hindu inmate’s complaint that he could not receive a diet that met both his medical and his religious needs.

In Chappell v. Gilmore, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10655 (WD PA, Jan. 22, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend Nation of Islam services before he changed his religious preference registration.

In McClain v. Murry, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10763 (ED PA, Jan. 19, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed with leave to amand an inmate’s claim that he was denied religious materials.

In Rahman v. Grafton Correctional Institution, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11559 (ND OH, Jan. 24, 2018), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11562, Jan. 8, 2018) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint about remarks from officers about his religion.

In Love v. Melvin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11810 (CD IL, Jan. 25, 2018), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was wrongly removed from the Ramadan list.

In Prosha v. Robinson, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12574 (ED VA, Jan. 25, 2018), a Virginia federal district court allowed a House of Yahweh member to move ahead against one defendant on his claim he was provided religiously inadequate meals during Passover.

In Carawan v. Mitchell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13081 (WD NC, Jan. 26, 2018), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was forced to reduce the number of books in his possession, which necessarily required him to eliminate religious and legal books.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 22, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ollie v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6684 (SD IL, Jan. 16, 2018), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a Christian inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend congregate religious services while in the Staff Assaulter Program.

In Jackson v. Climmer, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6656 (D OR, Jan. 16, 2018), an Oregon federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215490, Nov. 22, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s allegations that pork was included in his diet.

In Thompson v. Premo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7907 (D OR, Jan. 16, 2018), an Oregon federal district court, in an inmate’s challenge to his sentence, rejected his argument that jurors’ free exercise rights were infringed when jurors were death-qualified for the guilt phase of his trial.

In Braziel v. Roy, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7106 (D MN, Jan. 17, 2018), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215627, Dec. 21, 2017) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding his suspension from the religious diet program and the policy underlying his suspension.

In Ramsey v. Fischer, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9114 (WD NY, Jan. 18, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that upon transfer it took a week for him to be placed on the kosher meal plan and another month to receive matzah and grape juice for Friday evening Sabbath services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 15, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Carter v. Fleming, (4th Cir., Jan. 8, 2018), the 4th Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants in an inmate’s suit claiming that the Common Fare menu does not comply with Nation of Islam dietary restrictions because it includes fried foods and challenging his suspension from the Common Fare diet.

In Brooks v. Williams, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3050 (Jan. 8, 2018), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214438, Dec. 19, 2017) and refused to dismiss on exhaustion grounds an inmate’s claim that he was denied access to Rastafari Sabbath services.

In Newman v. Grzegorek, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3626 (ND IN, Jan. 9, 2018), an Indiana federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead whit his challenge to jail policies that prevented him from attending church services and Bible study.

In Trisvan v. Annucci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3851 (ED NY, Jan. 9, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to file an amended complaint a parolee’s claim that his curfew and travel conditions prohibit him from praying at a mosque and participating in Ramadan between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM, and from making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

In Canseco v. Spearman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3991 (ED CA, Jan. 9, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend evening religious activities in the dining hall during Ramadan.

In Wallace v. Ducart, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4684 (ND CA, Jan. 10, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that he was required to strip in front of female guards in violation of his religious beliefs, and was not allowed to properly clean himself before prayer.

In Hatcher v. Trotter, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4926 (WD TN, Jan. 11, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court, adopting a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215104, Dec. 20, 2017) dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was unable to attend Sunday religious services on one occasion due to a lock down.

In Rivera v. Davey, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5422 (ED CA, Jan. 10, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was denied the opportunity to perform obligatory Jewish prayer services and holy day events.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 31, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Murphy, 2017 Conn. Super. LEXIS 4974 (CT Super., Nov. 28, 2017), a Connecticut trial court dismissed an inmate’s complaints that his religious oils and his gold chain and cross were placed in temporary storage; however the court allowed him to move ahead on his claim that his oils were wrongly classified as contraband.

In Kollock v. Beemer, 2017 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 883 (NPA Commnw. Ct., Nov. 39, 2917), a Pennsylvania state appeals court rejected an inmate’s claim that the sex offender treatment program required for parole forces him to admit guilt in violation of his religious convictions by forcing him to bear false witness against himself.

In Riddick v. Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211696 (WD VA, Dec. 26, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaints that his request for Passover participation and food were not processed, was denied the Common Fare diet, and was not permitted to celebrate both Passover and Ramadan.

In Leibelson v. Collins, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212026 (SD WV, Dec. 27, 2017), dismissed the claim by a former inmate who is a transgender woman that her rights were infringed when she was removed from chapel which she was attending.  She attended so she could spend time with another inmate with whom she was having intimate relations.

In Orozco v. Kernan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212146 (ED CA, Dec. 26, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Jewish inmate’s complaint that Jewish inmates are spread out among institutions so that none of the locations have ten men for a prayer minyan.

In Monroe v. Gerbing, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212172 (SD NY, Dec. 27, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that during Ramadan, his medications were delivered during fasting hours.

In United States v. Parson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213201 (D NE, Dec. 29, 2017), a Nebraska federal district court ordered an inmate to submit to tuberculosis testing, rejecting his claim that this impermissibly violates his religious rights.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 25, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Howard v. Joyce Meyer Ministries, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207022 (ED WI, Dec. 18, 2017),  a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that the prison promoted Christianity through a Library drawing, a gift bag give away, and Christian radio programming, as well as his claim that he was not allowed to possess a Buddha emblem necklace.

In Cooper v. Bower, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207350 (WD KY, Dec. 15, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court held that correctional officers were entitled to qualified immunity as to their rejection of a Qur’an that had been mailed to plaintiff inmate.

In Spearman v. Williams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208111 (WD MI, Dec. 19, 2017), a Michigan federal district court dismissed on statute of limitations grounds an inmate’s claim that his Nuwaubian religious scrolls were lost when he was moved to a different room.

In Sabir v. Williams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208640 (D CT, Dec. 19, 2017), a Connecticut federal district court permitted a Musim inmate to move ahead with his complaint about prison policy that prohibited gropu prayer outside of the chapel.

In Endicott v. Allen, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209998 (ED MO, Dec. 21, 2017), a Missouri federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with a number of complaints regarding availability of kosher meals, food items and religious materials. Among his charges he claims that the canteen manipulates the items listed as kosher to catch him buying non-kosher food and obtain his removal from the religious diet list.

In Cochran v. Sherman, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210403 (ED CA, Dec. 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate to proceed against certain defendants who denied his religious request for a publicly recorded legal name change to Gabriel Christian Hunter.

In Hearns v. Gonzales, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210517 (ED CA, Dec. 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a former inmate to move ahead with his complaint regarding a retaliatory cell search, but dismissed with leave to amend his complaint regarding damage to and confiscation of his prayer rug.

In Davis v. Hamilton County Jail, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210697 (ED TN, Dec. 22, 2017),a Tennessee federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that verbal harassment interfered with his ability to practice his religion.

In Saif’Ullah v. Albritton, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211188 (ND CA, Dec. 21, 2017), a California federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding reminders about the ban on large group noon and afternoon congregational prayer during open day room.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 18, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Kemp v. Liebel, (7th Cir., Dec. 11, 2017), the 7th Circuit upheld qualified immunity for an official who transferred two Jewish inmates to another facility so they could obtain kosher meals, but did not delay the transfer until the new facility offered Jewish group worship and study.

In Reed v. Bryant, (10th Cir., Dec. 13, 2017), the 10th Circuit held that the district court should not have dismissed an inmate’s due process and RLUIPA challenges to a zero tolerance rule that automatically suspends and inmate’s kosher diet if he consumes any non-kosher food.

In Schuh v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25351 (6th Cir., Dec. 14, 2017), the 6th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a kosher diet because his insufficient knowledge of Judaism showed a lack of sincerity of belief.

In Priest v. Holbrook, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203386 (ED MI, Dec. 11, 2017), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Native American inmate that his eagle feathers were stolen or destroyed.

In Dexter v. Olson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203923 (WD MI, Dec. 12, 2017), a Michigan federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims against two officials for refusing to permit Nation of Islam inmates to attend the Eid al-Fitr celebration.

In King v. Lombardi, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203959 (ED MO, Dec. 12, 2017), a Missouri federal district court held that for purposes of the exhaustion requirement, an inmate’s charge that he was unable to attend religious services was not a separate claim, but part of his due process claim challenging his lengthy assignment to administrative segregation.

In Christian Separatist Church Society of Ohio v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205480 (SD OH, Dec. 14, 2017), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended that inmates who are members of the Christian Separatist Church be allowed to move ahead with their claim for declaratory and injunctive relief in their suit challenging prison policy that denies them separate congregate worship and requires they worship with the recognized Protestant Christian organization.

In Cooper v. True, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203780 (D MN, Dec.12, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205900, Nov. 2, 2017) and dismissed a Jewish inmate’s damage claim against a warden who kept him at a facility that lacked access to a rabbi, a Torah, and minyan.

In Greenhill v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206384 (WD VA, Dec. 15, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding ritual contamination of his food tray.  It allowed him to proceed with RLUIPA, but not 1st Amendment, claims regarding beard length and group Jum’ah services.

In Miller v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206382 (WD VA, Dec. 15, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his damage claim growing out of his suspension from the Common Fare diet and denial of his participation in Ramadan.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 11, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wilcox v. Brown, (4th Cir, Dec. 5, 2017), the 4th Circuit, reversing the district court in large part, held that an inmate had adequately stated a free exercise claim for denial of Rastafarian group religious services.

In Butts v. Martin, (5th Cir., Dec. 8, 2017), the 5th Circuit held that the district court had improperly dismissed a Jewish inmate’s free exercise and retaliation claims growing out of a dispute about his wearing his yarmulke at a dinner.

In Ross v. Sandoval, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198670 (D NV, Dec. 4, 2017), a Nevada federal district court allowed a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was denied a vegetable/ plant based diet.

In Cousins v. Lassiter, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198816 (WD NC, Dec. 4, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Rastafarian inmate who is seeking a vegan diet to move ahead with his challenge to regulations that bar him from changing his diet more than once each 90 days.

In Huapaya v. Davey, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199128 (ED CA, Dec. 1, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge gave a Muslim inmate who claimed he was being prevented from attending religious services 30 days to file an amended complaint alleging a resultant substantial burden.

In Mixon v. Tyson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199188 (ED CA, Dec. 4, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge rejected an inmate’s free exercise claim since he was permitted to put on a jump suit when he objected to appearing in his underwear before women.

In West v. Phelps, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199301 (D DE, Dec. 4, 2017), a Delaware federal district court rejected free exercise claims by an inmate who practices the religion of Thelema. Plaintiff claimed he needed a healthy kosher diet; sexual relations with a female to perform a worship rite; and Tarot cards.  He also claimed that his prison job amounted to a form of slavery that violates his religious beliefs.

In Faber v. Smith, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201243 (WD MI, Dec. 7, 2017), a Michigan federal district court held that a Bivens action is not available for a free exercise claim.

In Dawson v. Beard, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201955 (ED CA, Dec. 7, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claim that he was denied access to religious services and the right to fast.

In Thomas v. Bzoskie, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201959 (D MN, Dec. 6, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202511, Oct. 30, 2017) and dismissed on res judicata grounds an inmate’s free-exercise and equal-protection claims regarding Islamic gatherings, access to worship materials, and unequal treatment. It also refused to hear related state claims.

In Hunter v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199955 (SD GA, Dec.5, 2017), a Georgia federal district court held that a religious program run at a private prison violates the Establishment Clause and awarded plaintiff $1 in nominal damages.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 4, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Eckstrom v. Beard, (9th Cir., Nov. 30, 2017), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s claim that the prison’s book policy violates his free exercise rights.

In Shaw v. Kaemingk, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195018 (D SD, Nov. 28, 2017), a South Dakota federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that authorities in numerous ways refused to accommodate his practice of Dorcha Cosàn as well as with his retaliation and other claims.

In Crowder v. Jones, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195779 (SD IN, Nov. 29, 2017), an Indiana federal district court refused to find that a federal prison inmate had a Bivens implied private right of action against a prison chaplain for denial of a kosher diet.  The court relied largely on the Supreme Court’s June 2017 decision in Ziglar v. Abbasi.

In Ali v. Duboise, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196881 (ND OK, Nov. 30, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was told to pray only outside his cell and was threatened, pushed and locked up temporarily when he asked for a more specific location.

In Valerio v. Wrenn, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196632 (D NH, Nov. 29, 2017), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196999, Oct. 23, 2017) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his religious freedom was violated when he was subjected to a visual body cavity search in front of other inmates after being denied a privacy screen.

In Abreu v. Jaime, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 197323 (ED CA, Nov. 29, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint alleging retaliation for appealing denial of Muslim prayers, and alleging denial of religious meals during a transfer.

In Kanatzar v. Cole, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198067 (D KS, Dec. 1, 2017), a Kansas federal district court concluded that a Jewish inmate had adequately alleged a claim against two defendants for failure to provide properly prepared kosher food, and was given 30 days to file an amended complaint as to many other claims/

In Silverman v. Humboldt County Correctional Facility, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198208 (ND CA, Dec. 1, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his claim seeking a kosher diet.

In Kollock v. Beemer, 2017 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 994 (PA Commnwlth. Ct., Nov. 30, 2017), a Pennsylvania appellate court rejected contentions by an inmate convicted of sexual offenses that the requirement he complete a program which includes admission of guilt in order to obtain parole violates his religious rights.  The inmate contended that this requires him to “bear false witness” against himself.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 27, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brooks v. Walsh, (9th Cir., Nov. 22, 2017), the 9th Circuit upheld a qualified immunity defense in an inmate’s suit because “it would not have been clear to every reasonable official that it was unlawful to require Brooks to fill out a Faith Group Affiliation Declaration form in order to reinstate his participation in the Common Fare diet after Brooks’ voluntary withdrawal.”

In King v. Stach, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190788 (WD WA, Nov. 17, 2017), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191891, Oct. 19, 2017) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that unsanitary conditions in his safety/ observation cell made it impossible for him to perform his prayers, and that a corrections officer told him that he would be better off praying to Jesus.

In Veach v. Henderson County Detention Center, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193177 (WD KY, Nov. 22, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he was not given his Jewish meal tray.

In Rivera v. Davey, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193607 (ED CA, Nov. 22, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge ordered dismissal unless an amended complaint is filed of an inmate’s complaint that he was denied equal access to the facility’s chapel for Jewish prayer services and holy day events.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 20, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Grief v. Quay (2d Cir., Nov. 13, 2017), the 2nd Circuit concluded that a district court should not have dismissed as conclusively non-religious an inmate’s claim that stuffed animals are necessary for his religious practice.

In Holt v. Givens, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186752 (ND AL, Nov. Nov. 13, 2017),  an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187165, Oct. 17, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his prayer oil was seized as contraband.

In Moon v. Jordan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187012 (ED MO, Nov. 13, 2017), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not provided an Arabic language Qur’an, a clock for prayer time, a prayer rug, a bottle for cleaning himself after using the restroom, televised Jumu’ah services, or an Imam, and was not permitted to wear a Kufi.

In Bynum v. Poole, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187453 (MD NC, No. 13, 2017), a North Carolina federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that Jumu’ah services were cancelled on one Friday.

In Hewitt v. Johnson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187649 (D SC, Nov. 14, 2017), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187901, Oct. 26, 2017) and dismissed on qualified immunity grounds denial of an inmate’s request for a kosher diet because authorities found his professed belief insincere.

In Muslim v. Carmichael, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188522 (WD NC, Nov. 14, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead wit his damage claim for denial of a Kosher diet and failure to provide an Imam to lead prayer services.

In Johnson v. Fields, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189448 (WD NC, Nov. 16, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court upheld disciplinary sanctions that deprived an inmate of his Bible for 24 days.

In Meza v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189996 (ED CA, Nov. 15, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Catholic inmate’s complaint that because of his alleged gang affiliation he was not allowed to attend his brother’s funeral off prison grounds.

In Shabazz v. Secretary Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190725 (MD FL, Nov. 17, 2017), a Florida federal district court issued a temporary restraining order preventing prison authorities from requiring an inmate to shave his beard that he wears for religious reasons.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 13, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Garner v. Muenchow, (7th Cir., Nov. 8, 2017), the 7th Circuit reversed a Wisconsin federal district court grant of summary judgment for defendants in a suit in which a Muslim inmate alleged free exercise and equal protection violations growing out of efforts to prevent him from obtaining a copy of the Qur’an while in segregation.

In Cavin v. Heyns, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22582 (6th Cir., Sept. 12, 2017), the 6th Circuit affirmed a finding of qualified immunity in a suit by an inmate challenging a blanket ban on attendance at religious services for prisoners on toplock status.

In Broyles v. Presley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182968 (D KA, Nov. 3, 2017), a Kansas federal district court held that plaintiff had stated a free exercise claim regarding his inability to receive a kosher diet.  The court ordered relevant jail officials to investigate the facts, determine what action should be taken and file this as a report along with defendants’ answer.

In Sears v. Thomas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186498 (SD FL, Nov. 8, 2017), a Florida federal district court rejected part of a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137998, Aug. 25, 2017) and held that an inmate can proceed with his claim for nominal damages against a correctional officer who insisted that a chain and crucifix discovered in plaintiff’s cell must be returned to the vendor who sent it.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 6, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Bethel v. Jenkins, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22061 (6th Cir., Sept. 22, 2017), the 6th Circuit held that a district court correctly dismissed an Establishment Clause challenge, but should not have dismissed a free speech and procedural due process challenge, to a policy that barred inmate from receiving printed material ordered by a third party even directly from an approved vendor.

In Hargrove v. Holley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180284 (SD OH, Oct. 31, 2017), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of an inmate’s claim that compelled schooling without an Islamic curriculum violates his free exercise rights.

In Harris v. Cooper, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181249 (ND CA, Nov. 1, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead against certain defendants with his claim that in a cell search his religious materials were confiscated as retaliation and part of a conspiracy to deny him parole because he is a Muslim.

In Maciejka v. Williams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182842 (SD L, Nov. 2, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended ordering plaintiff, a former inmate, to file an amended complaint if he wishes to move ahead with his rambling allegations that while confined he was kept from attending Catholic religious services, and could not celebrate holidays, see chaplains or priests or keep religious publications and religious items such as a rosary and scapular.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 30, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Abdullah v. Cohen, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174961 (D NJ, Oct. 23, 2017), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s suit alleging that hie was not on the Ramadan list and that his isolation in jail prevents him from practicing his religion.

In Green v. Frank Parish Detention Center, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175215 (WD LA, Oct. 20, 2017), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175704, Sept. 19, 2017) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that group Jumah religious services are not offered on Fridays.

In Smith v. Drawbridge, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175014 (WD OK, Oct. 23, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175923,  Sept. 8, 2017) while dismissing a number of claims, allowed an Orthodox Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that the chaplain consistently denied requests for religious accommodation as to food and various religious items and observances.

In Haslett v. Arnold, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175988 (SD IL, Oct. 24, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to observe the Ramadan fast.

In Watkins v. Stogner, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176502 (D NV, Oct. 25, 2017), a Nevada federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint over the manner in which inmates were permitted to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

In Trammell v. McDonnell, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177229 (CD CA, Oct. 25, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that during a one week period he was not provided with Ramadan meals or was provided them only after sunrise.

In Saif’ullah v. Cruzen, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177873  and Smith v. Cruzen, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178733 (ND CA, Oct. 26, 2017), a California federal district court dismissed inmates’ complaints that on one evening during Ramadan Muslim inmates were interrupted and stopped from completing a congregational prayer session.

In Fisk v. Warren County Sheriff’s Department, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178128 (ED TN, Oct. 27, 2017), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that he was denied the things he needed to practice his religion, and dismissed his complaint that he was not permitted to attend his mother’s funeral.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 23, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Davis v. Heyns, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20377 (6th Cir, Oct 16, 2017), the 6th Circuit affirmed dismissal of an Muslim inmate’s complaint that the only religious diet he could receive was the vegan diet.

In Cooper v. Bower, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171529 (WD KY, Oct. 17, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to receive a copy of the Quran which had been ordered for him.

In Howard v. Connett, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172130 (D NV, Oct. 17, 2017), a California federal district court reduced the punitive damages that had previously been awarded against two specific defendants on an inmate’s complaint that his religious items were not returned when he was placed in a different cell, and his equal protection complaint that he was unable to attend Nation of Islam services.  The court refused to reduce punitive damages as to other claims.

In Cripe v. Gliddenn, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172393 (SD IL, Oct. 18, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a kosher diet.

In Toney v. Harrod, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173946 (D KA, Oct. 20, 2017), a Kansas federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead against one defendant on his claim that his Ramadan meals were not served early enough.

In Johnson v. Little, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174006 (D NV, Oct. 18, 2017), a Nevada federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding the timing of his Ramadan meals.

In Moir v. Amdahl, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174216 (SD IL, Oct. 19, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his prayer rug was confiscated.

In Sassi v. Dutchess County, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174507 (ND NY, Oct. 20, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that he was not permitted to access a Bible for seven days and was not permitted to participate in Bible study classes.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 16, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Entler v. Gregoire, (9th Cir., Oct. 6, 2017), the 9th Circuit held that an inmate who was sanctioned for threatening to sue after he was given a job assignment inconsistent with his religious beliefs has a valid retaliation claim.

In Finley v. Cox, (9th Cir., Oct. 6, 2017), the 9th Circuit upheld a trial court’s dismissal of complaints by inmates that they were offered a common fare religious diet instead of pre-packaged kosher meals.

In Michalski v. Semple, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166524 (D CT, Oct. 6, 2017), a Connecticut federal district court allowed Native American inmates to move ahead with their complaint that defendants suspended their religious services for several months, denied collective smudging, restricted access to the sweat lodge, denied adequate ceremonial foods, and provided an unequal amount of chaplains, supplies, literature and educational opportunities.

In Hamrick v. Baird, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168197 (SD IL, Oct. 11, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with a damage claim against a former warden for restrictions on his engaging in daily group prayers, but suggested additional briefing on whether damages are available under RFRA.

In Shorter v. Romero, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168920 (SD FL, Oct. 11, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was not allowed to attend Christian religious services.

In Nible v. Fink, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170015 (SD CA, Oct. 12, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claims against certain defendants growing out of the refusal to allow him to receive a package containing runes that he had ordered.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 9, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Blood, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160062 (D UT, Sept. 27, 2017), a Utah federal district court dismissed an inmate’s clam of retaliation for his complaining about his religious diet. The court agreed to appoint counsel for his complaint regarding ending of Islamic congregational meetings when no approved outside volunteer was available.

In Womack v. Perry, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160271 (ED CA, Sept. 27, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that defendant cancelled bi-weekly Muslim services in one location because of a disagreement with an inmate there.

In Faver v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160857 (WD VA, Sept. 29, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with RLUPA claims regarding wearing of a beard, the source from which he can acquire prayer oils, and his religious diet. His 1st Amendment claims were dismissed.

In Hall v. Helder, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161626 (WD AR, Sept. 29, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that there had been a 2-week delay in furnishing him a religious diet.

In Shabazz v. Lokey, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162270 (WD VA, Sept. 30, 2017), a Virginia federal district court after a bench trial dismissed an inmate’s suit charging confiscation of his Nation of Islam materials.  Officials had mistaken the materials for gang-related Nation of Gods and Earth materials.

In Corley v. City of New York, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162761 (SD NY, Sept. 28, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was prevented from acquiring a “Jewish ID” that would give his access to kosher meals, and was denied kosher meals once he received that ID.

In Cary v. Phol, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163128 (WD MI, Oct. 3, 2017), a Michigan a Michigan federal district court permitted a Native american inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to wear his medicine bag for a 10-day period.

In Cagle v. Ryan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165387 (D AZ, Oct. 4, 2017), an Arizona federal magistrate judge (while dismissing a large number of plaintiff’s claims) allowed an inmate who had converted from Christianity to Islam to move ahead with his complaint about the denial of a halal diet for some 9 months.

In Sariaslan v. Rackley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165681 (ED CA, Oct. 4, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge, in a case on remand from the 9th Circuit, gave a Muslim inmate 30 days to file an adequate amended complaint setting out of his allegations that he purchased raisins, honey, and dates for his Ramadan meal, but never received them.

In O’Carroll v. Lanigan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165788 (D NJ, Oct. 6, 2017), a New Jersey federal district court permitted an inmate who practiced Odinism (Asatru) to move ahead with his complaint that while Christian and Muslim inmates are allowed to wear metal medallions, Odinist inmates are not permitted Thor’s Hammer medallions made of metal.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 2, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Rogers v. Jackson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155893 (ED NC, Sept. 25, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court upheld a prison’s designation of Five Percenters as a security threat group, as well as upholding restrictions on Nation of Islam. The court also sealed exhibits in the case because they would create a security risk if exposed to inmates.

In Gordon v. Combs, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156357 (WD VA, Sept. 25. 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Nation of Islam inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to participate in the fast of Ramadan in 2014.

In Bayadi v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156356 (WD VA, Sept. 25, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim under RLUIPA challenging a grooming policy that barred him from growing a beard.

In Rushdan v. Gear, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156675 (ED CA, Sept. 25, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge held that an inmate’s free exercise rights were not violated when authorities, while allowing him to use both his committed name and his religious name on prison forms, required his list his committed name first.

In Lightner v. Wenderlich, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157831 (WD NY, Sept. 25, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that he could not receive a Halal diet containing meat, but dismissed without prejudice his claim regarding access to an Islamic study correspondence course.

In Olds v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158328 (WD VA, Sept. 27, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint about Common Fare religious diet and transfer of inmates who violate grooming standards.

In Kasel v. Sedgwick County Detention Facility, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158598 (D KA, Sept. 27, 2017), a Kansas federal district court gave a Wiccan inmate one month to show cause why his complaint regarding denial of religious services and materials should not be dismissed.

In Chichakli v. Samuels, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158703 (WD OK, Sept. 27, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159964, Aug. 15, 2017) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that the diet served him did not comply with kosher standards, but dismissed his complaint regarding access to religious materials and ability to engage in prayer.

In Peyton v. Walrath, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158820 (WD VA, Sept. 27, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint regarding unlawful confiscation of religious materials and suspension of NOI group services.  Other complaints were dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

In Lawson v. Carney, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160030 (ED WA, Sept. 28, 2017), a Washington federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that his kosher diet was suspended for 77 days.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 25, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Paliotta v. State of Nevada ex rel Nevada Department of Corrections, (NV Sup. Ct., Sept. 14, 2017), the Nevada Supreme Court held that the trial court erred when it used the centrality test instead of the sincerely held belief test to decide if an inmate of the Thelemic faith was entitled to receive a kosher diet or a traditional Egyptian diet.

In Brown v. Solomon, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150611 (WD NC, Sept. 15, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his efforts to reinstate separate religious services for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In Neely-Bey Tarik-El v. Conley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151714 (SDIN, Sept. 19, 2017), an Indiana federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a suit by an inmate claiming that his rights were violated when prison authorities disciplined him for violating a resolution of the Moorish Science Temple of America prohibiting him from actively engaging in MSTA religious services.

In Sabin v. Karber, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152476 (WD MI, Sept. 20, 2017), a Michigan federal district court dismissed complaints by a Messianic Christian prison ministry that mail it sent into prisons was being rejected.

In Evans v. Lopez, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153274  (ED CA, Sept. 15, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied Ramadan meals that he had bee approved to receive.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 18, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Canada v. Gregg, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146892 (WD VA, Sept. 12, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that changes in the common fare diet menu caused him to lose substantial weight.

In Goins v. Fleming, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146891 (WD VA, Sept. 12, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint regarding kufi use during pod recreation and bathroom access during Sunni group services.  However the court dismissed a number of other claims regarding religious diet and location and monitoring of Sunni religious services.

In Jones v. North Carolina Department of Public Safety, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147950 (WD NC, Sept. 12, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was required to shave his beard before he could go to a work-release job interview.

In Stansel v. Sorey, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147985 (ND FL, Sept. 13, 2017), a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148260, Aug. 8, 2017) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that an offer by an “Islamic sponsor” to provide funding for Ramadan and Eid al Fitr observances was rejected, while sponsors were accepted for other religious groups.

In Frazier v. Florida Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148814 (Sept. 14, 2017), a Florida federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaints regarding the adequacy and availability of a kosher diet.

In Johnson v. Swibas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149163 (D CO, Sept. 13, 2017), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150250, July 28, 2017) and dismissed a Messianic Jewish inmate’s complaint that he could not obtain an alternative kosher diet without confirmed medical food allergy test results.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 11, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Nunez v. Wertz, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142825 (MD PA, Sept. 1, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his rights under RLUIPA were violated when he was not permitted to wear his pants with legs rolled up to expose his ankles, except during religious services.

In Riley v. Franke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142971 (ED WI, Sept. 5, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s claim that a correctional officer engaged in religious discrimination by dropping his Ramadan meals on the floor.

In Troutman v. Mutayoba, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144100 (SD IL, Sept. 6, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that authorities refused to provide him with a diet consistent with his Native American religious beliefs.

In Thomas v. Pingotti, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144173 (ND NY, Sept. 6, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that during his keeplock confinement he was not allowed to attend Jum’mah services,  or the prayer and festival to break Ramadan.

In Gambino v. Payne, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144337 (WD NY, Sept. 1, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge in a suit brought by an inmate who was in the process of converting to Judaism recommended dismissing his complaint that showers with inadequate privacy violated his free exercise rights, but allowed him to move ahead with his claim against certain defendants that he was purposely served contaminated kosher meals which defendants refused to replace.

In Meza v. California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144415 (ED CA, Sept. 6, 2017), dismissed with leave to amend a Catholic inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend a funeral outside of prison because of his alleged gang affiliation.

In Brim v. Donovan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144497 (W WI, Sept. 7, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with a complaint that his name was removed from the congregate services pass list for 90 days and his name was not put on the 2015 Ramadan list.

In Allah v. Annucci, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145104 (SD NY, Sept. 7, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claims that he was not allowed to attend two Shi’ite holy day events.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 4, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Niederberger v. Guyll, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135552 (WD AR, Aug. 24, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint about problems with this kosher meals.

In Troutman v. Miami Correctional Facility, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136753 (ND IN, Aug. 25, 2017), an Indiana federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with complaints that he was not permitted to attend Friday worship services after the end of his work shift, that his firing from his prison job was motivated by religious and racial animus, and with certain retaliation claims.

In Sears v. Thomas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137998 (SD FL, Aug. 25, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to keep a chain and cross purchased from a non-approved vendor.

In Diaz v. Wall, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139421 (D RI, July 10, 2017), a Rhode Island federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend religious services while in segregation for narcotics trafficking or while in High Security.

In Williams v. New York State Office of Mental Health, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140151 (ED NY, Aug. 29, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing complaints by plaintiff, who had been committed to a psychiatric center, that defendants interfered with exercise of his faith as an Orthodox Jew practicing holostic medicine, including by medication injections and refusing to allow him to attend worship services.

In Meeks v. Sorsi, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140721 (D NV,Aug. 31, 2017), a Nevada federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that defendant refused to open cell doors and the activity room for early Ramadan prayer. Defendants argued that plaintiff had changed his religion from Muslim to Moorish Science Temple of America.

In Mares v. LePage, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140796 (D CO, Aug. 31, 2017), a Colorado federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing because of pleading defects an inmate’s complaint regarding impediments to his changing his religion to Judaism and receiving a kosher diet.

In Fletcher v. United States, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141932 (D AZ, Aug. 30, 2017), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a complaint by an inmate who was a member of the Asatru religion that his right to a religious fast and to use ceremonial grounds were impeded.

In Washington v. Gilmore, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142055 (WD PA, Aug. 31, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claims of denial of access to religious literature.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 28, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In West v. Palmer, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131109 (ND IA, Aug. 17, 2017), an Iowa federal district court dismissed a suit by a high security inmate at the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders who complained that the facility does not offer Pentecostal religious services and he is not allowed to attend services outside the facility.

In Anderson v. Cox, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131202 (D NV, Aug. 17, 2017), a Nevada federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Wiccan inmate’s complaint that Wiccans are denied access to incense, herbs and teas, and that a ritual area used by Wiccans was destroyed.  He recommended that plaintiff be allowed to move ahead with his claim of retaliatory cell searches because of his religion.

In Brisman v. Quinn, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131523 (ND NY, Aug. 16, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claim that a package containing religious beads was not delivered to him.

In Ludwick v. Rubenstein, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130501 (ND WV, Aug. 16, 2017), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131620, July 14, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint about removal of religious items from his cell when inmates are on strip cell search.

In Thompson v. Mississippi Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132387 (ND MI, Aug. 17, 2017), a Mississippi federal district court granted a Rastafarian inmate who had been forced to cut his hair an injunction requiring authorities to allow him to grow his hair according to the tenets of his religion.

In Ahdom v. Etchebehere, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133380 (ED CA, Aug. 20, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that as a vegetarian he was not enrolled in the Religious Meat Alternative program, and that made him ineligible to participate in Ramadan meals (until he was ultimately granted an exception).

In Murray v. McKay, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133566 (ED CA, Aug. 18, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that as a high security inmate with medical issues he was not allowed to attend any church services.

In Fletcher v. Bokinstrke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133747 (D SC, Aug. 18, 2017), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134081, July 14, 2017) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on one day during Ramadan, because of a security lock down, he was not served his evening meal until 11:00 pm.

In Hansler v. Kelley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133096 (WD AR, Aug. 21, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134103, July 20, 2017), and allowed an inmate to move ahead with a number of his claims growing out of the ban on his possessing or reading the Witches’ Craft Wiccan Bible and the Book of Grimoires.

In Fisher v. Devore, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136552 (WD AR, Aug.23, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135189, July 26, 2017) and dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that the kosher meals he was served were not prepared in a way that properly adhered to religious dietary laws.

UPDATE: In a settlement agreement in Bartlett v. Atencio, (D ID, Aug. 11, 2017), Idaho prisons must offer a Common Fare No Touch menu with a majority of meals that are pre-packaged or double-sealed frozen meals that are kosher
certified.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 22, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Chaparro v. Ducart, (9th Cir., Aug. 14, 2017), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was removed from the chapel ducat list for failing to attend a chapel service.

In Rush v. Malin, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126529 (SD NY, Aug. 9, 2017), a New York federal district court reinstated a claim against a prison chaplain for failing to submit the Eid ul-Fitr event packet for the Shi’a Muslim inmates in 2014.

In Robinson v. Cate, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126557 (ED CA, Aug. 8, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing as moot a Muslim inmate’s religious diet claims because recent changes in regulations now allow him to opt for either a kosher of Halal-compliant diet.

In Thomas v. Bzoskie, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129512 (D MN, Aug. 14, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130019, May 8, 2017) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that authorities refused to permit Muslim communal worship and refused to allow him to wear a kufi or keep a prayer rug or prayer oil in his cell.

In Rivera v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128973 (WD MI, Aug. 14, 2017), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129768, July 13, 2017) and dismissed complaints by an inmate over refusal to allow mail from Moorish Science Temple of America-1928 Grand Body, and telling plaintiff to tear up his religious preference form listing that group.

In Dyson v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130184 (D DC. Au. 15, 2017), a D.C. federal district court dismissed as no properly the subject of a habeas corpus action an inmate’s complaint that he was forced to consume fluids and provide a urine sample while he was fasting for Ramadan.

In Carter v. Myers, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130286 (D SC, Aug. 15, 2017), a South Carolina federal district court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with her claim for nominal damages and injunctive relief growing out of jail authorities requiring her to remove her hijab for her booking photo. The magistrate’s recommendation in the case is at 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130581, July 5, 2017.

In Tanksley v. Litscher, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130340 (WD WI, Aug. 15, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court in a lengthy opinion upheld prison officials’ refusal to allow an inmate serving a long sentence for sexual assault of a child to obtain Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn  Initiatory Tarot cards because some of the cards depict nude human figures.

In Irvin v. James, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130810 (ED CA, Aug. 15, 2017) a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a list of claims by a Muslim inmate relating to denial of chapel access, denial of religious foods (including dates), denial of prayer oil, kufis and religious packages, and failure to hire a Muslim chaplain.

In Bynum v. Poole, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131063 (MD NC, Aug. 17, 2017), a North Carolina federal magistrate judge recommended denying summary judgment to a Muslim inmate who complained about cancellation of a Jumah Service on one Friday.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 14, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Hoever v. Belleis, (11th Cir., Aug. 10, 2017), the 11th Circuit held that denial of an English language Bible and devotional materials to an inmate for 20 days while in disciplinary confinement did not impose a substantial burden on his religious exercise.

In Harris v. Holmes, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124062 (D NJ, Aug. 7, 2017), a New Jersey federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction against a prison’s new policy on purchase of religious oils.

In Dunn v. Todd, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124302 (ND NY, July 10, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he was unable to contact his pastor and family.

In Keaton v. Ponte, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124303 (SD NY, Aug. 4, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint about strip searches in the chapel area.

In Shields v. Ahern, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125424 (ND CA, Aug. 8, 2017), a California federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints regarding halal meals, hiring of a Muslim chaplain, group prayer and study, religious items and books, and receiving packages from an Islamic vendor.

In Buckley v. County of San Mateo, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125420 (ND CA, Aug. 8, 2017), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a former inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed because Kosher meals provided were not actually Kosher and he was not allowed to wear certain religious items outside of his cell.

In Zapata v. Ducart, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125453 (ND CA, Aug. 8, 2017), a California federal district court allowed a Messianic Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to participate in the kosher diet program.

In Ali v. Romero, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125696 (D MD, Aug. 7, 2017), a Maryland federal district court refused to dismiss at least until the prison chaplains had been served an inmate’s complaint over the lack of Islamic prayer services.

In Holmes v. Engleson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126228 (ND IL, Aug. 9, 2017), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that his dreadlocks and beard were removed forcibly.

In Simmons v. Williams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126294 (SD GA, Aug. 9, 2017), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move ahead with his action for injunctive relief (but not his damage claims) under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA for being dragged through a commons area wearing wet boxer shorts, which violated his religious beliefs that he must keep his awrah covered in the presence of others.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 7, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Henry v. Bright, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119374 (D SC, July 31, 2017), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119701, July 11, 2017) and dismissed a complaint that prison policies do not permit Buddhist inmates to use scented oils.

In Roberts v. Perry, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120621 (WD NC, Aug. 1, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court upheld a prison’s refusal to recognize “Nation of Israel” (a white-supremacist group) as an approved religion and the concomitant limit on the number of religious texts that an adherent can possess.

In Evans v. Bilal, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121795 (ND IL, Aug. 2, 2017) an Illinois federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to participate in religious services with other Muslim inmates.

In Butler v. California Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122724 (ND CA, Aug. 3, 2017), a California federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his attempt to obtain showing of a Nation of Islam video and obtaining a NOI chaplain.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 31, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ware v. Louisiana Department of Corrections, (5th Cir., July 28, 2017), the 5th Circuit held that prison grooming restrictions which prevent a Rastafarian inmate from wearing dreadlocks violate RLUIPA.

In Johnson v. Roskosci, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116243 (MD PA, July 24, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his religious tribal cultural beads were confiscated as contraband.

In Evans v. Brown, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117108 (ND CA, July 26, 2017), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he has not been allowed to participate in the Ramadan meal program.

In Muhammad v. Ponce, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117275 (CD CA, July 26, 2017), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint seeking an injunction that would allow him to observe Saviour’s Day each year with a commemorative fast followed by a ceremonial meal.

In Bailey v. Batista, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118035 (D MT, July 27, 2017), a Montana federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied vegetarian meals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 24, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Barnes v. Annucci, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110564 (ND NY, July 14, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Nation of Islam inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that during a cell search, authorities confiscated and discarded three of his kufis.

In Oppenheimer v State of New York, 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5709 (NY App, July 20, 2017), a New York state appeals court held that a Muslim inmate’s free exercise claim growing out of a pat frisk by a female corrections officer cannot be asserted in the state Court of Claims.

In Potts v. Holt, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113250 (MD PA, July 19, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by an inmate complaining about a 4-day interruption of religious meals while prison officials were dealing with a food poisoning outbreak.

In Alster v. Fischer, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113348 (W NY, July 20, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed some claims by a Jewish inmate for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and on other grounds, but permitted him to move ahead with claims of denial of communal celebrations for Sabbaths and holy days; his exclusion from Jewish group events; and lack of Jewish worship space.

In Kindred v. Bell, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114195 (ED CA, July 20, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended denying a preliminary injunction to a Native American civil detainee who complained about failure to deliver to him a package containing religious items and about confiscation of a bolo tie.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 17, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In In re Ohio Execution Protocol Litigation, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107468 (SD OH, July 12, 2017), an Ohio federal magistrate judge rejected RLUIPA and free exercise challenges to the provision in Ohio’s Execution Protocol that allows the warden to limit a death row inmate’s last words statement if it contains language intentionally offensive to the execution witnesses. Plaintiffs claimed that this might limit them from including a prayer for atonement in their last words because witnesses might find the prayer offensive.

In Crawley v. Parsons, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107775, (WD VA, July 12, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a House of Yahweh inmate to move ahead with his claim against the prison chaplain that he was not allowed to participate in the 2015 Passover observance. His claims against other defendants for this, and his claims regarding observance of the Feast of Tabernacles were dismissed.

In Crutcher v. Bolling, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106778, (ND AL, July 11, 2017), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107832, May 18, 2017), and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that conditions of solitary confinement denied him access to church.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 10, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Simmons v. Atkins, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103707 (ED CA, July 5, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Native American inmate that he is denied weekly attendance at the sweat lodge, a properly trained medicine man or spiritual adviser, and material to make religious tools and artifacts.

In Saif’ullah v. Albritton, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102438 (ND CA, June 30, 2017), a California federal court dismissed claims of ten of the 11 plaintiffs for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The remaining plaintiff was permitted to move ahead on his complaint that Muslim inmates are only allowed to pray in groups of more than 5 in the open day room once per day, while similar restrictions are not applied to Christian and Jewish inmates.

In Monson v. Steward, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104036 (D OR, July 6, 2017), an Oregon federal magistrate judge dismissed a suit by a Rastafarian inmate who complained that he was (until filing the lawsuit) denied a kosher diet.

In Hosannah v. Nassau County Criminal Supreme Court Sergeant Officer(s), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104652 (ED NY, July 5, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to file an amended complaint against proper defendants asserting his claim that he is not allowed to attend Jewish religious services because of his escape risk status.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 3, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Rials v. Avalos, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97650 (ND CA, June 23, 2017), a California federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with free exercise and equal protection challenges to disciplinary action taken against him for possessing two religious photos outside of his cell.

In Nordgaarden v. Baca, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97763 (D NV, June 23, 2017), a Nevada federal magistrate judge recommended refusing to dismiss a claim by a Jewish inmate that an officer threatened to throw him in the hole, confiscated his meal and placed him in a holding cell because he was leaving the culinary to eat his Passover meal, which he contends is religiously required.

In Nance v. Miser, (9th Cir., June 29, 2017), the 9th Circuit held that a ban on a Muslim inmate’s purchasing scented oils for use in weekly prayers substantially burdens his exercise of religion. and is not justified under RLUIPA. It remanded for further proceedings a claim regarding beard length.

In Medina v. Kuykendall, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98980 (ED PA, June 27, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed with leave to amend in inmate’s complaint that the County Prison denied him religious materials and kosher and halal meals.

In McCann v. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99400 (SD TX, June 27, 2017), a Texas federal district court dismissed a habeas corpus petition in which plaintiff challenged his conviction for giving false identifying information to the police, alleging that it violates his free exercise rights to require him to list his birth date as the date of delivery rather than the date of conception.

In Boyd v. Etchebehere, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99467 (ED CA, June 27, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by a Muslim inmate that he was denied participation in the Ramadan meal schedule for a week during which he was enrolled in the vegetarian diet rather than the Religious Meat Alternative Program.

In Docherty v. Cape May County, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100709 (D NJ, June 29, 2017), a New Jersey federal district court allowed Muslim inmates to move ahead against governmental defendants with their complaint that they are allowed to congregate for Friday prayers only in an area which is dirty and foul smelling.

In Rush v. Malin, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101285 (SD NY, June 29, 2017), a New York federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with claims that Shi’a Muslims were denied Jumu’ah services for 2 months, a separate Ashura observance, and weekly classes, a separate account, and a fundraiser. The court dismissed certain other claims.

In Taft v. California Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101467 (ED CA, June 28, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he was forced to remove his yarmulke without a security search protocol and that a correctional officer displayed anti-Semitic behavior toward him.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 26, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ghailani v. Sessions, (10th Cir., June 21, 2017), the 10th Circuit allowed a Muslim inmate in federal prison after a terrorism conviction to move ahead with his complaint under RFRA that he is prohibited from attending Jumu’ah prayers because of the prison’s housing conditions.

In Brandon v. Royce, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94870 (S NY, June 20, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his 1st Amendment claim growing out of the denial to him of the prison’s special Eid al-Adha meal.

In Ross v. LNU Director, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95232 (D KA, June 21, 2017), a Kansas federal district court denied a motion to reconsider the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint of delay in responding to his requests for Ramadan meal accommodations.

In Shabazz v. Giurbino, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95949 (ED CA, June 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing on qualified immunity and mootness grounds an inmate’s suit complaining that serving Muslim inmates vegetarian breakfasts and lunches does not meet his religious dietary requirements.

In Carter v. Uhlik, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95964 (ED CA, June 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended denying an inmate’s motion to rescind a settlement agreement in his free exercise case. Plaintiff complained of a subsequent unrelated delay in accommodating his religious dietary needs.

In Padilla v. Kernan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95993 (SD CA, June 20, 2017), a California federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his suit complaining of denial of kosher meals for more than a year.

In Njos v. Carney, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96533 (MD PA, June 21, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing on qualified immunity and mootness grounds a Jewish inmate’s suit over the number of ounces of grape juice he needed for his Sabbath meal religious observance.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 19, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

 

In Barner v. Pientka, 2017 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 422 (Commw. Ct. PA, June 12, 2017), a Pennsylvania appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a suit for damages by a Rastafarian inmate who was required to cut his hair.

In Hoffman v. Lassen Adult Detention Facility, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90083 (ED CA, June 12, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Jewish inmate be allowed to proceed with his 1st Amendment complaint that a jail commander denied his request for a kosher diet. On internal review the kosher diet was approved. Various other claims were recommended for dismissal.

In McElroy v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91185 (WD VA, June 14, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint over his suspension from, and refusal of reinstatement to, the Common fare diet.

In Ervin v. Davis, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91433 (SD OH, June 14, 2017), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by a Messianic Jewish inmate complaining of initial denial of kosher meal accommodation.

In Harris v. Cooper, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91637 (ND CA, June 14, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that he was denied parole because he is a Muslim, and that religious items were confiscated from his cell. Plaintiff’s initial parole grant was rescinded by the governor, and after a successful habeas petition his parole was again suspended.

In Cooley v. LeBlanc, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90733 (WD LA, June 13, 2017, a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91670, April 24, 2017) and dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s challenge to grooming regulations that require all male inmates to receive a closely cropped haircut.

In Smith v. Goss, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91675 (ED CA, June 14, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a series of complaints by an inmate, including that he was retaliated against by denial of his religious meals.

In Epp v. Frakes, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92236 (D NE, June 15, 2017), a Nebraska federal district court allowed a Buddhist inmate to move ahead on his claim for prospective relief growing out of his complaint that his religious diet has been suspended as a disciplinary measure at least 4 times and he is not permitted to obtain food items from outside sources.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 12, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

 

In Kerry X v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, (3d Cir., June 6, 2017), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a suit by an inmate who practices a form of Islam known as Muhammad’sTemple of Islam who contended that he could not observe certain holy days.

In Bush v. Lackawanna County Prison, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87494 (MD PA, June 7, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed for failure to prosecute a former inmate’s commplaint that he had been unable to practice his Nation of Islam religion.

In Gadbury v. California, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88422 (ED CA, June 7, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s free exercise complaint that his vegetarian diet sometimes included fish or eggs.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 5, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ruffin v. Hinkley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81827 (D ME, May 30, 2017), a Maine federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was served pork on 3 occasions be dismissed but that he be allowed to move ahead with his claim that he was denied various religious material and items while Christian inmates receive religious services.

In Johnson v. Doty, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82179 (SD NY, May 19, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to file an amended complaint a suit by a Muslim inmate seeking $1 million in damages and injunctive relief growing out of plaintiff effectively being denied the ability to attend Eid-ul-Adha services in 2014. Plaintiff contended that he suffers from mental anguish, trauma and nightmares of going to hell for missing the observance. The court concluded plaintiff had not alleged personal involvement by any of the named defendants.

In Jackson v. Collins, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82793 (WD MO, May 31, 2017), a Missouri federal district court in rejecting motions to reconsider prior orders held that neither RLUIPA nor the Establishment Clause were violated by the failure of prison authorities to have “Atheism” listed among the choices of religious preference gathered at intake on an inmate’s face sheet. “No Religious Preference,” “Unknown,” and “Other” are among the choices available.

In Adams v. Williams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81926 (ED AR, May 30, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83026, April 12, 2017) and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’ suit that merely alleged that he was forcefully denied his religion as a form of punishment.

In Stevens v. Cain, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83889 (MD LA, June 1, 2017), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84013, May 23, 2017), and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a TB test was forcibly administered after he refused for religious reasons to have the test performed.

In Vincent v. Stewart, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83522 (WD WA, May 31, 2017), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84167, April 17, 2017) and dismissed a suit by a Hare Krishna inmate who sought modification of the Vegetarian Religious Diet to, among other things, add a pint of fresh milk daily which his personal religious beliefs required.

In Carr v. Jackson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84442 (ND GA, June 1, 2017), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84444, June 1, 2017) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he never received responses to his requests for Halal or Kosher meals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 29, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Debarr v. Clark, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76941 (D NV, May 19, 2017), a Nevada federal magistrate judge recommended that a Pagan inmatebe allowed o move ahead with his complaint that he was denied access to any outdoor area for the practice of his faith and that while in disciplinary segregation he could not participate in any Solstice holiday ceremonies.

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77609 (D HI, May 22, 2017), an Hawaii federal district court gave final approval to the settlement in a class action by Native Hawaiian inmates who complained that they were denied access to religious items and to a spiritual advisor and group religious activities.

In Todd v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79852 (ED CA, May 23, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing on qualified immunity grounds religious exercise complaints by inmates who were members of the “Ecclesia Creatoris” religious organization which promotes the Creativity religion.  It was reasonable for officials to conclude that Creativity is not a “religion” for 1st Amendment purposes.

In Merrick v. Penzone, 2017 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 625 (AZ App., May 23, 2017), the Arizona Court of appeals affirmed dismissal of a suit by an inmate who is a member of the Fundamental American Christian Temple who was denied unmonitored, unrecorded telephone calls with his brother who was a church elder.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 22, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ashley-Drake v. Russell, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73984 (D NJ, May 16, 2017), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was prohibited from attending group religious services while in disciplinary detention.

In Brooks v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74369 (D AZ, May 15, 2017), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to participate in the Ramadan fast when staff should have known he wished to participate.

In Al-Bukhari v. Department of Correction, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74939 (D CT, May 17, 2017), a Connecticut federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA were infringed when he was denied his Qur’an and other religious books.

In Sears v. Thomas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75375 (SD FL, May 15, 2017), a Florida federal district court, rejecting a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56953, April 12, 2017), allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that a chain and crucifix he possessed were improperly seized because he had prior authorization for them.

In Little v. Guice, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76593 (WD NC, May 19, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed, for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, an inmate’s claim that he was disciplined for being a gang member because of his identification as “Moorish American.”

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 15, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jones v. Johnson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69634 (D CT, May 8, 2017), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied congregate religious services while confined in the Administrative Segregation Program.

In Greenhill v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70937 (WD VA, May 10, 2017), a Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71291, March 20, 2017) and denied a preliminary injunction to a Muslim inmate who complained that he was precluded from observing weekly Jum’ah services because inmates in segregation can watch a tape of such services only if they purchase their own television set.

In Kitchen v. Leach, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71144 (WD MI, May 10, 2017), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s claim that a vegan diet imposes a substantial burden on his religious beliefs and his complaint that his meal trays were marked kosher.  However it allowed him to move ahead with his claim that the vegan menu causes him gastrointestinal distress that interferes with his religious practices.

In Bishop v. Mohave Mental Health Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71368 (D AZ, May 10, 2017), an Arizona federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend plaintiff complained that he was not allowed to attend religious services on March 24, 2013, without prior permission from his probation officer.

In Griffin v. Lopez, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72315 (ED CA, May 11, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied religious meals on one day during Ramadan, and that defendant has a custom of denying Ramadan meals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 8, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Myrick v. Torres, 2017 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 310 (Commonwealth Ct. PA, May 1, 2017), a Pennsylvania appeals court affirmed the dismissal with leave to amend by the trial court of an inmate’s complaint that the number of choir practices for Seventh Day Adventist were reduced and that the Chaplain Program Director favored Latin music and services and replaced Christian ushers with Latin ushers.

In Chichakli v. Cheatham, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66746 (SD FL, May 1, 2017), a Florida federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his 1st Amendment (but not his RLUIPA) claim growing out of alleged denial of access to his prayer book, Bible, and Tefillin.

In Mitchell v. Robicheaux, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66826 (ED CA, May 1, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended revoking plaintiff’s in forma pauperis status under the “3 strikes” provision in a suit alleging failure to provide plaintiff meals consistent with the religion of Islam.

In Vaughn v. Wegman, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66839 (ED CA, May 1, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied kosher meals and access to Jewish religious services.

In Sessing v. Sherman, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67626 (ED CA, May 3, 2017), a California federal district court terminated an inmate’s suit which challenged a now-discontinued policy that prohibited the construction of new worship grounds at his Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, preventing him from exercising his outdoor, fire-centric Odinist religion.

In Gordon v. Sniff, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67753 (CD CA, May 2, 2017), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67757, April 28, 2017), and allowed an inmate to move ahead with most of his claims alleging that Muslim inmates were denied all religious services, while services were provided for all other religious beliefs.

In Brinkman v. Ryan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68293 (D AZ, May 3, 2017), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Wiccan inmate’s complaint that his religious practices were not accommodated.

In Wolcott v. Board of Rabbis of Northern & Southern California, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68435 (ED CA, May 3, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by an inmate seeking to convert to Judaism that he is unable to obtain Tefillin and Tzittzit.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 1, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jackson v. Sullivan,(9th Cir., April 12, 2017), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s RLUIPA complaint regarding restrictions on the wearing of dreadlocks.

In Clark v. Dodd, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62589 (MD TN, April 25, 2017), a Tennessee federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not delivered his package that contained a prayer rug, prayer cap, Quran and prayer oil.

In State Department of Corrections v. Todd, 2017 Tenn. App. LEXIS 223 (March 31, 2017), a Tennessee appellate court rejected an inmate’s argument that his religious freedom rights were violated when authorities appointed a limited medical conservatorship to consent to forcible treatment with psychotropic drugs.

In Grant v. Scalia, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56242 (ED CA, April 12, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend ad Muslim inmate’s complaint that rules requiring cell windows to be uncovered at all times interfered with his religious belief that he cannot appear naked in front of other men.

In Ross v. Director Butler County Detention Center, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55976 (D KA, April 10, 2017), a Kansas federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that authorities denied his request for a special Muslim diet during most of Ramadan, and deprived him of the right to group prayer during Ramadan.

In Burns v. Buncich, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55590 (ND IN, April 11, 2017), an Indiana federal district court held that material issues of fact an credibility that can only be resolved by a jury remain as to a Jehovah’s Witness inmate’s claims that authorities discriminated against Jehovah’s Witnesses in access to the chapel for group worship and in his ability to consult with ministers.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 24, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jenkins v. Campose, (9th Cir., April 21, 2017), the 9th Circuit, reversing the ditrict court in part, held that defendants failed to show that a prohibition on wudhu in one of the prison restrooms is rationally related to a legitimate and neutral governmental objective.

In Nevels v. Chapman, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59530 (ED AR, April 19, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate ‘s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59620, March 28, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion his lunch tray contained pork which he will not eat for religious reasons

In Goddard v. Alexakos, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57951 (ED KY, April 17, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that authorities do not permit The Way (a non-Protestant Christian group) to hold separate worship services.

In Wright v. Hauffman, 2017 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 285 (PA Commw., April 21, 2017), a Pennsylvania appellate court reversed the dismissal of an inmate’s claim that Nation of Islam group religious services were not available.

In Hill v. Skrah, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57279 (D OR, April 11, 2017), an Oregon federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57430, March 14, 2017) and dismissed on qualified immunity grounds an inmate’s complaint that he was not given kosher meals.

In Smith v. Wildermuth, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57318 (ND NY, April 14, 2017), a New York federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his retaliation claim (but not his free exercise claim) stemming from his refusal to interrupt his prayer to respond to a corrections officer.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 10, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Matzke v. Heyns, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44880 (WD MI, March 28, 2017), a Michigan federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendation and held that authorities are entitled to qualified immunity as to claims by a Wiccan inmate for additional group meetings to celebrate the thirteen lunar Esbats.

In Reed v. Bryant, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45013  (WD OK, March 28, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45715, Feb. 6, 2017), and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not provided his religious Kosher diet on one occasion and was removed from the Kosher diet for a violation of rules.

In Fernandez-Torres v. Watts, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46841 (SD GA, March 29, 2017), a Georgia federal district court supplemented and adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48167, Jan. 30, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to obtain Santeria bead necklaces from outside sources rather than through the prison’s approved vendor catalog.

In Munt v. Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47991 (D MN, March 29, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court, adopting in part a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48082, Jan. 27, 2017), denied preliminary relief to a Christian inmate who objected on religious grounds to rules that prevent him from hanging a privacy sheet in his cell.

In Sterling v. Sellers, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48700 (MD GA, March 31, 2017), a Georgia federal district court, rejecting parts of a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49095, Feb. 28, 2017), allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with various claims as to denial of congregational prayer, inability to celebrate the Eid, and retaliation.

In Horacek v. Heyns, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48778 (WD MI, March 31, 2017), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his claim that his religious beliefs require that he eat meat or fish on Saturdays and holy days.  In deciding this, the court held that RLUIPA applies even though the prison’s food service program did not separately receive federal financial assistance; it is enough that the Department of Corrections does.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 5, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Bedison, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42553 (ND TX, March 23, 2017), a Texas federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42629, March 3, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that no separate services are held for Moorish Science Temple of America members.

In Chichakli v. Cheatham, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43408 (SD FL, March 22, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that an officer insulted his Jewish faith, and that he was denied access to his prayer book, bible and tefillin for 42 days while he was in segregated detention.

In Moir v. Amdahl, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43462 (SD IL, March 24, 2017), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate who was a member of the Al-Islam faith to move ahead with a claim that on two occasions he was prevented from attending Jumah services and was targeted for harassment because of his race and religion.

In Kugler v. Rao, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44044 (CD IL, March 24, 2017), an Illinois federal district court rejected religious objections to taking psychtropic drugs raised by a civilly committed inmate, finding that forcible administration did not violate his rights under RLUIPA. Plaintiff was a Satanist who followed the Ninth Enochian Key.

In Seagraves v. Treachler, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44210 (D NJ, March 27, 2017), a New Jersey federal district court permitted an inmate to file an amended complaint charging the warden with denying Muslim inmates’ requests for vegetarian meals.

In Koch v. Carlisle, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43141 (WD OK, March 24, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44531, March 2, 2017) and allowed a Satanist inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied the right to celebrate the Festival of the Winter Solstice on the proper date.

More recent prisoner Free Exercise cases – April 3, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brooks v. Walsh, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40484 (D NV, March 20, 2017), a Nevada federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when authorities refused to correct a mistaken designation of his chosen religion, which led to him being denied a kosher diet and participation in Hebrew-Israelite religious services.

In Higgins v. Rodriguez, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40700 (ED CA, March 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by a Muslim inmate who alleged that his halal food tray at various times had missing or incomplete food items.

In Harrell v. California Forensic Medical Group, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40819 (ED CA, March 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claim that denial of treatment for Hepatitis with a new drug violated his free exercise rights and his right to procreate because he cannot have a child without giving that child Hepatitis.

In Becker v. Reddish, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41163 (MD FL, March 22, 2017), a Florida federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that prison officials confiscated his prayer shawl, tulasi bead necklace, and krsna pendant.

In Bayadi v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41244 (WD VA, March 22, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to continue with his complaint that pork-free Common Fare meal trays are not kept properly separated from meal trays containing pork products.

In Al-Azim v. Everett, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41570 (ED VA, March 22, 2017), a Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41716, March 3, 2017) and dismissed two inmates’ suit complaining that they did not receive a diet consistent with Nation of Islam beliefs.

In Russell v. Pallito, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42009 (D VT, March 23, 2017), a Vermont federal district court, rejecting a magistrate’s contrary conclusion (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185274, Aug. 9, 2016), interpreted 42 USC 1997e(e) as allowing an inmate to recover damages for violation of his Free Exercise rights even though he did not suffer any physical injury.  At issue was prison policy to provide Muslim inmates kosher meals instead of halal meals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 3, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Orwig v. Chapdelane, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38875 (D CO, March 17, 2017), a Colorado federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with some of his claims complaining he was prohibited from carrying his pocket Bible outside of his POD (other to and from religious services), thus compelling him to give up his prison work and incur punishment for doing so. The magistrate’s recommendation is at 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38874, Feb. 16, 2017.

In Christian Separatist Church Society v. Mohr, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38902 (SD OH, March 17, 2017), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38901, Jan. 30, 2017) and allowed an inmate to proceed with his RLUIPA complaint that members of the Christian Separatist Church are not permitted to conduct their own communal worship services separate from other Protestant services.

In Staples v. New Hampshire State Prison, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39615 (D NH, March 17, 2017), a New Hampshire federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Taoist inmate that he was penalized for not complying with the prison’s beard policy and was denied access to Taoist resources.

In Strickland v. Godinez, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39707 (SD IL, March 20, 2017), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a complaint by an inmate who practices  Asatru/ Odinism that he was denied various religious items, celebration of religious holidays and group services.

In Leshowitz v. Collins, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39877 (WD WA, March 20, 2017), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39885, Feb. 10, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his Bible calendar was thrown away.

In Avery v. Beard, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39895 (SD CA, March 20, 2017), a California federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint about the lack of a separate outdoor spiritual area for practitioners of the Wiccan and Odinist/Asatru religions.  The court also granted a 90 stay so plaintiff could exhaust administrative remedies on his complaint that Wiccans should have access to a sweat lodge.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 29, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Blankenship v. Setzer, (4th Cir., March 16, 2017), the 4th Circuit held that a Christian inmate adequately alleged RLUIPA and 1st Amendment claims when he objected to the refusal by authorities to allow him to bring his Bible with him on the transport van on several trips from his confinement facility to the county jail.

In Fonseca v. Spearman, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33245 (ED CA, March 8, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Jewish inmate’s complaint that his request to change his name for religious reasons was refused.

In Clover v. Smith, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34248 (SD IN, March 10, 2017), an Indiana federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a Muslim inmate’s complaint over a change in time for Muslim Friday Jummah prayer services.

In Diaz v. Kessler, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34936 (ND CA, March 10, 2017), a California federal district court, denying summary judgment, concluded that a genuine dispute remained as to whether an inmate’s removal from Jewish religious services was for a legitimate penological reason.

In White v. York, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35526 (ND NY, March 10, 2017), a NewYork federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that he was not receiving a religious diet that included unprocessed meats.

In Jones v. Malin, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35599 (SD NY, March 13, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was prevented from attending separate Shi’a Jumu’ah prayer services. Three other claims of interference with his religious practice were dismissed.

The entries below are from the weekly postings of “Prisoner Free Exercise Cases” on
the Religion Clause blog of Professor Howard Friedman 

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 17, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Givens v. Vaughn, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31366 (SD IL, March 6, 2017), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31374, Feb. 6, 2017) and dismissed a complaint by a Hebrew Israelite inmate over the method of preparing kosher meals, refusal of separate Hebrew Israelite Sabbath services, and inability to celebrate certain feasts.

In Jones-Bey v. Jefferson County Government, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31827 (WD KY, March 6, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a recently-released inmate to move ahead with his damage action for denying him permission to attend Islamic Services and denying him Halal meals.

In Munt v. Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32235 (D MN, March 6, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court ordered defendants to file a supplemental affidavit responding to a Christian inmate’s complaint that the lack of privacy in prison facilities (showers, toilets, etc.) violates his religious belief against exposing himself.

In Barrera-Avila v. Watts, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33116 (SD GA, March 8, 2017), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint regarding interference with the practice of his Santeria religion.

In Hoke v. Lyle, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32445 (SD GA, March 7, 2017), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed an inmate’s complaint over policies that resulted in his not receiving his packages containing a study Bible and bible study lessons.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 14, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Robinson v. Superintendent Houtzdale SCI, (3d Cir., March 6, 2017), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was unable to participate in the sex offender’s treatment program because it requires him to “confess” to a therapist, and as a Christian the Bible only permits him to confess to God.

In Adams v. Scott, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28966 (CD IL, March 1, 2017), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a complaint by several civilly committed individuals that their nondenominational Christian religious beliefs were not accommodated.

In Carawan v. McLarty, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29485 (ED NC, March 2, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when authorities confiscated his mail which contained postage stamps donated to him by Muslim inmates practicing zakat.

In Ayers v. Esgrow, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30124 (WD NY, March 1, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that a correctional officer vindictively seized his personal religious property, removed him from his religious clerk position and filed a falsified misbehavior report against him.

In Barros v. Wetzel, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30498 (MD PA, March 2, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that authorities refused to provide him with a medically prescribed therapeutic diet tray during the Ramadan fast.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 6, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Shehee v. Ahlin, (9th Cir., Feb. 27, 2017), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a civil detainee’s complaint regarding problems in connection with a requested religious diet.

In Sariaslan v. Rackley,(9th Cir., Feb. 28, 2017), the 9th Circuit held that the district court had overlooked a Muslim inmate’s allegations that he was blocked without good cause from receiving food that he purchased for Ramadan.

In Herbert v. Balducci, (9th Cir., March 1, 2017), the 9th Circuit affirmed dismissal of an inmate’s First Amendment claims related to the denial of Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book while in disciplinary segregation.

In Register v. Helder, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26006 (WD AR, Feb/ 24, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26909, Feb 2, 2017), and dismissed an inmate’s complaint regarding his desire to be baptized by a Jehovah’s Witness.

In Rolph v. Richardson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27534 (D MD, Feb. 28. 2017), a Maryland federal district court held that a Jewish inmate’s religoius rights were not violated when he was required to provide the name of his Rabbi and synagogue to be approved for a kosher diet.

In Cherry v. Corizon Health, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27654 (SD IN, Feb. 28, 2017), an Indiana federal district court rejected an inmate’s complaint that his rights were violated when he was forced to receive injections of antipsychotic medication because he was on a religious fast. The court found that he had not shown that refusing 20 consecutive meals, thereby endangering his health, was a practice of his religion.

In Jones v. West, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27880 (ED WI, Feb. 27, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court ruled that a Muslim inmate needed to file an amended complaint over a change in sign-up policy for Ramadan meals.

In Mueller v. Mesojedec, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27414 (D MN, Feb. 27, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28119, Jan. 6, 2017) and dismissed without prejudice claims by civilly committed sex offenders that their ability to practice their Asatru faith in various ways was impeded.

In Carawan v. Mitchell, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28832 (D NC, Feb. 28, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that prison authorities refused to set up a zakat fund so he could practice charity.

In Berger v. Burl, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27708 (ED AR, Feb. 28, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28760, Jan. 19, 2017), finding that questions of fact remain as to an inmate’s claims that allowing beards and long hair for religious but not secular reasons violated the Establishment Clause, and allowing long hair only for female inmates denied him equal protection.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 27, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Heyer v. U.S. Bureau of  Prisons, (4th Cir., Feb. 23, 2017), the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a deaf inmate to move ahead with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by failure to provide him a sign-language interpreter for religious services.

In Crowder v. Lariva, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23687 (SD IN, Feb. 21, 2017), an Indiana federal district court held that a prison chaplain who was sued by a Hebrew-Israelite inmate demonstrated that there is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether the denial of plaintiff’s requests for a kosher diet substantially burdened his right to practice his religion because he continued to purchase non-kosher items from the commissary.

In Pruitt v. Williams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25044 (ED AR, Feb. 23, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25468, Feb. 2, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that as a form of punishment he was denied the right to practice his religion.

In Ali v. Haese, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25431 (ED WI, Feb. 23, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed on his claim that he was denied participation in the 2016 Ramadan fast, but not due process and retaliation claims added in his amended complaint.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 20, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Scott v. Uhler, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18624 (ND NY, Feb. 8, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing the complaint of a number of Muslim inmates that their 1st and 14th Amendment rights were violated when they were not allowed to attend Jumm’ah services on Dec. 25, 2015.

In Taylor v. Kelley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18430 (ED AR, Feb. 9, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19094, Jan. 25, 2017) and dismissed a complaint by two Muslim inmates that on the last day of Ramadan their fast-breaking snack was delivered one hour late.

In Ilarraza v. Chuta, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20057 (MD PA, Feb. 10, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended that a now-released inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a Spanish-English interpreter so he could learn more about his Native American religion and attend religious services.

In France v. Brown, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20183 (SD CA, Feb. 13, 2017), a California federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his parole conditions that included entry into a residential treatment center subjected him to religious indoctrination and were inconsistent with his religion of “Here-and-Nowism.”

In Scott v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19835 (D SC, Feb. 13, 2017), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20572, Jan. 26, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint about the Department of Corrections’ refusal in the past to recognize Shetaut Neter as a religion.  The religion is currently recognized.

In Oliver v. Adams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21518 (D CA, Feb. 14, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint of refusals to accommodate his practice of his Shetaut Neter faith, including a Kemetic diet.

In Rountree v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21776 (WD VA, Feb. 16, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a female inmate’s complaint that she was not permitted to possess and use a yoga mat in her cell to practice yoga according to her Buddhist beliefs.

In Walters v. Livingston, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1323 (TX App, Feb. 15, 2017), a Texas state appeals court allowed a former inmate to move ahead with his claim for damages and declaratory relief on his complaint that he was denied the right to personally smoke a “sacred ceremonial pipe” during religious ceremonies.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 13, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Fluker v. King, (5th Cir., Feb. 9, 2017), the 5th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a suit by a Muslim inmate who complained that Muslim c-custody inmates could not attend Jumu’ah services outside of their unit while non-Muslim c-custody inmates could.

In Conway v. Alford, (8th Cir., Feb. 8, 2017), the 8th Circuit concluded that the mailroom’s withholding of publications from the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, classified as a security threat/ terrorist group, did not substantially burden an inmate’s religious exercise.

In Vasquez v. Rockland County, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14746 (SD NY, Jan. 31, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed a complaint by an inmate that he was prevented from observing Ramadan due to being placed on a suicide watch.

In Gilliam v. Baez, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15680 (SD NY, Feb. 2, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that on two occasions he was permitted to participate in Nation of Islam classes.

In Harris v. Norwood, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15979 (WD AR, Feb. 6, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16205, Jan. 12, 2017) and permitted an inmate to proceed with his complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when he, as a “pork free person”, was denied pork free meal trays.

In Ayoubi v. Dart, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16310 (ND IL, Jan. 31, 2017), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Muslim inmate who the court described as “an experienced pro se litigator.” Plaintiff objected to limits on his access to religious services, refusal of post-Ramadan-fast meal trays, denial of a Halal diet containing meat, and prohibition on his using a prayer rug and wearing a head garment.

In Young v. Hooks, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17115 (SD OH, Feb. 7, 2017), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that during a search of his cell his bottle of prayer oil was poured out.

In Edwards v. Thomas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17111 (MD PA, Feb. 6, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his free exercise challenge to the refusal of his request for a kosher diet, which would have met his Halal diet requirements.

In Branco v. Milligan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18094 (ND OH, Feb. 7, 2017), an Ohio federal district court dismissed a complaint by an inmate that on one occasion officials overlooked his housing unit when calling Muslim inmates down for a meal during Ramadan.

In Wallace v. Olivarria, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18148 (SD CA, Feb. 8, 2017), a California federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that a change in the schedule for his prison job violated his right to practice his religion.

In Martinez v. Richardson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18188 (ED TX, Feb. 8, 2017), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18515, Jan. 19, 2017) and dismissed a complaint by a Satanist inmate that he was not permitted to perform Satanic rituals or possess various items (e.g. parchment paper, candles, a robe, a bell, a wand, a chalice) needed to practice his religion.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 6, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Beamon v. Pollard, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12446 (ED WI, Jam. 30, 2017), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s challenge to the confiscation from his cell of materials believed to relate to Nation of Gods and Earths.

In Iceberg v. Martin, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12557 (WD WA, Jan. 27, 2017), a Washington federal district court dismissed a religious discrimination complaint by a Christian Science inmate who contended that he received no response to his request to obtain rehabilitation services without meeting with a psychologist because psychology and psychiatry are inconsistent with his religious beliefs.

In Leggett v. Solomon, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12958 (ED NC, Jan. 31, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a suit by a former inmate who complained that during Ramadan he was not provided a supplemental meal bag because he was on a special diet for medical reasons.

In Hines v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13173 (SD IL, Jan. 31, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with certain of his claims regarding denial of a halal diet when the lacto-ovo diet created health problems for him.

In Ali v. Drawbridge, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12039 (WD OK, Jan. 30, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183126, Dec. 22, 2016) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s claim that he was denied a halal diet for a one month period and his complaint that he was not allowed to possess the “Noble Quran” version of the Islamic scripture– (his copy was confiscated).

In Greybuffalo v. Litscher, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13691 (WD WI, Feb. 1, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Native American Church inmate’s complaint that his request for a separate sweat lodge ceremony conducted according to Church principles was denied.

In Hoffmann v. Growden, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14139 (ED CA, Jan. 31, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend plaintiff’s claim that during three days during which he was wrongly held in jail he was denied a religious diet.

In Collier v. Kernan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14141 (ED CA, Feb. 1, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s claim that denial of conjugal visits infringes his free exercise rights and his right to marry.

In Hall v. Klemm, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14767 (WD PA, Feb. 1, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended that plaintiff be granted summary judgement as to defendants’ liability for denying him a diet consistent with his Native American religious tradition, including his claim for compensatory damages.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 30, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wilson v. Wetzel, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9011 (MD PA, Jan. 23, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a claim by a Hebrew-Israelite inmate that he was wrongly denied kosher bag meals on the Fast of Gedaliah.

In Arnold v. Heyns, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8017 (ED MI, Jan. 20, 2017), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182603, Dec. 21, 2016) and dismissed an Orthodox Jewish inmate’s complaint that he was served a vegan diet rather than a kosher diet that included meat. However it allowed him to move ahead with his claim that the vegan meals were not kosher because of cross-contamination.

In Dayton v. Lisenbee, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9459 (ED MO, Jan. 24, 2017), a Missouri federal district court held that “while RLUIPA allows official-capacity claims against prison officials, it does not authorize monetary damages based on those claims.” However it allowed plaintiff to proceed on his individual-capacity constitutional claims for monetary relief.

In Husband v. Dougherty, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11609 (D AZ, Jan. 26, 2017), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate’s suit against two prison chaplains complaining that he was not granted a kosher diet during Passover, a daily kosher diet or a shaving waiver.

In Balcar v. Smith, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10899 (WD KY, Jan. 26, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court rejected an inmate’s complaint that he is not being served chicken and pork because these meats do not comply with a Muslim diet.  He claimed this violates the Establishment Clause, the equal protection clause and RLUIPA.

In Ha’Keem v. Mesojedec, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11321 (D MN, Jan. 25, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182928, Dec. 29, 2016) and dismissed with leave to amend a suit by Muslims civilly committed in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program who object to restrictions on their use of prayer oil and numerous other actions that burden their exercise of religion.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 23, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ali v. West, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6197 (ED WI, Jan. 17, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed against the prison chaplain, program director and warden on his claim that his request to be placed on the Ramadan participation list was initally ignored and then denied.

In Kemp v. Liebel, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8021 (SD IN, Jan. 20, 2017), an Indiana federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a suit by Jewish inmates against the Director of religious services alleging that their free exercise rights were infringed when for 9 months they were denied congregate religious services and study because no outside religious authority had been found to evaluate and certify inmates who could lead them.

In Luginbyhl v. Glanz, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8101 (ND OK, Jan. 20, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Hebrew Israelite inmate that he was denied a kosher diet and a seder plate and unleavened bread meals for Passover. Plaintiff had received a vegan religious diet.

In Fields v. Robinson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7946 (ED VA, Jan. 19, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint over the conditions imposed for receiving the Common Fare diet. He could not miss over 25% of his meals and could not give his food away to other inmates.

In Timmons v. Bradshaw, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8219 (SD FL, Jan. 19, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a kosher diet. He alleged that authorities applied a doctrinal knowledge test and required verification of his religion from a rabbi.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 16, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Aguilar v. Lemke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2526 (ND IL, Jan. 5, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that his placement in segregation in violation of his due process rights resulted in restrictions on his ability to practice his Roman Catholic religion.

In Garrett v. Stephens, (5th Cir., Jan 12, 2017), the 5th Circuit upheld dismissal of an inmate’s claim that confiscation of his property forced him to modify his daily religious practices.

In Sareini v. Burnett, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3083 (ED MI, Jan. 10, 2017), a Michigan federal district court held that the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Holt v. Hobbs is not a basis for reopening a court’s 2011 dismissal of an inmate’s religious items and holiday claims.

In Santos v. Holland, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3682 (ED CA, Jan. 10, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge, ruling on an inmate’s habeas corpus petition, recommended concluding that a state court was reasonable when it held that an inmate’s free exercise rights were not violated by using his religious necklace with the Eternal Warrior Shield as evidence of affiliation with the Mexican Mafia.

In Skandha v. Spencer, 2017 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 45 (MA App., Jan. 12, 2017), a Massachusetts state appeals court rejected an inmate’s claim that his religious rights were violated by the requirement that he sign a diet sheet in advance of receiving a vegan meal.

In Faulker v. Phillips, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181805 (SD CA, Dec. 2, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a kosher diet be dismissed on various grounds, with one narrow exception.

In Blair v. Thompson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5164 (WD KY, Jan. 13, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim of a conspiracy to interfere with the practice of his religion by stealing, moving, and destroying his religious materials.

In Venkataram v. Bureau of Prisons, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5418 (SD FL, Jan. 12, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended that a Hindu inmate be permitted to proceed with his claim seeking declaratory relief that his 1st Amendment and RLUIPA rights were infringed by the failure to provide him a vegetarian diet prepared and served in accordance with his religious beliefs.

In Gonzalez v. Rivera, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4612 (ED AR, Jan. 12, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181873, Dec. 16, 2016) and permitted an inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was not given meatless meals on Good Friday and that Catholic Easter services were not available even though they were proved to Protestant prisoners.

In Stein v. Mohr, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181896 (SD OH, Dec. 13, 2016), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181898, Dec. 6, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not placed on the list to attend the Asatru religious feast of Yule, that he was not allowed to make a copy of a religious poster, and that the chapel library had only 3 Asatru religious books and they were subsequently stolen.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 9, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Omran v. Prator, (5th Cir., Dec. 30, 2016), the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a suit by a Muslim inmate who was denied halal or kosher food.

In Quezada v. Cate, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179982 (ED CA, Dec. 28, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a House of Yahweh inmate be allowed to move forward only on his equal protection damage claim growing out of the suspension of his access to kosher meals.

In Vance v. Wright, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82 (D SC, Jan. 3, 2017), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180700, Nov. 29, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that he had been denied religious material.

In Hale v. Vannoy, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1866 (MD LA, Jan. 4, 2017), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181299, Dec. 16, 2016), and dismissed a claim by an inmate who is a follower of the Nation of Gods and Earths that his request for a religious vegetarian diet was refused.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 2, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Oliver v. Adams, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177694 (ED CA, Dec. 22, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with his suit for injunctive relief to the extent he claims systemic discrimination against Shetaut Neter throughout the California correctional system, but dismissed on various grounds other claims relating to past denials of a religious diet and other religious accommodations.

In Sirleaf v. Robinson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178028 (ED VA, Dec. 21, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s claims that he was denied religious feasts of his “Common Wealth of Israel” faith.

In Colliton v. Bunt, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178765 (SD NY, Dec. 27, 2016), a New York federal district court rejected a complaint that plaintiff’s probation conditions requiring attendance at treatment and involvement in the community interfere with his lifestyle of prayer.

In Stewart v. Richardson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178809 (SD NY, Dec. 27, 2016), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with some claims alleging that his religious material, including his bible and family-made items, were confiscated.

In Rials v. Avalos, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178827 (ND CA, Dec. 27, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by an inmate who was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America that a rules violation report placed in his file reduced his ability to practice his religion.

In France v. Allman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178843 (ND CA, Dec. 27, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint by an Odinist inmate that his request for religious meals was denied.

In Beaver v. Nevada, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179307 (D NV, Dec. 23, 2016), a Nevada federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint over denial of a diet based on his religious belief that he should not eat things with a conscience.

In Fields v. Paramo, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179423 (ED CA, Dec. 28, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that his request for a religious circumcision was denied.

In Floyd v. Williams, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179903 (SD GA, Dec. 29, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that because he was a Tier II inmate, he was not permitted to participate in a second Eid-ul-Fitr feast paid for by inmates, but limited to those in general population.

In Brown v. Ducart, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179948 (ND CA, Dec. 29, 2016), a California federal district court permitted an inmate who is a minister affiliated with the United Kings Against Genocidal Environments religious community to move ahead with his claim that his group’s religious material was confiscated and that he was told he could not assemble in the prison chapel until he changes his “religious ideology,” as well as the name of his group.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 26, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

 In Ali v. Eckstein, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175024 (ED WI, Dec. 19, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court ordered a Muslim inmate who sued over his inability to sign up to participate in Ramadan to file an amended complaint curing pleading deficiencies.

In Harvey v. Gonzalez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175793 (D CO, Dec. 20, 2016), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175796, Nov. 21, 2016) and dismissed as moot a Muslim inmate’s complaint about confiscation of his Qur’an and his inability to obtain a replacement.

In Carawan v. Mitchell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175858 (WD NC, Dec. 20, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was forced to choose between attending class to earn gain-time credits and attending Muslim worship services held at the same time.

In Husband v. Dougherty, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175890 (D AZ, Dec. 19, 2016), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his access to the grievance process was blocked because of his religion.

In Baines v. Hicks, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176116 (ED VA, Dec. 19, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding removal from the common fare diet and pressure to consume food from the common fare diet that did not meet his religious dietary requirements.

In Walters v. Livingston, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 13507 (TX App., Dec. 21, 2016), a Texas state appeals court held that a provision in the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act that bars a person filing suit if the burden on religious exercise has been cured does not allow the state to avoid liability by curing a burden once the suit has been filed. Here the suit was by a Native American inmate.

In Pigues v. Solano County Jail, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176910 (ED CA, Dec. 21, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of a suit by a Jehovah’s Witness inmate complaining that correctional officers confiscated two religious drawings they thought to be gang related.

In Villalobos v. Bosenko, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176924 (ED CA, Dec. 20, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint by an inmate who was a recent convert to Buddhism that he was denied a religiously compliant vegetarian diet that could have been served by combining elements of existing diets available to inmates.

In Stathum v. Nadrowski, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177492 (D NJ, Dec. 22, 2016), a New Jersey federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with his equal protection challenge, but not his free exercise challenge, to requiring him to accept vegetarian meals to satisfy his religious dietary needs instead of kosher meals that were available to Jewish inmates.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 19, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brooks v. Williams, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171453 (SD IL, Dec. 12, 2016), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with this complaint that he was denied access to Rastafari Sabbath services, but dismissed without prejudice has claim that he was denie access to a holy Piby religious text.

In Alamiin v. Patton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172044 (WD OK, Dec. 13, 2016), an Oklahoma federal district court while dismissing a number of claims allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim regarding an improper halal diet.

In Parkell v. Senato, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172419 (D DE, Dec. 13, 2016), a Delaware federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds the two-year delay in furnishing kosher meals to an inmate whose religious beliefs combined Judaism and Wicca.

In Davies v. Toole, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172978 (SD GA, Dec. 14, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge concluded that a Muslim inmate stated a colorable claim for injunctive relief and nominal damages for refusal to provide him a vegan diet. A preliminary injunction was denied.

In El-Shaddai v. Stainer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173755 (CD CA, Dec. 13, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed complaints seeking accommodations for a kosher diet, religious name change, Messianic Hebrew religious services and ritual herbal smoking blends by an inmate claiming to be a practitioner of various occult traditions including the Hermetic Order of Melchizedek.

In Bey v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation & Parole, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174301 (MD PA, Dec. 15, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate who is an adherent of Moorish Science Temple of America be allowed to move ahead on his Establishment Clause challenge to a Therapeutic Community program, alleging it has a religious component.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 12, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Pickering v. California Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167867 (ED CA, Dec. 5, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claims that defendants have hindered the practice of his Astru/Odinic faith. However the court recommended that plaintiff be allowed to proceed with his retaliation claim.

In Malone v. Selby, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168764 (SD IL, Dec. 6, 2016), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with a claim that a corrections official destroyed or discarded plaintiff’s Bible concordance.

In Lane v. Tavares, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168965 (MD PA, Dec. 7, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendation and allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with a claim that the prison doctor intentionally interfered with his attempt to gain safe access to Friday Prayers.

In Alderson v. Kelley, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168233 (ED AR, Dec. 6, 2016), and Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169173, Oct. 28, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his request to have a beard for religious reasons was previously denied.

In Willison v. Davis, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169241 (SD OH, Dec. 7, 2016), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit against the state Religious Services Administrator brought by an inmate who change his religion to Natsarim (Messianic Judaism) and was initially denied kosher meals and participation in the Passover feast.

In Quiero v. Muniz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170733 (MD PA, Dec. 8, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to proceed with his challenge to a policy that denied him access to bible studies, church services, and chaplains while in the restricted housing unit.

In Young v. Biter, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170992 (ED CA, Dec. 9, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint about his ability to practice his religion and denial of a kosher diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 5, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mikell v. Sibanda, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163345 (WD PA, Nov. 28, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he did not receive Ramadan meals in 2012 even though he was on the Ramadan list.

In Bizzell v. King County Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163639 (WD WA, Nov. 28, 2016), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163725, Oct. 24, 2016) and dismissed without prejudice for failing to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint that his request to attend Jum’ah services was denied, as was his request for a kufi and his request to be added to the Ramadan meal list. However the federal magistrate indicated that had plaintiff exhausted his remedies the court would have found the denials of Ramadan meals under an all or none policy and denial of a kufi to violate RLUIPA.

In Hamrick v. Baird, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164426 (SD IL, Nov. 29, 2016), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his claims that his free exercise, RFRA and equal protection rights were infringed by a policy that barred Muslim inmates from participating in group prayer or group religious activity.

In Salik v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166242 (SD IL, Dec. 1, 2016), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead against some of the defendants on his complaint that he was removed from the Ramadan meal list for refusing to attend chapel services; and that he was initially denied a halal diet and then was placed on a diet more restrictive that his religion required.

In Ferguson-El v. Horton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166244 (WD VA, Nov. 30, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was threatened with segregation for teaching Sovereign Citizen ideology as part of a meeting for Moorish Science Temple of America adherents.

In Bennett v. Burt, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166452 (WD MI, Dec. 2, 2016), a Michigan federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he lost 4 days work until he was transferred from a work assignment that would have required him to work on Saturday (his Sabbath) to another assignment.

In Winnett v. Bray, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166560 (ED AR, Dec. 2, 2106), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166666, Nov. 18, 2016) and allowed an inmate to move ahead on his complaint that he was denied Sabbath meals prepared in compliance with the requirements of his religion.

In Arendas v. Mesa County, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166732 (D CO, Nov. 29, 2016), a Colorado federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an action by an inmate seeking an injunction and $1 million in damages who contended the requirement that he wear an identification wrist band violates his Catholic religious belief that he may not wear a non-medically related unremovable item on his body.

In Etterson v. Newcome, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166986 (ED VA, Dec. 1, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was removed from the list for Ramadan meals after he was observed eating during the fast.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 28, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

InPorter v. Wegman, (9th Cir., Nov. 23, 2016), the 9th Circuit reversed a distrcit court’s summary judgment for defendant and remanded for trial an inmate’s complaint that he was wrongly switched from a kosher diet to a vegetarian diet and was denied dietary accommodations during multi-day Passover observances.

In Davilla v. Watts, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160966 (SD GA, Nov. 21, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended denying a preliminary injunction to a Santeria practitioner who sought additional ability to practice his religion.

In Sanford v. Madison County, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161906 (SD IL, Nov. 22, 2016). an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161904, Nov. 4, 2016) and allowed a Muslim inmate to file an amended complaint alleging that defendants imposed unconstitutional restrictions on his religious practices.

In White v. Wright, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161870 (ED WI, Nov. 22, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that jail authorities interfered with, and harassed him during, his prayers, and often denied him his vegan diet.

In Yah’Torah v. Hicks, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162315 (D NJ, Nov. 22, 2016), a New Jersey federal magistrate judge permitted an inmate to reinstate the head of the Religious Issues Committee as a defendant in his suit complaining that he was denied access to fragrant oils for religious purposes.

In Hauseur v. Clark, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162849 (ED CA, Nov. 22, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing amendments to assert claims under California’s Civil Code 51.7 and the Bane Act by an inmate who complained about the standards for kosher meals he received and about the failure to provide Jewish religious services on many occasions. The court dismissed plaintiff’s claim under the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

In Hedin v. Castillo, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162528 (D OR, Nov. 23, 2016), an Oregon federal district court adopted a magistrate’s findings (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163020, Sept. 27, 2016) and dismissed on various grounds claims by an inmate that changes had restricted his ability to practice his Asatru faith.

In Fletcher v. Kelly, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162443 (ED AR, Nov. 23, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163028, Oct. 28, 2016) and dismissed (for failure to exhaust administrative remedies against him) one of the defendants in a suit by a Cherokee Nation inmate who is seeking use of a sweat lodge and a number of other ceremonial items.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 21, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Sanchez v. Mitchell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157853 (D MA, Nov. 15, 2016), a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was removed from the kosher diet list because he had received 3 incident reports within 30 days.

In Demara v. Barker, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158191 (ED CA, Nov. 15, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Native American inmate’s complaint that authorities lost a religious package sent to him containing an engraved flute and ceremonial beads and instruments. This prevented him from attending flute ceremonies which caused him to be ostracized by his tribe.

In Kindred v. King, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158203 (ED CA, Nov. 15, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge, while dismissing a number of claims by a Native American civil detainee of interference with his religious practices, permitted plaintiff to move ahead with a claim that two of the defendants denied him spiritual or sacred items that do not implicate safety and security concerns.

In Sirleaf v. Wall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158256 (ED VA, Nov. 15, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint by an inmate who was “a member of the Common Wealth of Israel” that he was denied Ecumenical Pilgrim Feast, worship items and the right to celebrate the birthday and coronations of Emperor Haile Selaisse.

In Venkataram v. Bureau of Prisons, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158767 (SD FL, Nov. 15, 2016), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing with leave to amend a Hindu inmate’s complaint that he was denied vegetarian meals that conform to his religious beliefs.

In Amaker v. Fischer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158785 (WD NY, Nov. 16, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge allowed a Nation of Islam inmate to file an amended complaint alleging that a corrections officer prevented him from possessing his religious materials.

In Hearns v. Gonzales, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159016 (ED CA, Nov. 15, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge refused to allow an inmate to amend his complaint to add a claim that a corrections officer poured bleach over his prayer rug and then confiscated it in retaliation for his filing this lawsuit.

In Feiger v. Smith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159731 (ED CA, Nov. 16, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Jewish inmate’s claims under state law (Unruh Civil Rights Act and Bane Act) regarding problems with the kosher diet program and religious services, but rejected defendants’ immunity defense.

In Olodumare v. U.S. District Court, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160369 (SD FL, Nov. 17, 2016), a Florida federal magistrate judge dismissed as “a hodgepodge of unsupported assertions written in incomprehensible legalistic gibberish” a pleading captioned “All Writs of Habeas Corpus Declared by God.”

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 14, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Omaro v. O’Connell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153846 (WD NY, Nov. 4, 2016), a New York federal district court granted summary judgment to a Muslim inmate, finding that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was wrongly removed from the Ramadan call out meal schedule. The court referred the case to a magistrate judge for a settlement conference on damages.  The court dismissed plaintiff’s equal protection challenge.

In Holmes v. Engleson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155201 (ND IL, Nov. 9, 2016), an Illinois federal district court refused to dismiss an inmate’s complaint that his dreadlocks and beard that he wore for religious reasons were shaved against his will.

In Simmons v. Hulette, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155721 (ND CA, Nov. 9, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he has been denied a traditional Lakota Inipi Purification Ceremony, access to a drum circle and talking circle, medicine and materials for ceremonies and a competent spiritual adviser.

In Cooper v. Bower, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155988 (WD KY, Nov. 9, 2016), a Kentucky federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to receive a copy of the Qur’an that had been purchased for him by a relative instead of from funds in his inmate account.

In Yaacov v. Mohr, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156199 (ND OH, Nov. 10, 2016), an Ohio federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that he is unable to obtain kosher vegan meals.

In Parkerson v. Ferns, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156210 (D OR, Nov. 10, 2016), an Oregon federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and inmate’s complaint that he was suspended from receiving kosher meals because he ate non-kosher food from the commissary as well.

In Tilmon v. Keith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156512 (WD LA, Sept. 14, 2016), a Louisiana federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that in 2012 he was unable to observe Eid ul Adha. However he was permitted to proceed with his claim that unwanted exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke and synthetic marijuana smoke interfered with his ability to pray.

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.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 31, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Lind, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146953 (WD WI, Oct. 24, 2016), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with various of his claims relating to denial of adequate Ramadan meals, Eid-ul-Fitr feast foods, and a non-vegan Halal diet, as well as the prohibition on inmate-led services.

In Malone v. Duvall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147031 (SD IL, Oct. 24, 2016), an Illinois federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he was denied religious services.

In Houston v. Collerman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148106 (ND NY, Oct 26, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed without prejudice a Muslim inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when, because of a false misbehavior report, he was unable to participate in Ramadan and denied his religious meals.

In Goulding v. Kaemingk, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148020 (D SD, Oct. 25, 2016), a South Dakota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148327, Sept. 23, 2016), and dismissed an inmate’s claim that his religious rights were infringed when authorities denied his request to hold his own non-denominational Christian worship services and Bible study on Saturdays.

 In Padilla v. Kernan, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148386 (SD CA, Oct. 24, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed for failure to pay a filing fee an inmate’s complaint that he was denied kosher meals for a 15 month period.

In Wofford v. Austin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148907 (WD MI, Oct. 27, 2016), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that he was not provided a replacement meal when his Ramadan meal was cross-contaminated by spillage from one part of the meal onto another, and that he was verbally harassed when he complained.

In Espinoza v. Irby, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149178 (D AZ, Oct. 25, 2016), an Arizona federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that his kosher diet was discontinued.

In Booker v. Graham, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149332 (ND NY, Oct. 26, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that Ramadan observance was impeded by a facility-wide lockdown and that he was denied access to weekly congregate religious services while in administrative segregation. However the court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his claim of retaliation for filing grievances over the Ramadan lockdown.

In Raines v. Guembe, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149978 (ED CA, Oct. 27, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint by a Wiccan inmate that there was a 6 week delay in his beginning to receive vegetarian religious meals after he requested them.

UPDATE: In Watkins v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, (11th Cir., Oct. 28, 2016), the 11th Circuit in a brief per curiam opinion affirmed a trial court injunction ordering the state to furnish a kosher diet to an inmate, rejecting the state’s const containment and security arguments.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 24, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Peele v. Klemm, (3d Cir., Oct. 17, 2016), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s complaint that a Department of Corrections policy restricts rights to attend Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr feasts. Inmates were required to pay for the feast and had to participate in all of Ramadan.

In Wilkins v. Lemon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143491 (ND IN, Oct. 17, 2016), an Indiana federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead on claims for damages and injunctive relief for being denied halal meat, prayer oils and festive foods for the Eids.

In Biggins v. Coupe, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143696 (D DE, Oct. 14, 2016), a Delaware federal district court held that an inmate’s in forma pauperis free exercise claim is barred by the 3-strike rule even though it was brought as a mandamus action.

In Abreu v. Travers, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145171 (ND NY, Oct. 20, 2016), a New York federal district court held because plaintiff failed to identify his religion, it could not determine if the denial of one kosher meal placed a substantial burden on his religious beliefs.

In Wallace v. Olivarria, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146380 (SD CA, Oct. 21, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his religious practice was burdened by changing his schedule for his prison job.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 17, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Garner v. Muenchow, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141335 (ED WI, Oct. 12, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that correctional officers treated Muslim inmates differently than others in access to vendor catalogs to order religious items and access to a Qur’an from the chapel.

In Annabel v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142269 (WD MI, Oct. 14, 2016), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a broad series of claims of mistreatment by a Jewish inmate, including harassment on the basis of his religion and interferences with his kosher diet.

In Hamilton v. Deputy Warden, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142299 (SD NY, Oct. 13, 2016), a New York federal district court, while dismissing many claims, allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint against one defendant that he was denied access to religious services.

In Bullock v. Mitchell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142624 (WD NC, Oct. 13, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that authorities were attempting to reclassify the Moorish Science Temple of America as a gang and its members as “security threat individuals.”

In Wilcox v. Brown, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142625 (WD NC, Oct. 13, 2016, a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that Rastafarian services were suspended.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 10, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Rush v. Malin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137779 (SD NY, Oct. 4, 2016), a New York federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to a Shi’a Muslim inmate who was not permitted to observe Muharram/Ashura separately from Sunni Muslims.

In Khan v. Barela, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139052 (D NM, Sept. 30, 2016), a New Mexico federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint by a Muslim inmate that prison officials failed to give him a requested daily prayer schedule and Islamic Observance Calendar and required him to remain in a pod while Christian sermons were being presented.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 3, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In a lengthy opinion in Jackson v. Crawford, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130983 (WD MO, Sept. 26, 2016), a Missouri federal district court upheld the prison system’s failure to include “atheism” as a religious preference on intake forms, but allowed an inmate to move ahead on his claim that he was not given a sufficient opportunity for a secular alternative to the standard substance abuse program.

In Mitchell v. Cicchi, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131900 (D NJ, Sept. 26, 2016), a New Jersey federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with a claim for nominal damages asserting that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was not allowed to attend an Eid feast because he was in maximum custody status.

In Warrior v. Gonzalez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132639 (ED CA, Sept. 27, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed a suit by a Muslim inmate challenging unclothed visual body cavity searches of Muslim inmates during Ramadan before they were allowed to attend religious programming.

In Williams v. Blood, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133517 (D UT, Sept. 27, 2016), a Utah federal district court refused to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that authorities ended certain Islamic meetings and he was retaliated against for filing grievances about religious diet accommodations.

In Harris v. California Medical Forensic Service, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133752 (ND CA, Sept. 28, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claim that denial of use of marijuana burdened the exercise of his Christian Fundamentalist beliefs.

In Epperson v. Crawford, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134065 (WD KY, Sept. 29, 2016), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that a correctional officer dragged his prayer rug across the floor, but allowed him to move ahead with a complaint alleging retaliation for filing a grievance over the incident.

In Brewer-El v. Beckstrom, 2016 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 662 (KY App., Sept. 30, 2016), a Kentucky state appeals court upheld the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that his grievance would not be considered because he added the suffiix “EL” to his last name. He alleged this infringed his free exercise of religion.

In Williams v. Pollard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134509 (ED WI, Sept. 29, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint over confiscation of his materials from Fruit of Islam, a subgroup (considered by authorities as a security threat group) within the religious group Nation of Islam. His retaliation claim was also rejected.

In Sharps v. Richardson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135297 (D MD, Sept. 29, 2016) a Maryland federal district court rejected a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the vegetarian diet that complies with his religious requirements consists of a repetition of the same meals.

In Johnson v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135434 (MD PA, Sept. 30, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move forward with complaints that he was not permitted to engage in group prayer and was not allowed to pray in the prison library and at adult education classes.

In Elder v. Cook County Department of Corrections, 2016 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2117 (IL App., Sept. 30, 2016), an Illinois state appellate court upheld dismissal of a complaint by an inmate who was a follower of Hermeticism that his request for a copy of the Kybalion was ignored.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 26, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Whitney v. Varner, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127018 (MD PA, Sept. 19, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court held that where an inmate refused to provide a written indication of his religious preference, prison officials could not be found to have substantially burdened the exercise of his unknown belief.

In Sims v. Frakes, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127229 (D NE, Sept. 19, 2016), a Nebraska federal district court allowed a Native American inmate to proceed on his claim for prospective injunctive relief challenging limitations placed on sweat lodge and Pow Wow ceremonies.

In Windham v. Rodriguez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127501 (ED CA, Sept. 19, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge rejected a Muslim inmate’s claim that destruction of his Qur’an by a corrections officer substantially burdened his religious exercise, and held that to the extent he is suing for deprivation of property, he has an adequate post-deprivation remedy.

In Gray v. Perkins, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128117 (D NH, Sept. 20, 2016), a New Hampshire federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that in a cell search his Bibles, religious books, and religious pamphlets were seized and not returned.

In Bethel v. Jenkins, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128815 (SD OH, Sept. 21, 2016), an Ohio federal district court, adopting a magistrate’s recommendation, held that an exception that treated religious books shipped to inmates more favorably than other books did not violate the Establishment Clause or equal protection clause.

In Furnace v. Gipson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129156 (ED CA, Sept. 20, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be permitted to file and proceed with his third amended complaint claiming that prison authorities denied him a religious name change and denied his request to purchase religious items.

In Eleby v. Graham, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129831 (ND NY, Sept. 21, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by a Nation of Islam inmate who objected to a 6-day period during Ramadan where, because of a lockdown, Muslim inmates were not permitted to meet for communal meals or prayer and were provided a bag meal instead of a hot halal meal to break fast at sun up.

In Lewis v. Maye, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129861 (D KS, Sept. 21, 2016), a Kansas federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by a Nation of Islam inmate who contended that the prison chaplain did not consider the NOI holiday of Savior’s Day important enough to be recognized or given precedence over other activities in the multi-faith Life Connections Program.

In Harris v. Escamilla, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130006 (ED CA, Sept. 22, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmates’s complaint that during a cell search a corrections officer stepped on his Qur’an and there was delay in his obtaining a replacement copy.

In Miles v. Guice, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130316 (ED NC, Sept. 23, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a suit by a member of Nations of Gods and Earths who wanted group worship, holiday fasting, a vegan diet and written materials, and wanted to possess a medallion or flag.

In Howard v. Foster, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130465 (D NV, Sept. 23, 2016), a Nevada federal district court refused to dismiss an inmate’s complaint about conduct that an officer assigned to oversee Muslim religious services was disruptive and yelled so that inmates were unable to complete their services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 19, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Scarpinato v. Indiana State Prison, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122795 (ND IN, Sept. 12, 2016), an Indiana federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to have a Bible in his cell during periods he was in segregation.

In Thomas v. Lakin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123182 (SD IL, Sept. 12, 2016), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with claims that jail authorities denied his request for a copy of the Qur’an, a prayer mat, religious worship services, and a religious diet.

In Hanson v. New Hampshire State Prison Literary Review Commission, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123935 (D NH, Sept. 12, 2016), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123936, Aug. 17, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to receive a package containing the religious book The Shaolin Grandmasters’ Text, and a non-religious book, Sailing a Serious Ocean, sent along with it.

In Gayle v. Harmon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124565 (ED PA, Sept. 13, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court, dismissing a case, held that restrictions on attending religious services for those in administrative segregation are rationally related to a legitimate penological interest.

In Stocking v. Semple, 2016 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2210 (CT Super. Ct., Aug. 10, 2016), a Connecticut state trial court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was continually denied access to religious services.

In Aiello v. West, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124739 (WD WI, Sept. 14, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move forward with his RLUIPA challenge to the ban on inmate-led group religious services, but dismissed plaintiff’s 1st Amendment challenge to that ban as well as his challenges relating to availability of ritual foods for the Passover seder and to changes in the kosher meal menu.

In Munson v. Butler, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124817 (SD IL, Sept. 13, 2016), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a Buddhist inmate’s complaint that he was not able to receive a low soy lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.

In Beamon v. Dittmann, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124879 (ED WI, Sept. 14, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court upheld a prison’s ban on Nations of Gods and Earths material despite plaintiff’s claim that his beliefs were derived from various religious traditions.

In Salgado v. NYS Department of Corrections & Community Supervision, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126659 (WD NY, Sept. 14, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to proceed with his complaint that he was not allowed to wear his Dihk’r prayer beads outside of his cell.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 12, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Begnoche v. Derose, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119747 (MD PA, Sept. 2, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that the Therapeutic Community program involved religious content and interfered with his ability to practice his Native American religious beliefs.

In Shakur v. Thomas, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119767 (ND NY, Sept. 6, 2016), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72707, June 2, 2016)(see prior posting), finding a plausible showing that an inmate’s position as a Muslim Shia inmate facilitator is protected 1st Amendment speech or conduct for purposes of a retaliation claim. The court also adopted uncontested recommendations that plaintiff be allowed to move ahead with various claims of denial of Ramadan and festival meals and participation in congregational prayer.

In Espinosa v. Stogner, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120646 (D NV, Sept. 6, 2016), a Nevada federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that prison authorities violated the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses by refusing to recognize his “secular/religious Humanism” as an accepted faith group. However the court granted plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to allege “how his brand of humanism differs from tradition secular moral philosophy in a way sufficient to qualify as a religion under the Free Exercise Clause.”

In Wilson v. Avertest, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121593 (MD PA, Sept. 7, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of free exercise and 4th Amendment complaints by plaintiff who under a house arrest and alcohol monitoring program was required to undergo a below-the-waist strip search.  Plaintiff claimed that his Jewish faith requires that he “not to bare his nakedness for any unnecessary reason.”

In Wilkes v. Hunter, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121707 (ND CA, Sept. 8, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, plaintiff’s claim that jail deputies refused to allow him to bring a Christian cross into jail.

In Brown v. Mohr, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122292 (SD OH, Sept. 9, 2016), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended refusing to dismiss a Jewish inmate’s claim that he was denied a kosher diet for 10 weeks, but recommended dismissing his complaint that he was housed in a cell with a neo-Nazi inmate.

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.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 29, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Daker v. Warren, (11th Cir., Aug. 22, 2016), the 11th Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s free exercise challenge (but not his RLUIPA challenge) to a total ban on hardcover books and the dismissal of his RLUIPA challenge (but not his free exercise challenge) to holding religious services only on Wednesdays.

In Berger v. Burl, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111380 (ED AR, Aug. 22, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111559, Aug. 5, 2016) and dismissed an an atheist inmate’s claim that his rights were infringed when he was not allowed to grow a beard and long hair for non-religious reasons while others were permitted to do so for religious reasons.  The court allowed him to proceed on his complaint that a Christian group was allowed to line up outside his cell to sing and preach when he was placed in lock down.

In Robertson v. Call, 2016 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 682 (KS App., Aug. 19, 2016), a Kansas appellate court affirmed dismissal of a free exercise challenge by a Messianic Jewish inmate to a rule that prevents prisoners in segregation from having face-to-face meetings with their spiritual advisers.  The court remanded for further findings an Establishment Clause challenge to the rule.

In Martin v. MacLaren, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112812 (WD MI, Aug. 24, 2016), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to his book titled “The Fundamentals of the Yoruba Religion (Orisa Worship).”

In Al-Azim v. Everett, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113109 (ED VA, Aug. 23, 2016), a Virginia federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not receiving meals that complied with Nation of Islam dietary requirements. However the court dismissed his complaints about the need for more time for group religious activities and his inability to purchase CDs of Minister Farrakhan’s sermons directly from the Final Call, Inc.

In Blalock v. Smith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114215 (ND NY, Aug. 24, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to proceed with his complaint that he was not permitted to wear his pants hemmed above the top of his ankle as religiously required; but recommended dismissing complaints over his inability to attend two congregate prayer services and over a cell search that confiscated religious books.

In Greene v. County of Durham Office of the Sheriff Department, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114425 (MD NC, Aug. 26, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with a claim that arose when he was a pre-trial detainee that he was denied access to the day room for Islamic studies, but dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies his complaint that his Ramadan meal was thrown away and he was not given a replacement.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 22, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Aref v. Lynch, (DC Cir., Aug. 19, 2016), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion involving a number of other issues as well, rejected the claim of an inmate convicted of supporting terrorism that he was denied transfer out of the restrictive Communications Management Unit as retaliation for a sermon he gave as part of a Muslim prayer meeting.

In Shaw v. Upton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107690 (SD GA, Aug. 15, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to move ahead with most of his claims contending that he was denied meals in accordance with the tenets of his religion.

In Thomas v. Lawler, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108143 (MD PA, Aug. 16, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court held on various grounds that a Muslim inmate’s rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act were not infringed when Friday Jumu’ah services were held in the multi-faith chapel accessible only by walking four flights of steps.

In Sanford v. Madison County, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108734 (SD IL, Aug. 17, 2016), an Illinois federal district court dismissed some, but not all, defendants in a suit by a Muslim jail inmate complaining that he was denied Jumu’ah prayer services and was denied religious counseling on a equal basis with Christian inmates.

In Ryan v. Graham, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108976 (ND NY, Aug. 17, 2016), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed an inmate’s complaint over rules that limited him to having eleven religious books at one time.

In Epps v. Hein, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109247 (SD GA, Aug. 17, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to proceed with his RLUIPA challenge to the denial of a Rastafarian diet.

In Deangelis v. Cowels, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109785 (D CT, Aug. 18, 2016), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when his religious gold cross and gold necklace were taken from him and subsequently lost.

In Brown v. Cox, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110284 (ED CA, Aug. 18, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was denied access to his religious beads and cross while temporarily in administrative segregation.

In White v. Baker, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110873 (D NV, Aug. 19, 2016), a Nevada federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his suit seeking a “sacred Heraklean diet” (high protein natural and organic cuisine) and the right to possess two religious rings and a necklace, but dismissed his claims seeking group worship and official recognition of his religion.

In Carey v. Mason, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110879 (MD AL, Aug. 18, 2016), an Alabama federal magistrate judge, among other issues, dismissed a Buddhist inmate’s complaint that the warden tore up his bible (Diamond Sutra) and threw it in the trash.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 15, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Sims v. Owens, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105341 (MD GA, Aug. 10, 2016), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105554, July 22, 2016) and dismissed a suit by a Rastafarian inmate who was not permitted to grow a goatee.

In Glidden v. Cerliano, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105928 (ED TX, Aug. 10, 2016), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106356, June 24, 2016) and dismissed a suit by an inmate who had recently changed his religious preference to Pagan, but was not permitted to take possession of a book sent to him titled Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, and was not permitted to meet with a Coven priestess.

In Hoke v. Lyle, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106912 (SD GA, Aug. 8, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that a Christian inmate be allowed to proceed with certain RLUIPA, free exercise and equal protection claims regarding the refusal to provide him with a study Bible and his Bible lessons.

In Hunter v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105035 (SD GA, Aug. 9, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended denying summary judgement to either side in a Muslim inmate’s Establishment Clause and RLUIPA claims (but only for nominal damages) challenging the Georgia prison system’s Life Principles Program.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 8, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Perlman, (2d Cir., Aug. 3, 2016), the 2nd Circuit vacated and remanded a suit by a Muslim inmate challenging the policy that allows only one family event day (except for Native Americans).

In Putnam v. Brown, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100731 (D OR, Aug. 1, 2016), an Oregon federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that worship services were interrupted to turn on light and require a reduction in music volume, and his complaint that he was not permitted to attend worship services at times that conflicted with his work schedule.

In Shabazz v. Schofield, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100928 (WD TN, Aug. 2, 2016), a Tennessee federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead on his complaint that he was refused a protein supplement when pork was served and was not allowed to eat within the proper time during Ramadan.

In Fisher v. Schweitzer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101831 (SD OH, July 6, 2016), an Ohio federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that the warden prevented him from attending church services.

In Fox v. Lee, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103098 (ND NY, Aug. 5, 2016), a New York federal district court ordered the parties to move ahead with discovery on the claim by an inmate that he is a member of the ancient African Anunake religion and is being required to cut his hair which his religion calls for him to wear in a Mohawk style with Dreadlocks.

In Walker v. Koon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103225 (D SC, Aug. 5, 2016), a South Carolina federal district court agreed with a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a vegan or vegetarian diet on the basis of his inadequately completing a questionnaire on his religious need for it, and his complaint that a religion was needed to obtain such a diet.

In Sangraal v. Flagg, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103417 (SD IL, Aug. 5, 2016), an Illinois federal district court allowed a former inmate who is a Pagan to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to attend group worship while in segregation and was deliberately transferred to an institution that did not have Pagan religious services. In a second decision involving the same plaintiff, Sangraal v. Keim, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103447 (SD IL, Aug. 5, 2016), the court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with a damage claim against the prison chaplain for denying him a kosher diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 1, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mayo v. County of York, (3d Cir., July 25, 2016), the 3rd Circuit (via a footnote) affirmed dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that a package containing a Bible was initially rejected as overweight.

In Salas v. Gomez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96769 (ND CA, July 25, 2016), a California federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with claims against various defendants as to the adequacy of the kosher diet furnished him and the refusal to transfer him to a different prison that could meet his religious needs more generally.

In Long v. John Does 1-3, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96859 (D HI, July 25, 2016), a Hawaii federal district court held that a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not provided early meals during Ramadan states a claim, but that he must identify the John Doe defendants through interrogatories in order to move ahead.

In Parkell v. Senato, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97903 (D DE, July 26,2016), a Delaware federal district court permitted an inmate who practices a faith that combines Wicca and Judaism to move ahead with his 1st Amendment and equal protection claims regarding past refusal to furnish him a kosher diet.

In Rivera v. Stirling, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97947 (D SC, July 27, 2016), a South Carolina federal district court dismissed under the “three strikes” rule a suit by a Muslim inmate complaining that he did not receive a vegetarian diet. The magistrate’s recommendation is at 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98082, June 24, 2016.

In Hastings v. Thomas, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98161 (MD AL, July 26, 2016), an Alabama federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint by a Native American inmate that his religion was impeded.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 25, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Turner v. Sidorowicz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93339 (SD NY, July 18, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was removed from the kosher diet meal plan after he allegedly took food from the regular meal line.

In Powell v. City of New York, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94186 (SD NY, July 14, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that Muslims in his housing unit were not called for Friday Jummah services for two consecutive weeks.

In Turner v. Schofield, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94304 (WD TN, July 20, 2016), a Tennessee federal district court, while dismissing a number of claims, allowed a Nation of Islam inmate to move ahead with his complaint that pork meals are being served in the non-pork food line, that he is allergic to the food being served as  a pork replacement, and he has been refused passes for religious services when hi uses his Nation of Islam name to sign up.

In Burrell v. Loungo, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94561 (MD PA, July 18, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, numerous claims by an inmate including his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when his request for a furlough to attend an outside church service was denied.

In McCann v. Moreno, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 7715 (TX App., July 21, 2016), a Texas state appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a claim by a Jewish-Druid inmate that insistence he receive an insulin dose at 3:00 am violates his free exercise rights because his religion requires that he not eat or rise before sunrise.

In Henderson v. Muniz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94828 (ND CA, July 20, 2016), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaints regarding denial of daily and Friday prayers, denial of a qualified Muslim chaplain, necessary congregational artifacts, ability to celebrate Iftar and, as to one defendant, failure to provide hot Ramadan meals prepared and served by Muslim inmates.

In Etterson v. Newcome, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94927 (ED VA, July 19, 2016), a Virginia federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s complaint that  he was wrongly removed him from the list to receive Ramadan trays when he was seen eating and drinking after sundown but before the Ramadan trays had been served.

In Celestin v. Rock, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95450 (ND NY, July 20, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing on qualified immunity grounds a Jewish inmate’s complaint about not receiving Seder meals in special housing unit. The court stated: “although plaintiff may have had a well-established right to have the Seder meal brought to his cell, based on his individual belief that he could celebrate the Seder by himself, it was objectively reasonable for all the defendants to believe that they were not violating plaintiff’s rights….”

In Flowers v. Mullet, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95009 (WD OK, July 21, 2016), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95473, June 27, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a Bible was taken from his cell.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 18, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Johnson v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90255 (MD PA, July 11, 2016), Muslim inmates alleged various interferences with their ability to pray 5 times per day.  A Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a number of the claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and dismissing on the merits a claim that plaintiff is not allowed to pray while in the prison library and while at his adult education classes.

In Lane v. Tavares, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91052 (MD PA, July 12, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to proceed with his complaint that authorities have failed to accommodate his religious needs.  He often cannot attend Friday Prayers because his heart condition prevents him from climbing the five flights of stairs to reach the chapel.

In Giraldes v. Beard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91205 (ED CA, July 13, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge, denying a preliminary injunction, rejected a Catholic inmate’s claim that denial of conjugal visits infringed his free exercise rights and his rights under RLUIPA.

In Roberts v. Perry, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91639 (WD NC, July 14, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that authorities refuse to recognize Nation of Israel as an approved faith group and that inmates are limited to ten religious publications.

In Allah v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91939 (WD VA, July 15, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that the file from his litigation that included much Nation of Gods and Earths material was seized by prison authorities.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 11, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Gilbert v. Fox, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86811 (D CO, June 9, 2016), a Colorado federal district court held that an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights are violated by refusal to recognize his Nuwaupian Certificate of Live Birth Name is a challenge to conditions of confinement and cannot be decided in a habeas corpus proceeding.

In Gadbury v. California, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86891 (ED CA, July 1, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s attempt to obtain a vegetarian diet (which also meets his medical needs) for religious reasons.

In Ryan v. Graham, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87477 (ND NY, July 5, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by a Muslim inmate that his free exercise rights were infringed by limiting him to having eleven books in his cell while in special housing unit.

In Deen v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87607 (ND CA, July 6, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim inmates are not allowed to pray in groups of more than four.

In Davis v. Bateman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88532 (ED PA, July 7, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to attend religious services on four occasions. He had attended both Christian and Muslim services a total of 61 times.

In Pierre v. Geo Group, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88698 (MD GA, June 3, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be permitted to move ahead with his complaint that he was forced to shave rather than being allowed to grow a beard as required by his religious beliefs.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 4, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Jensen, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82909 (WD WI, June 27, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court rejected claims by plaintiff who was committed as a sexually violent person that his right to freely exercise his Wiccan religion were infringed by a new restrictions on computer use and on computer access to clip art.

In Townsend v. Headley, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82947 (ND AL, June 27, 2016), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83182, May 11, 2016) and dismissed without prejudice the claim by a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America that his free exercise rights were infringed when “my chartel paper I use to open up as Grand-Shiek” (along with other papers, books, magazines and photos) was destroyed as contraband.

In Hardwick v. Senato, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83565 (D DE, June 28, 2016), a Delaware federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint of 4 years’ delay in confirming his Jewish faith, and called for plaintiff to file an a mended complaint stating more clearly his claims regarding refusal of a position because he would not work on his Sabbath, and problems receiving kosher meals.

In Bryant v. Woodall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83690 (MD TN, June 28, 2016), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended that inmates who are members of the Odinic or Asatru faith be allowed to move ahead with their attempt to obtain approval for group worship and acquisition of various items used during worship ceremonies.

In Stile v. United States Marshals Services, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83747 (D NH, June 27, 2016), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83750, May 9, 2016) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he could not participate in weekly religious services while he was being housed the maximum security disciplinary unit.

In Amaker v. Goord, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83976 (WD NY, June 27, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge (in addition to ruling on a number of non-religion related issues) recommended that an inmate be allowed to proceed with his free expression, but not his RLUIPA, complaint that delivery of incoming mail including Jehovah’s Witnesses’ magazines was denied. The court recommended dismissal of his complaint regarding occasional denial of food to break the fast during Ramadan, and his claim that denial of call outs was in retaliation for not complying with the prison grooming policy.

In Holland v. City of New York, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84586 (SD NY, June 24, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a Muslim inmate’s complaint about a strip search because there was no clearly established rule that, during a lockdown or other exigent situation, a correction officer is prohibited from conducting a strip search and viewing the private parts of a Muslim inmate of the opposite sex,

In Brown v. Fischer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85105 (WD NY, June 23, 2016), a New York federal district court allowed a Rastafarian inmate to proceed with his complaint that, while in restraints after an attempt to injure himself, his dreadlocks were forcibly cut while he was told Rastafarians were not permitted in that housing unit.

In Kadonsky v. D’Ilio, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86224 (D NJ, July 1, 2016), a New Jersey federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his claim that a series of incidents led to ongoing theft and denial of access to his personal religious documents.

In Mehmood v. United States Marshals Services, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86082 (D NV, June 30, 2016), a Nevada federal district court held that petitioners had stated a colorable free exercise claim based on the lack of halal-certified meals, but dismissed without prejudice ordering each petitioner to file separately stating allegations specific to him.

In Green v. Director/Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86187 (SD CA, June 10, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Native American inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when his religious items were confiscated and he was denied access to a sweat lodge, and that his 8th Amendment claims be similarly dismissed.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 27, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Russell v. Helder, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79862 (WD AR, June 20, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79870, May 18, 2016), and refused to dismiss a suit by a Wiccan inmate who was seeking a vegan diet for religious reasons.

In Maon v. State Department of State Hospitals, 2016 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4576 (CA App., June 21, 2016), a California state appeals court upheld a decision by authorities at a state mental hospital refusing to allow a patient detained there who was to be married in the hospital’s visiting room to wear a tuxedo for the ceremony in accordance with Buddhist tradition.

In Rivera v. Raines, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82495 (SD IL, June 23, 2016), an inmate complaining about the refusal of prison officials to permit Nation of Gods & Earths to hold religious services was allowed by an Illinois federal district court to move ahead with his challenges under the 1st Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and his official capacity RLUIPA claims.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 20, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Davis v. Davis, (5th Cir., June 14, 2016), the 5th Circuit , while affirming in part, vacated and remanded a district court’s refusal to allow Native American inmates to wear long hair or kouplocks. The district court had not evaluated plaintiffs’ claims in light of the specific characteristics and security risks posed by each inmate.

In Rouser v. White, (9th Cir., June 17, 2016), the 9th Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, held that the district court had abused its discretion in terminating a 2011 consent decree that allowed a Wiccan inmate to practice his religion in various ways.

In Epps v. Hein, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73906 (SD GA, June 6, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge dismissed, but with leave to amend to allege a sincere religious belief, an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a kosher Rastafarian diet.

In Ahdom v. Etchebehere, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76149 (ED CA, June 9, 2016), a California federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead under the free exercise clause with his complaint that he had been denied religious Ramadan Halal meals for a period of six days.

In Parker v. Shepard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77854 (SD GA, June 15, 2016), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78216, April 18, 2016)  and denied a preliminary injunction to a Rastafarian inmate who wished to wear long hair and dreadlocks.

In Muhammad v. Crews, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78744 (ND FL, June 15, 2016), a Florida federal district court, adopting a magistrate’s recommendations in part, dismissed a number of claims by a Muslim inmate but remanded for evaluation under a proper framework his claim that he was denied a religious diet during a 4-year period.

In Owens v. Kernan, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78854 (ED CA, June 16, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a claim by an inmate serving a life sentence that denial of a conjugal visit to consummate his marriage violates his rights under RLUIPA.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 6, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Longoria v. Kansas Department of Corrections, 2016 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 414 (KA App., May 27, 2016), a Kansas appellate court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that among items taken by a correctional officer from his cell were 5 pages he had torn out from the Bible.

In Isby-Israel v. Lemmon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71092 (SD IN, June 1, 2016), an Indiana federal district court dismissed a Hebrew Israelite inmate’s complaint regarding the form that was required to be signed in order to obtain kosher meals.

In Skates v. Shusda, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71446 (ND NY, May 31, 2106), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Nation of Islam inmate be permitted to move ahead with his complaint that he did not received a Sahoor bag meal on one occasion that he needed to consume before down in order to observe the NOI Holy Day of Atonement fast.

In Jackson v. Russell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71842 (D DE, June 2, 2016), a Delaware federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that he was relieved of his duties as chapel photographer and not chosen as Nehemiah Chapel Clerk because he is a Mormon.

In Doering v. Reed, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72638 (WD AR, June 3, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72639, April 29, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a correctional officer asked to see his religious accommodation form that allowed him to wear a beard, and when shown it threw it to the floor and said he hoped plaintiff “got mange.”

In Shakur v. Thomas, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72707 (ND NY, June 2, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied an Eid ul-Adha festival meal, was denied halal meals and sahur bags for 6 days during Ramadan when there was a prison shutdown, was denied participation in congregational prayer and a halal meal during the Muslim holiday of Shawwal, and was subjected to retaliation. However he recommended dismissal of various other claims, including and equal protection claim.

In Kindred v. King, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72851 (ED CA, June 2, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing with leave to amend a suit by a Native American civil detainee who alleged a series of infringements of his Native American religious practices.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 30, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Clark v. Curry, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67162 (MD AL, May 23, 2016), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67312, April 20, 2016) and dismissed plaintiff’s objections to allegedly required participation in a faith-based Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program as a condition of his suspended sentence.

In Smith v. Fischer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67403 (WD NY, May 23, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint about a 9-day delay in receiving a kosher diet.

In Powlette v. Morris, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67796 (SD NY, May 23, 2016) a New York federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds plaintiffs’ complaint that prison authorities replaced the Rastafari holiday of Negus Day with the Battle of Adwa Victory in the 2013 DOCCS Religious Calendar.

In Riley v. Muhammad, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68766 (WD PA, April 4, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to have his pants legs rolled up in violation of his religious beliefs, his complaint over the way prison authorities calculated the beginning of Ramadan, and his complaiant that he was not furnishes halal meat.

In Muhammad v. Douglas, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70000 (SD NY, May 25, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by placing him in keeplock for refusing to have his beard removed.

In Hoffman v. Lassen Adult Detention Facility, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70086 (ED CA, May 26, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing plaintiff to proceed with his claim for damages for an initial denial of his request for a kosher diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 23, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Davila v. Marshall, (11th Cir., May 20, 2016), the 11th Circuit upheld the dismissal of a complaint by an inmate that he was denied delivery of a Spanish language Santeria bible and a set of five Santeria bead necklaces required to practice his religion which had been sent to him.

In Merrick v. Inmate Legal Services, (9th Cir., 9th Cir., May 16, 2016), the 9th Circuit reversed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that the jail did not allow him to confess to clergy of his faith by way of un-monitored, unrecorded phone calls.

In Quinn v. Management & Training Corp., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64048 (SD MS, May 16, 2016), a Mississippi federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64049, April 20, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that authorities denied him the right to designate Voodoo as his religion of preference.

In Cochran v. Sherman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64958 (ED CA, May 17, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to proceed with his RLUIPA claim against the warden seeking an injunction that would allow him, for religious reasons, to obtain a name change.

In Williams v. Beard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65245 (MD PA, May 18, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court, finding that plaintiff’s rights under RLUIPA had been violated, ordered the prison to provide a clean and appropriate space for Muslim inmates working in the kitchen to offer prayer in a prone position during their shift all year round, or else allow Muslim inmates on kitchen duty to pray in the dining room.

In Atkinson v. Mackinnon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65281 (WD WI, May 18, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was reassigned to a less desirable position with less pay and fewer hours because he is a Muslim.

In Bragg v. Smith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65412 (ED AR, May 18, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65408, April 27, 2016) and dismissed a Musliim inmate’s complaint that he was served pork at least three times per week.

In Herndon v. Tostand, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65662 (ED CA, May 17, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s vague claim that “our Imam does not have any money to give one jumuah prayer on Fridays.”

In Hall v. Frauenheim, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65693 (ED CA, May 17, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he missed numerous kosher meals, which are a call to worship, and that defendant criticized his religion.

In Cosby v. Erfe, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65884 (D CT, May 19, 2016), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Buddhist inmate’s complaint about difficulties in obtaining a vegetarian diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 16, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Harvey v. Segura, (10th Cir., May 10, 2016), the 10th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that authorities confiscated his  kufi.

In Vazquez v. Maccone, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60372 (ED NY, May 6, 2016), a New York federal district court held that plaintiff’s inability to kneel on the floor to silently pray while temporarily held in the squad room for arrest processing did impose a substantial burden on his religious exercise.

In Jones v. Arizona Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60454 (D Z, May 5, 2016), an Arizona federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was not permitted to grow his beard longer than one-quarter inch, and that the feeding time for Ramadan began too late.

In Phillips v. Cobb, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60716 (WD LA, May 6, 2016), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60717, April 4, 2016) and dismissed a complaint by a Muslim inmate that he was not allowed to attend congregational jumu’ah services, receive a prayer rug or kufi or receive adequate meals during Ramadan.

In Desmond v. Phelps, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61406 (D DE, May 9, 2016), a Delaware federal district court refused to dismiss, but ordered an amended complaint with a more definite statement of plaintiffs’ claims that authorities refused to allow Catholic inmates to worship, assemble, and celebrate on all religious holidays, and engaged in other sorts of retaliation.

In Jones v. Western Tidewater Regional Jail, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61425 (ED VA, May 6, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Rastafarian inmate that the food service provider and kitchen supervisor refused to serve him his religiously required vegan diet.

In Tillman v. Allen, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62260 (ED VA, May 9, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed on various grounds a complaint by a Wiccan inmate that he could not attend Wiccan services, possess Wiccan objects or partake in the Common Fare diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 9, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Robinson v. Wetzel, (3d Cir., May 3, 2016), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a complaint by a Christian inmate held in the highest level of security that he was not allowed to view church services, Bible study and religious programming by closed-circuit television.

In Garnica v. Washington Department of Corrections, (9th Cir., May 5, 2016), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a suit complaining that prison officials inadvertently provided plaintiff a low-calorie meal on the first day of Ramadan 2010 before correcting the error.

In Williams v. Does, (2d Cir., May 6, 2016), the 2nd Circuit reversed the district court and held that a Muslim inmate plausibly alleged a free exercise violation stemming from several of his Ramadan meals being served to him before sunset.

In Bradford v. Kramer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58067 (SD IL, April 29, 2016), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Sunni Muslim pre-trial detainee to move ahead with his claim that 24-hour camera surveillance of him in his cell violates his religious belief that he can be seen nude only by his wife.

In Halsey v. Armstrong, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58436 (D OR, April 28, 2016), an Oregon federal magistrate judge dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint by a Muslim inmate that an officer insulted his religion; that he was wrongly removed from the Ramadan fast list because of false reports that he had broken the fast; and that he was subsequently precluded from engaging in any religious activities.

In Valerio v. New Hampshire Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59237 (D NH, May 3, 2016), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59515, April 1, 2016) and, while dismissing a number of claims, allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed by a group strip search following a Christian revival event. His religious beliefs bar his being nude in front of other men.

In Bausman v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59514 (ED CA,May 3, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that a change in regulations reduced the kinds of religious and cultural items that Native American inmates can possess.

In Hoffmann v. Price, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59520 (ED CA, May 3, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that during a cell search officer went through his kosher food bags and placed his Torah open and face-down on the floor and leaving a boot print on it.

In Hampton v. Chaplin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59583 (SD IN, May 4, 2016), an Indiana federal district court dismissed an inmate’s suit claiming $1 million in damages for emotional distress when he was removed one time from religious services.

In Blankenship v. Setzer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59862 (WD NC, May 5, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Christian inmate’s complaint that his Bible was confiscated under jail policies that barred possession of books without covers, and that he was not permitted to take his Bible during transfers between jails.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 2, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause 

In Isakhanova v. Muniz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55649 (ND CA, April 26, 2016), a California federal district court allowed a suit by the mother of a Muslim inmate to proceed.  While visiting her son in prison, the mother was held for several hours on suspicion of passing tobacco to her son. While being held she was questioned extensively about her religious beliefs and practices.

In Sims v. Wegman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56251 (ED CA, April 27, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with a complaint that he was denied a diet that complies with Nation of Islam requirements and was also denied a kosher diet as an alternative.

In Beaudette v. Winfrey, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56275 (ND CA, April 26, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that some of his Christian Identity religious material was removed when he was moved to administrative segregation, and the material was never returned to him.

In James v. Taylor, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55811 (MD GA, April 27, 2016), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56612, March 22, 2016) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s claim against the prison warden alleging that plaintiff was denied vegan meals required by his religion during a Mental Health Evaluation.

In Williams v. Cox, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56714 (SD GA, April 28, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing as moot a complaint by a Hebrew Israelite inmate that he was refused a work proscription for the Messianic/Sabbatarian date (as opposed to the Jewish date) for observance of Shavuot.

In Davilla v. Watts, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56721 (SD GA, April 28, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended  that plaintiff be allowed to move ahead with free exercise, RFRA and equal protection objections to the elimination of “Spiritual Mass” for Santeria inmates and other interferences with Santeria practices.

In Wolcott v. Board of Rabbis of Northern & Southern California, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56847 (ED CA, April 28, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge granted an inmate leave to file a third amended complaint alleging that Jewish inmates are allowed to possess Tefillin and a Tallit Katan only once a week in the chapel.

In Bayadi v. United States, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57232 (WD VA, April 29, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed as frivolous an inmate’s claim that language in the state constitution establishes Christianity as the state religion.

In Evans v. Aramark Food & Commissary Services, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57418 (SD NY, April 28, 2016), a New York federal court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was served insufficient amounts of food during Ramadan.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 25, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause 

In Greybuffalo v. Wall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50751 (WD WI, April 15, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court permitted a Native American inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his requests for devotional services for the Native American Church and for group use of a water drum have been denied.

In Smith v. Courtney, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51065 (ND FL, April 14, 2016), a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51068, March 22, 2016) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that inmates in close management are not allowed to attend religious preaching and prayer with other Muslim inmates.

In Evans v. Muniz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51804 (ND CA, April 18, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint against one of the defendants. At issue was the lack of halal meals.

In Jones v. Johnson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52553 (D CT, April 20, 2016), a Connecticut federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that inmates in segregation were denied religious services.

In Cejas v. Myers, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53088 (ED CA, April 19, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Buddhist inmate’s complaint about denial of chapel access for group services.

In Martinez v. Flicker, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53149 (ED CA, April 19, 2106), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s vague allegations that his religious rights have been infringed.

In Don v. Kelley, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54124 (ED AR, April 22, 2016), an Arkansas federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint by an inmate who practiced his religion as a Nazarite over the questioning and harassment he received about his religious beliefs.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 18, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause 

In Williams v. Wilkinson, (10th Cir., April 14, 2016), the 10th Circuit, reversing the district court, held that a Muslim inmate could move ahead with his RLUIPA and 1st Amendment challenges to the denial of his request for a kosher diet, even though a halal diet would have been available to him if he requested it.

In Banks v. United States Marshals Service, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45931 (WD PA, April 4, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46624, Feb. 24, 2016) and dismissed a damage action alleging that a jail chaplain failed to procure Wiccan tools and a Wiccan bible for plaintiff, and that various defendants failed to provide a volunteer wiccan chaplain.

In Johnson v. Gonzalez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46688 (ED CA, April 6, 2016) a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that religious items including his Qur’an were destroyed when authorities disposed of his excess property in preparation for his move to a segregation unit.

In Dixon v. Allison, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46775 (ED CA, April 6, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a former inmate’s vague claim that his religious rights were infringed when placed in lockdown.

In Locascio v. Longinetti, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46918 (D NJ, April 7, 2016), plaintiff sued after his supervised release was revoked for promoting gang signs, namely wearing a shirt with a design that included a swastika that plaintiff claimed was a religious, not a Nazi, symbol. A New Jersey federal district court permitted plaintiff to move ahead with a suit for an injunction to prevent his religion from being used against him in future parole proceedings. It dismissed his claims for damages and overturning of his parole revocation.

In Vaughn v. Wegman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47354 (ED CA, April 7, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Jewish inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to continue his participation in the Jewish Kosher program and services.

In Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc. v. Thompson, 2016 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 269 (KY App., April 8, 2016), a Kentucky state appeals court upheld a prison rule that inmates use their legal name on official documents.  Plaintiff, a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America, had a grievance rejected by prison authorities because he signed it including his “attribute or tribal name.” He claimed refusing to allow him to use this violated his free exercise rights.

In Gordon v. Fisher, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48305 (ND MS, April 11, 2016), a Mississippi federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his requests for Jewish religious material and food were denied.

In Vincent v. Stewart, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48535 (WD WA, April 11, 2016), a Washington federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Hare Krishna inmate that his religion required his diet to include fresh milk, and the vegan or metabolic diets he was forced to choose between did not satisfy his religious and health needs.

In Talib v. Guerrero, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49891 (CD CA, March 14, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed complaints by four plaintiffs, who were held overnight on a stolen vehicle charge that their religious head dresses and spiritual jewelry were forcibly removed.  The suit involved over a dozen other complaints about his treatment as well.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 11, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Woodward v. Afify, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42738 (WD NY, March 29, 2016) a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by a Muslim inmate that he was denied  access to Friday prayer services and Ramadan meals. He was allowed to move ahead on other retaliation claims.

In Henrius v. County of Nassau, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43795 (ED NY, March 31, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to attend religious services on one occasion.

In Howard v. Skolnik, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44624 (D NV, March 31, 2016), a Nevada federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds the decision by prison authorities to refuse to recognize Nation of Islam as a religion for approved prison activities.

In DeJesus v. Bradt, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44716 (WD NY, March 31, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that during Ramadan Muslims were not permitted to take unfinished food from the double evening meal back to their cells to eat during the night. The court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his complaint that on 10 occasions during Ramadan he was not permitted to take a shower or engage in ritual cleansing before group prayer.

In Hogue v. Ada County, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45011 (D ID, March 31, 2016), an Idaho federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that as part of his behavioral management plan he was prohibited from possessing a Bible or any other religious book.

In Flynn v. Ward, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45075 (ND NY, April 4, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was forced to give up his prayer rug and mail it home.

In Sterling v. Sellers, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45607 (MD GA, April 5, 2016), a Georgia federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was not allowed to engage in daily congregational prayer. The magistrate’s opinion in the case is at 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45896, Feb. 22, 2016.

In Sanders v. Cain, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42069 (MD LA, March 28, 2016), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46031, Feb. 19, 2016) and dismissed as frivolous a Mormon inmate minister’s complaint that he was unable to congregate with other Mormons in the main prison complex, or to hold fund-raisers. His claims regarding his status as an inmate minister and false disciplinary charges were dismissed insofar as they were brought in forma pauperis.

In Allen v. Ahlin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46697 (ED CA, April 5, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that his religious rights were being infringed by the denial of a vegetarian diet.

In Huddleston v. Wilson County Criminal Justice Complex, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46598 (MD TN, April 5, 2016), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’ complaint that his personal Baptist pastor had been unable to visit him because he was not on the jail’s ministry list.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 4, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Navarro v. Herndon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39682 (ED CA, March 25, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Native American inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaints regarding denial of access to a sweat lodge, to a  spiritual advisor and to religious property.

In Seagraves v. Treachler, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40992 (D NJ, March 29, 2016), a New Jersey federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his free exercise and RLUIPA claims that the prison chaplain denied his request for vegetarian meals.

In Bey v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation & Parole, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41017 (MD PA, March 29, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations that an inmate who was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America and objected to the Therapeutic Community program in which he was required to participate can move ahead with an establishment clause, but not a free exercise clause, claim.

In Presley v. Scott, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40107 (ND AL, March 28, 2016), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41087, March 2, 2016) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Native American inmate’s complaint that authorities seized his medicine bag and the refused to allow him to retrieve religious objects when he was transferred.

In Hoever v. Bellelis, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41168 (ND FL, March 29, 2016) a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41174, Feb. 24, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied his English version of the Bible and two devotional books for 26 days.  During that time he had his own Spanish Bible and could pray.

In Givens v. Vaughn, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41208 (SD IL, March 29, 2016), an Illinois federal district court allowed an African American Hebrew Israelite inmate to move ahead with complaints regarding denial of group Sabbath day services and ending of his kosher diet as well as retaliation and equal protection claims.

In Thomas v. Dakota County Law Enforcement Center, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41596 (D MN, March 29, 2016), a Minnesota federal district court held that because plaintiff, a Muslim inmate, named defendants only n their official capacities, his only claim that can move forward is one that the county had a policy of prohibiting Muslim prisoners from holding religious gatherings.

In Uduko v. Cozzens, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42048 (ED MI, March 30, 2016), a Michigan federal district court, while dismissing claims against a number of defendants, allowed an inmate who was Nigerian and a Protestant to move ahead with claims based on retaliation and discrimination against the prison chaplain who barred defendant from leading Protestant services or Bible or study groups, and later barred him from prophesying or praying for others in group services.

In Sanders v. Cain, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42069 (MD LA, March 28, 2016), a Louisiana federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that Mormons could not worship together on Sundays at the main prison complex and were denied club status, and that his transfer to another part of the prison prevented him from congregating or holding fund raisers with other Mormons.

In Johnson v. Ely State Prison, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42378 (D NV, March 30, 2016), a Nevada federal district court, while disagreeing in part with a magistrate’s reasons, agreed that material facts remain for the fact finder on a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was prevented from attending Jum’ah for three years while held as a high risk inmate serving disciplinary sanctions.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 28, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Dolan v. Lowe, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35118 (MD PA, March 18, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court upheld prison authorities’ refusal to allow an inmate to change his religious designation from Christian-Catholic to Islam so he could participate in Ramadan.

In Langford v. Koskela, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35712 (WD MI, March 21, 2016), a Michigan federal district court rejected a Muslim inmate’s challenge to misconduct sanctions imposed when he refused to give a urine sample for drug testing while he was abstaining from food and water for Ramadan.

In Hayes v. Bruno, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35996 (D CT, March 21, 2016), a Connecticut federal district court rejected a claim by an Orthodox Jewish inmate that the prison’s Common Fare diet, which had been certified as kosher by two rabbis who served a prison chaplains, did not meet Orthodox kosher standards because of the method of preparation.

In Weddle v. Baker, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36133 (D NV, March 21, 2016), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37307, Jan. 11, 2016) and dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that he was denied kosher meals.

In Cox v. Cronin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36549 (WD NY, March 18, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that barring him from NA meetings violated his free exercise rights because he had adopted NA as his religion. The court concluded that defendants were protected by qualified immunity.

In Al-Fuyudi v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36687 (WD OK, March 22, 2016), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37750, Jan. 26, 2016) and dismissed a complaint by a Muslim inmate in a private prison that he was not provided a proper and nutritionally adequate halal diet, was denied the right to wear a kufi at all times, and was not provided religious materials, access to Muslim television programs, and additional chapel time for services.

In Oliver v. Harner, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36835 (SD IL, March 22, 2016), an Illinois federal district court allowed an Assembly of Yahweh inmate to move ahead with his complaint against the prison chaplain that he was denied a kosher diet.

In McCombs v. Parker, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36906 (WD NC, March 22, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a kosher diet and was denied the ability to attend a Messianic Jewish prayer service when the volunteer who was supposed to supervise it was ill.

In Booker v. Graham, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37100 (ND NY, March 21, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge told defendants to wait until the completion of discovery to move for summary judgment in a case in which Muslim inmates complained that they could not attend daily Ramadan services or consult with an imam during a lock down and that they received inappropriate Ramadan food.

In Smith v. Davis, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37325 (ND CA, March 21, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed two of the defendants in a Muslim inmate’s suit claiming that Muslim inmates were limited to one congregational prayer service per day and could not meet in groups of 5 or more for prayer. The suit continues against two others.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 21, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Helling v. Johnson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30874 (ED WI, March 9, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to read his Quran in his jail cell, but had to go to a dirty holding cell to do so, while other inmates could read their Bibles in their own cells.

In Bishop v. Jesson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30395 (D MN, March 9, 2016), a Minnesota federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31142, Feb. 12, 2016) and permitted a detainee in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program to move ahead on a number of his state and federal claims objecting to the quality and quantity of food in the kosher meal program, as well as complaints about food meeting kosher standards.

In Berisha v. Farrell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31607 (ND NY, March 8, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge concluded that challenges by a corrections officer to a Muslim inmate’s right to wear a beard did not impose a substantial burden on the inmate’s ability to practice his religion.

In Williams v. Stovall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31717 (WD AR, March 11, 2016), an Arkansas federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied a pork-free diet.

In Rodriguez v. Favro, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31758 (ND NY, March 9, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing the complaint of a Rastafarian inmate that he was permitted to wear his crown (a religious head covering) only in his cell and housing unit, and not outside of these areas.

In Peele v. Klemm, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32333 (WD PA, March 14, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s rambling, incoherent complaint regarding restrictions on Muslim inmates’ right to attend the two feasts of the Ramadan holiday.

In Green v. Hawkinberry, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32615 (WD PA, March 14, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed a suit by an inmate who had filed a request to change religion who complained about the three years it took until he was able to qualify for the change and receive kosher meals.

In Robinson v. Cate, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32699 (ED CA, March 11, 2016), a case in which a Muslim inmate is seeking a Halal diet, a California federal magistrate judge recommended denying plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction granting him a kosher diet as a stopgap measure while his suit is pending.

In Carter v. Tegels, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33382 (WD WI, March 15, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed Muslim inmates’ challenges to a rule barring inmate-led religious services (which resulted in a failure to hold Jumu’ah services in April of 2012), and challenges to the failure to hire a Muslim chaplain.

A California federal district court (ND Cal., March 14 and 17, 2016) issued essentially identical opinions in 6 separate cases allowing inmates at San Quentin to move ahead with suits challenging correctional officers that limited Muslim inmates to one congregational prayer service per day, and barred groups of 5 or more from meeting for prayer. The cases are Saif’ullah v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33424; Fardan v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35542; Karafili v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35559; Abdullah v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35543; Shabazz v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35540; Aziz v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35555.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 14, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wilson v. Soto, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27449 (CD CA, March 2, 2016), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27451, Jan. 21, 2016) and allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed on a RLUIPA claim for equitable relief growing out of a strip search in the presence of female prison staff. Other claims were dismissed, but some with leave to amend. Plaintiff was required to file an amended complaint in order to move ahead.

In Seina v. Federal Detention Center Honolulu, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28544 (D HI, March 7, 2016), a Hawaiian federal district court dismissed a Native American inmate’s claim that his right to properly conduct an American Indian Pipe Ceremony was severely hindered because he was not treated for his medical condition (hypertension).

In Hill v. Management Training Corp., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28686 (SD MS, March 7, 2016), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge dismissed a Catholic inmate’s complaint that because of an expansive lock down, during the one year period of his incarceration he was only able to attend one religious service.

In Johnson v. Nevada Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29355 (D NV, March 7, 2016), a Nevada federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with claims that his kufi was confiscated, he was denied halal meals and was not served meals on the Ramadan schedule on time.

In Mujahid Ta’Lib Din v. Albritton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29676 (ND CA, March 8, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim congregational prayers during open day room hours were improperly limited.

In Vega v. Hardy, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29911 (ND IL, March 9, 2016), an Illinois federal district court permitted an African Hebrew Israelite inmate who had taken a Nazirite vow to move ahead with his complaint that the warden would not permit him to grow a kouplock as part of his hairstyle.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 7, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Young v. Muhammad, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24711 (CD CA, Feb. 24, 2016), a California federal district court accepted most of a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176470, Dec. 22, 2015) and dismissed claims by an inmate who was removed from the Ramadan list and Muslim services for a period of time after he argued over religious theology with other inmates.

In Dawson v. Beard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24806 (ED CA, Feb. 26, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to religious services on numerous occasions, and denied the right to fast.

In Brandon v. Schroyer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25003 (ND NY, Feb. 26, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge rejected claims by a Muslim inmate that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was served meals containing pork ten times during a year, and found he had failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to denial of participation in Ramadan and access to congregate religious services.

In Hamilton v. Countant, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25329 (SD NY, March 1, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that authorities seized religious items from the prison chapel, made alterations to the calendar on which the prison listed recognized religious holidays, and refused to provide the cornbread and grape juice required for him to take communion during the Rastafarian Fasika holiday.

In Jarrett v. Snyder, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25277 (WD MI, Feb. 29, 2016), a Michigan federal district court permitted a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was wrongfully removed from the vegetarian meal plan. The magistrate’s opinion in the case is at 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25844, Jan. 11, 2016.

In Hoeck v. Miklich, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25940 (D CO, March 1, 2016), a Colorado federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176572, Oct. 26, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s claims that requiring him to change linens and move cells on the Sabbath, denying him an appropriate place to worship, and failing to classify Biblical Christianity as an independent religion violated RLUIPA. Plaintiff was however allowed to proceed on his First Amendment and state law challenges to these practices and his RLUIPA challenge to the grooming policy.

In Shaw v. Upton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26575 (SD GA, March 2, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s claim that he was deliberately transferred to another facility to deny him access to a religious vegan diet.

In Tyler v. Lassiter, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27161 (ED NC, March 3, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court held that a Jewish inmate’s religious exercise was not substantially burdened when for disciplinary reasons he was placed on a vegetarian nutraloaf diet for one week instead of receiving his kosher meals.

In Johnson v. Lewis, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27169 (WD NC, March 3, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court rejected a Hebrew Israelite inmate’s complaints about the kosher diet he was receiving.

In Stiles v. Cook, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27281 (WD NC, March 3, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a suit by a Native American inmate complaining that his “Indian prayer” materials were confiscated.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 4, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Dunn v. Catoe, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22252 (ED TX, Feb. 23, 2016), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23148, Jan. 15, 2016) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints about policies requiring an outside volunteer at religious services, gang members infiltrating Muslim religious meetings, insufficient food when lock downs occur during Ramadan, and denial of the right to wear a beard.

In Vincent v. Stewart, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23304 (WD WA, Feb. 25, 2016), a Washington federal magistrate judge held that unless a proper amendment is filed, she would dismiss a complaint by a Hare Krshna inmate that he has been unable to obtain fresh milk as part of his diet as required by his religious beliefs.

In Todd v. California Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23338 (ED CA, Feb. 24, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be permitted to proceed with free exercise, Establishment Clause and equal protection claims stemming from refusal to recognize Creativity as a religion, denial of a religious diet and banning of the Holy Books of Creativity.

In Fernandez-Torres v. Watts, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23964 (SD GA, Feb. 26. 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to have Santeria Bead Necklaces sent to him by his “spiritual family,” and could only obtain them from an approved vendor.

In Thody v. Ives, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24092 (CD CA, Feb. 25, 2016), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24095, Jan. 5, 2016) and dismissed as not congnizable in a habeas corpus action an inmate’s complaint that members of their non-Judaist, Messianic, Sabbitarian, Zionist belief group have been denied the right to assemble, teach and practice their religion.

In Schlemm v. Wall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24332 (WD WI, Feb. 29, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court held that because of disputed issues of material fact, the case should proceed to trial on claims that an inmate’s RLUIPA rights were infringed when he not permitted to serve venison during the annual Native American Ghost Feast; and was prevented from wearing a multicolored bandana while praying or meditating in his cell and during group religious ceremonies.

In Monroe v. Walker, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24475 (D NV, Feb. 26, 2016), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24474, Jan. 11, 2016) and allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed against one of the defendants on his complaint that he was admonished for wearing his religiously approved Kufi and was treated differently than similarly situated Jewish inmates.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 29, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Shehee v. Ahlin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22708 (ED CA, Feb. 24, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by a Hindu civil detainee that he was denied his religious vegan diet.

In Perez v. Watts, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20497 (SD GA, Feb. 19, 2016), a Georgia federal district court adopted (as supplemented by the court) a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173384, Dec. 31, 2015) and dismissed monetary damage claims brought by a Santeria inmate claiming interference with his ability to practice his religion. (See prior related posting.)

In Powell v. Morris, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20971 (D MS, Feb. 22, 2016), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not provided halal meals or Taleem study classes.

In Blalock v. Jacobsen, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21168 (SD NY, Feb. 22, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint about limits on his ability to have has prison-issued pants shortened to comply with religious principles.

In Avery v. Elia, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21367 (ED CA, Feb. 19, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing the complaint of a Wiccan inmate that he was not permitted to ceremonially burn wood in a fire pit.

In Cary v. Robinson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20876 (WD MI, Feb. 22, 2016), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21810, Feb. 2, 2016)  and permitted a Native American inmate to move ahead with his free exercise and equal protection challenges to confiscation and desecration of his medicine bag.

In Johnson v. Brown, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20929 (ND AL, Feb. 22, 2016), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21916, Feb. 1, 2016) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding limitation of Sunnah inmates’ access to the “Masjid” classroom and occasional interruption of religious services.

In Ramos v. Department of Corrections, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22311 (D CT, Feb. 24, 2016), a Connecticut federal district court allowed an inmate who is a member of the Santeria religion to move ahead with his complaint that his free exercise and equal protection rights were infringed when he was not allowed to possess tarot cards to practice his religion.

In Cruz v. Collins, 2016 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 194 (MA App., Feb. 25, 2016), a Massachusetts state appeals court reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a RLUIPA claim by a Nation of Islam inmate challenging limits on his access to  use classroom space to pray and study throughout the week.

In Hays v. Helder, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23093 (WD AR, Feb. 25, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed (partly on res judicata grounds) a complaint by a member of the Cherokee Indian faith that he was denied access to his medicine bag.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 22, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mu’min v. Wingard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18479 (WD PA, Feb. 16, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied the use of his legal religious name by the religious librarian.

In Simmons v. Upton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18421 (SD GA, Feb. 16, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s  complaint that the new inmate religious practices policy violated his free exercise rights.

In Watson v. Pressley, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17355 (D SC, Feb. 11, 2016), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17994, Jan. 21, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaints about restrictions on various of his Muslim religious practices.

In Hilson v. Beaury, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19844 (ND NY, Feb. 17, 2016), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint over delay in processing his request to change his religion from Protestant to Muslim.

In Clark v. Davis, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19971 (ND CA, Feb.17, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed allowed an inmate’s complaint regarding prior prison rules on confidentiality of clergy relationships with death row inmates.

In Trapani v. Pullen, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20500 (ND NY, Feb. 17, 2016), a New York federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was deprived of kosher meals for a two week period.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 15, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Gupton v. Wright, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14730 (WD VA, Feb. 6, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that authorities denied publications and holiday packages to Asatru inmates.

In Sands v. Smith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15200 (ED CA, Feb. 5, 2016, a California federal magistrate judge allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his free exercise and retaliation complaints regarding failure to provide kosher food and Jewish religious services on many occasions.

In Edwards v. Rubenstein, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15236 (ND WV, Feb. 9, 2016), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15237, Jan. 20, 2016) and dismissed complaints of a Muslim inmate about treatment of Muslims less favorably than Christians, and about a now-modified ban on growing beards.

In Irvin v. Yates, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15272 (ED CA, Feb. 8, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be permitted to move ahead with his complaints about a new halal religious diet program, access to chapel and denial of packages containing religious items.

In Amos v. Karol, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15354 (ED MO, Feb. 9, 2016), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not provided halal meals, was not allowed to possess a prayer rug or hardback Qu’ran, and was not given access to an Imam.

In McDaniels v. Stewart, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15843 (WD WA, Feb. 8, 2016), a Washington federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a suit by a Muslim inmate against of 40 defendants seeking compensatory damages and over $27 million in punitive damages alleging inadequacy of the halal diet and his inability to go back on it after switching to a vegan diet.

In Rodriguez v. Hubbard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16432 (ED CA, Feb. 9, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing without prejudice for failure to exhaust internal remedies the complaints by a Native American inmate regarding lack of religious services, confiscation of his sacred pipe, sweat lodge access, ceremonial tobacco use, and lack of access to a Native American spiritual advisor, as well as retaliation and lack of protection claims.

In Casey v. Stephens, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16976 (SD TX, Feb. 9, 2016), a Texas federal district court dismissed a suit by a Native American inmate seeking the right to grow his hair long or wear a kouplock; wear a medicine bag; and keep and smoke a personal prayer pipe.

In Chaparro v. Ducart, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17780 (ND CA, Feb. 8, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed a suit by a Jehovah’s Witness inmate complaining about the prison’s former policy of denying an inmate the right to attend religious services for a month if the inmate missed without a valid reason a service he was scheduled to attend.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 8, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Muhammad v. Virginia, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11153 (WD VA, Feb. 1, 2016), a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that the common fare diet does not comply with his religious beliefs and that if he elected to receive the common fare diet during Ramadan, he would not be allowed to receive special food for the Eid feasts. The magistrate also rejected his contention that Eid ul-Fitr was celebrated on the wrong date.

In Gomez v. Gipson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11634 (ED CA, Feb. 1, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Native American inmate who alleged that authorities limited sweat lodge ceremonies to once a month, without a spiritual adviser, in retaliation for his filing an inmate grievance.

In Isakhanova v. Muniz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11663 (ND CA, Jan. 29, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a suit by the mother of an inmate who was allegedly mistreated when she came to visit her son in prison. The court dismissed with leave to amend her complaint that correctional officers made derogatory remarks about her Muslim religion while they temporarily held her on suspicion she had passed tobacco to her son.

In Lashley v. Sposato, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12165 (ED NY, Feb. 2, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge  recommended allowing a Muslim woman, a former inmate, to file an amended complaint alleging that she was required to spend 11 days in lock down and denied access to legal documents for refusing to remove her Khimar.

In Holcomb v. Kramer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10557 (D SC, Jan. 29, 2016), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12303, Jan. 6, 2016) and dismissed a claim by an inmate (a rabbi) that his kosher diet requirements were not adequately accommodated.

In Mitchell v. Staten, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12930 (SD GA, Feb. 3, 2016), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13712, Jan. 4, 2016) and permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his claim for an injunction and nominal damages growing out of his complaint that his Qur’an was taken during a search of his jail cell and has not been returned to him.

In Searcy v. Macomb County Jail, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13905 (ED MI, Jan. 14, 2016), a Michigan federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claim that the jail offered no books, services, advice, or counseling for Jewish inmates.

In United States v. Cohee, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14224 (D KS, Feb. 5, 2016), a Kansas federal district court rejected the claim by a convicted sexual offender who was on supervised release that his free exercise rights were violated because he has “the right to be judged by God and not by man.”

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 1, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mauwee v. Olivas, (9th Cir., Jan. 27, 2016), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a complaint by a Native American inmate that for five months he was deprived of deer antlers used for sweat lodge ceremonies.

In Terry v. Babcock, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6073 (CD CA, Jan. 19, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a Jehovah’s Witness inmate’s complaint that he was forced to attend an educational class that violated his beliefs. Plaintiff had asserted that his religious beliefs preclude him from being “a part of any educational class/program which does not include worship, and the timeless teachings of the Creator.”

In San Antonio v. Shipman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8209 (ND FL, Jan. 25, 2016), a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175229, Dec. 18, 2015) and dismissed as moot an inmate’s RLUIPA complaint over his removal from the faith-based dormitory. The court dismissed, with leave to amend, plaintiff’s 1st Amendment claim.

In Tatum v. Meisner, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8642 (WD WI, Jan. 26, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with this claim under RLUIPA that authorities had denied his request for a diet that complies with Nation of Islam rules.

In Moseley v. Spencer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10232 (D MA, Jan. 27, 2016), a Massachusetts federal district court ordered an inmate to file an amended complaint or else face dismissal of his complaint that he was forced to choose between his religious (kosher) diet and his medical diet involving an evening snack for diabetes. He also complained that he has not been provided proper food and other items to celebrate Passover.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 18, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Payne v. Doe, (3d Cir., Jan. 7, 2016), a Muslim inmate complained that authorities refused to deliver him a late meal tray during Ramadan that eliminted foods to which he was allergic.  The court affirmed the district court’s holding that plaintiff had enough alternatives (e.g. getting his therapeutic tray early and holding it until later) that there was no 1st Amendment violation.  However it remanded plaintiff’s RLUIPA claim in light of the Supreme Court’s intervening decision in Holt v. Hobbs.

In Lofton v. Williams, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3195 (SD GA, Jan. 11, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge permitted an inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was placed by the warden in the more restrictive Tier II program because he is a Muslim. He was also given leave to amend his complaint regarding alleged strip searching and confiscation of his religious materials because of his faith.

In Harris v. Lake County, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3247 (ND CA, Jan 11, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claims that his religious rights were infringed when he was denied use of marijuana for medical or spiritual reasons.

In Huston v. Smith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3342 (ND IA, Jan. 11, 2016), an Iowa federal district court rejected a habeas petition holding that civilly committing petitioner for sexually-motivated harassment was reasonable even if petitioner believed that committing him instead of forgiving him was contrary to his religious beliefs.

In Johnson v. Roskosci, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3403 (MD PA, Jan. 12, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court vacated a default judgment that had been entered against a corrections officer in a suit by an inmate who complained that his necklace of “religious cultural tribal beads” was illegally seized.

In Floyd v. Williams, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3615 (SD GA, Jan 12, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be permitted to proceed with claims for nominal damages and injunctive relief on his complaint that he was denied a chance to participate in the Eid al-Fitr feast.

In Quezada v. Cate, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4357 (ED CA, Jan. 12, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate who was an adherent of the House of Yahweh be permitted to proceed with his complaint that his kosher meals were terminated because he was not Jewish.

In Robinson v. Cate, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4981 (ED CA, Jan. 14, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended denying a preliminary injunction to a Muslim inmate who is litigating his right to a fully Halal diet.

In Crouch v. Wooley, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5397 (SD IL, Jan. 14, 2016), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied post-sunset meals for 16 days during Ramadan.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 11, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Thompson v. Holm, (7th Cir., Jan 4, 2016), the 7th Circuit, reversing the district court, ruled that withholding a Muslim inmate’s meal bags for two days during Ramadan constituted a substantial burden on his free exercise rights. The court, also rejecting several other defenses, urged the district court to appoint counsel for plaintiff on remand.

In Rosales v. Watts, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 267 (SD GA, Jan 4, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that  an inmate be allowed to proceed with many of his claims alleging that prison authorities truncated the “Spiritual Mass” ceremony for Santeria practitioners and refused to order Santeria supplies including bead necklaces with Ache.

In Michaels v. West, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1826 (ND WV, Jan. 7, 2016), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174184, Nov. 25, 2015) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that he was denied the vegetarian diet required by his Asatru religious beliefs.

In Todd v. CDCR, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1944 (ED CA, Jan. 7, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that, consistent with a remand from the 9th Circuit, the complaint by an inmate who was a minister in the White supremacist Creativity religion move ahead.  Plaintiff complains about confiscation of religious material, failure to provide a fruitarian (or acceptable alternative kosher diet), placing of the Holy Books of Creativity on the banned list, and refusal to recognize Creativity as a religion.

In Young v. Rodriguez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1965 (ED  CA, Jan. 7, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Rastafarian inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to wear his religiously required head covering– a crown– into the health care facility visiting room.

In Rezaq v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2288 (SD IL, Jan. 8, 2016), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed under RFRA (but not under the 1st Amendment) complaining that prison authorities did not have a pre-dawn morning pill line during Ramadan.

In Wallace v. Mayfield, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1137 (ED AR, Jan. 6, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174100, Dec. 14, 2015) and denied a preliminary injunction to an inmate who claimed his free exercise rights were infringed when he was forced to shave his beard and cut his hair. Plaintiff sought to enjoin retaliation for filing the lawsuit.

In Coleman v. Lincoln Parish Detention Center, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2633 (WD LA, Jan. 7, 2016) a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174236, Dec. 7, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied the right to participate in weekly Jummah services and when he filed a grievance was transferred to another facility.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 4, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Harvey v. Gonzalez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172056 (D CO, Dec. 28, 2015), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172057, Nov. 24, 2015) and permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with this complaint that his copy of the Qur’an was confiscated and he was refused a replacement copy.

In Hill v. Gramiak, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172150 (SD GA, Dec. 28, 2015), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended permitting a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with complaints that the mail room refused to deliver religious literature sent to him, while prisoners of other faiths could receive a Bible or a Qur’an.

In Wagner v. Worsham, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172704 (ED MO, Dec. 29, 2015), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a Mormon inmate’s complaint that prison authorities classify the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a General Christian group, instead of giving it a separate category.

In Hoskins v. Red Onion State Prison, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173107 (WD VA, Dec. 30, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaints that there was a delay in delivering religious materials mailed to him, that the prison does not provide Jewish or Messianic Jewish services, and the chaplain did not provide him with a number of religious items he requested.

In Perez v. Watts, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173384 (SD GA, Dec. 31, 2015), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate to move ahead (except on certain damage claims) on his complaint that prison authorities truncated the “Spiritual Mass” ceremony for Santeria practitioners by not allowing each individual a half cut cigar, and authorities refused to order Santeria supplies including bead necklaces with Ache.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 28, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Artus, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170473 (ND NY, Dec. 22, 2015), a New York federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s claim for injunctive and declaratory relief against the prison’s ban on engaging in demonstrative prayer in the prison yard during recreation period.

In Chesser v. Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170661 (D CO, Dec. 22, 2015), a Colorado federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claims that the prison policy of housing Muslims with ties to terrorism in long term solitary confinement solely because of these ties violates RFRA and that his conditions of confinement violate RFRA.

In Williams v. Valazair, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171559 (WD OK, Dec. 22, 2015), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171325, Nov. 9, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied a common fare meal tray during a 4-day time span, apparently because the list had not been updated to include him.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 21, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Muhudin v. Wegener, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166954 (D CO, Dec. 14, 2015), a Muslim inmate alleged that he was denied a halal diet.  A federal magistrate judge ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint within 30 days that corrects a number of pleading defects.

In Boyce v. McKnight, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167197 (ND IL, Dec. 15, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed against one a correctional officer who the inmate claimed pepper sprayed him in retaliation for the inmate’s exercise of religion.

In In re Jaynes, 88 Mass. App. Ct. 745 (MA App., Dec. 16, 2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld a probate court’s denial of a Wiccan inmate’s petition to change his name for religious reasons, in light of the inmate’s history of using multiple aliases. Boston Herald reports on the decision.

In Bennett v. Turner, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167874 (ND IA, Dec. 16, 2015), an Iowa federal district court gave an inmate 30 days to file an amended complaint alleging that removing all churches from the list of numbers he could call substantially burdened his free exercise of religion.

In Torres v. Aramark Food & Commissary Services, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168188 (SD NY, Dec. 16, 2015), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint under the free exercise clause that the nutritional inadequacy of the Ramadan meals, combined with the inability to supplement the meals with food from the commissary, forced him to switch from the Ramadan diet.

In Johnson v. Poupore, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168837 (ND N Y, Dec. 16, 2015), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that authorities confiscated his gold cross and chain and would not allow him to designate his religion as both Nation of Islam and Catholic under rules that allow only one designated religion at a time. He attempted to add the Catholic designation in order to be allowed to recover his gold cross.

In Boykins v. Lanigan, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169293 (D NJ, Dec. 16, 2015), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to obtain prayer oil from a third-party vendor instead of the prison chaplain.

In Moore v. Katavich, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169634 (ED CA, Dec. 18, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on three separate days the prison kitchen staff served him a vegetarian diet instead of his Halal diet.

In Fox v. Magana, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167571 (ED NC, Dec. 14, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court permitted a female inmate to move ahead with her complaint that she is not given adequate time to practice her religion and is not permitted to conduct worship services outside while other fiaths are permitted to do so.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 14, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Milum v. State, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 12571 (TX App., Dec. 10, 2015), a Texas state appeals court rejected a claim by a defendant in a child sexual assault case that he had ineffective assistance of counsel when his lawyer failed to object to a condition of community supervision that allowed him to enter a church, synagogue or other house of worship only to attend a public service.

In Hughes v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165938 (ND IL, Dec. 11, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed against prison officials on his claim that restrictions on religious exercise imposed while he was in segregated housing for possessing contraband violated his free exercise rights.  While in segregated housing, he was not permitted to attend religious services in person or visit with clergy, and was allowed to view only one denomination’s services on closed circuit television.

In Alderson v. Kelley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166272 (ED AR, Dec. 11, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166274, Nov. 17, 2015) and allowed an inmate to move ahead on his complaint that the prison warden is not properly implementing the Department of Corrections grooming policy that allows a prisoner to wear a beard where required by the inmate’s sincerely held religious belief.

In Isaac v. Pruette, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166432 (ED VA, Dec. 10, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was initially not added to the list for attending Jummah services, that two Jummah services were canceled, and that he was not furnished a religious diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 7, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Cowart v. LaCasse, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158333 (D SC, Nov. 24, 2015), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158593, Oct. 26, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that  he believed the Common Fare diet which was marked kosher was in fact not kosher.

In Carpenter v. Extendicare Health Services, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159876 D MN, Nov. 30, 2015), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160141, Oct. 26, 2015) and dismissed on various grounds12 claims, including a free exercise claim, against a private nursing home that incorrectly believed plaintiff was the subject of a court order barring him from release.  The court found no state action.

In Farfan v. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160086 (SD FL, Nov. 24, 2015), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended rejecting the claim by a federal inmate that her 144 month sentence for cocaine distribution violates RFRA because “she sincerely believes that God requires her to be at home with her family in order to properly observe holidays and rituals associated with her Catholic faith.” The court responded in part: “The RFRA was enacted to encourage and protect free exercise of religion, even in a prison context. But it was never intended to be a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

In McKnight v. MTC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160398 (ND TX, Nov. 30, 2015), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160775, Nov. 9, 2015), and dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise and RLUIPA rights were infringed by housing him with a homosexual inmate.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 30, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Woods v. McClure, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158973 (ED TX, Nov. 24, 2015), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159291, Sept. 30, 2015) and dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to properly celebrate the Rastafarian holy day, the birthday of Haile Selassie.

In Trapp v. Roden, (MA Sup. Jud. Ct., Nov. 23, 2015), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the closure of a Wampanoag Tribal sweat lodge at a Massachusetts prison facility, purportedly because of health concerns over the smoke it produced, violated RLUIPA as well as a 2003 settlement agreement. MassLive reports on the decision.

PennLive reports that on Tuesday, a Middle District of Pennsylvania federal district court judge, in a case on remand from the 3rd Circuit ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to comply with a June settlement agreement that requires Camp Hill prison authorities to allow Christian inmates 30 minutes of fellowship and group prayer in the dining hall on Christmas after the mainline Christmas dinner has been served and other prisoners have left.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 22, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In In re Pima County Mental Health No. MH64461112, 2015 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1364 (AZ App., Nov. 10, 2015), an Arizona appeals court rejected appellant’s claim that because she was receiving treatment in accordance with the tenets of Scientology the trial court should not have ordered her to continue to receive court-ordered mental health treatment.

In Schlemm v. Wall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155714 (WD WI, Nov. 18, 2015). a Wisconsin federal district court refused to allow a Native American inmate to amend his complaint to add a claim for damages, and ordered the case to proceed only as to declaratory and injunctive relief under RLUIPA as to plaintiff’s complaint regarding venison for use during the Navajo Tribe Ghost Feast and wearing a multi-colored headband while praying in his cell and during group religious ceremonies.

In Brown v. Major, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155632 (D SC, Nov. 18, 2015), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155804, Oct. 30, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied a Kosher diet, the opportunity to pray in common areas, and a Quran.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 16, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wolcott v. Board of Rabbis, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151861 (ED CA, Nov. 6, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted by Jewish chaplains to convert to Judaism because he was serving a life sentence.

In Womack v. Perry, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152588 (ED CA, Nov.10, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s general complaint that the warden has denied inmates in C-yard Friday services for the past 8 months.

In Atkinson v. MacKinnon, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153033 (WD WI, Nov. 12, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that retaliatory action (reducing his prison job grade and hours) was taken when he complained of religious harassment.  The court held that plaintiff had no more administrative remedies because the warden had promised to investigate his claim.

In Spears v. Curcillo, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153320 (MD PA, Nov. 12, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his Bible was confiscated when he was moved into the Restricted Housing Unit.

In Holcomb v. Quinn, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153572 (D SC, Nov. 12, 2015), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153789, Oct. 21, 2015), and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that the free exercise rights of a 3A Qabalah group were infringed when a corrections officer required them to remove the strings they wore on their left wrists.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 9, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Harris v. Cabe, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148843 (ND MI, Nov. 3, 2015), a Mississippi federal district court dismissed, for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied permission to attend religious services.

In Shabazz v. Giurbino, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149002 (ED CA, Nov. 2, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead against two defendants with his complaint that Muslims were served vegetarian meals for breakfast and lunch, and a Halal meal only for dinner.  Three defendants were dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

In Dunn v. Catoe, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149146 (Nov. 3, 2015), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149436, Oct. 16, 2015)  and permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint about the policy that requires an outside volunteer before inmates can hold religious meetings, and his complaints over gang infiltration of religious meetings and insufficient food during Ramadan.

In Muniz-Savage v. Addison, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151202 (WD OK, Nov. 6, 2015) dismissed a suit by the daughter and by the former wife of an inmate who were denied rights to visit the inmate.  The daughter was the victim of her father’s sex crimes.  Among the arguments rejected were that their free exercise rights were infringed because their religious beliefs required that the daughter receive blessings from her father.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 2, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Johnson v. Pritchard, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144822 (MD TN, Oct. 26, 2015), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended concluding that a Muslim inmate’s exercise of religion was not substantially burdened when he was denied a special food tray at the Eid ul-Fitr feast because he could not afford to pay for it.

In Brame v. Vaughn, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146113 (SD IL, Oct. 28, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his claim that the prison chaplain refused to add him to the Passover Commemoration and refused his request for a kosher diet, in retaliation for plaintiff’s previous filing of a lawsuit.

In Tucker v. Livingston, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146482 (ED TX, Oct. 28, 2015), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146731, Oct. 7, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that authorities did not permit members of Nation of Gods and Earth to congregate separately for religious services. The court found that this is the least restrictive means of preventing NOGE from spreading their supremacist views that promote hate crimes and violence.

In Hunter v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147643 (SD GA, Oct. 30, 2015), a Georgia federal magistrate judge ordered defendant to provide a more adequate response in discovery to an inmate’s request for admission that defendant forces plaintiff to participate in Christianity through mandatory group sessions.

In Cejas v. Brown, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147695 (SD CA, Oct. 30, 2015), a California federal district court permitted a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his claim that he has not been provided adequate accommodations to properly practice his faith, including access to a chaplain.

In Yah’Torah v. Hicks, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147755 (D NJ, Oct. 29, 2015), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed a pre-trial detainee’s complaint regarding restrictions on reordering fragrant oils for religious purposes, finding that plaintiff had not shown a sincerely held religious belief.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 26, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Barnes v. Furman, (2d Cir., Oct. 22, 2015), the 2nd Circuit upheld a prison’s prior policy of limiting kosher meals to Jewish inmates (and denying them to Hebrew Israelites) and dismissed as moot a complaint regarding seizure of an inmate’s religious head covering because he had now changed his religious designation to Protestant.  At the time, the head covering he wore (a Tsalot‐
Kob) was limited by prison rules to Rastafarians.

In King v. Barr, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141454 (WD VA, Oct. 19, 2015), a Virginia federal district court held that a Muslim inmate failed to show that jail officials denied his classification to Phase III privileges because of his beard.

In Jones v. Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142142 (WD VA, Oct. 20, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that authorities refused to provide vegan Ramadan meals.

In Burroughs v. Petrone, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142732 ND NY, Oct. 15, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s vague complaints regarding removal from the religious service call-out sheet, confiscation of religious material, substitution of a Bible for the Qur’an and discarding of religious food.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 12, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Christian Separatist Church Societyy of Ohio v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134125 (SD OH, Oct. 1, 2015), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended allowing various individual inmates to proceed with their complaint that by having only one recognized Protestant organization, prison officials have infringed their free exercise rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA. Plaintiffs claim their separatist beliefs are theologically distinct and inimical to those of the recognized group. However the church itself lacks standing to bring a RLUIPA claim. Various other claims were also recommended for dismissal.

In Aragon v. Erlanger, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134656 (D CO, Oct. 1, 2015), a Colorado federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96185, July 23, 2015), a Colorado federal district court dismissed complaints by a Messianic Jewish inmate regarding the preparation of kosher food and date for observing Passover.

In Etterson v. Newcome, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135670 (ED VA,Oct. 5, 2015). a Virginia federal district court allowed a former inmate to move ahead with his 1st Amendment damages claim for having been wrongly taken off the Ramadan menu.

In Ishmael v. Oregon Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136071 (D. OR, Oct. 6, 2015), an Oregon federal district court dismissed a suit by an African Hebrew Israelite of Jerusalem inmate who complained that he was not allowed to use his religious name on mail and correspondence.

In Holmes v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137388 (ND IL, Oct. 8, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed inmates to move ahead with a class action complaining, among other things, that the free exercise and RLUIPA rights of hearing impaired inmates are infringed by inadequate accommodation at religious services.

In Barrett v. Peters, 2015 Ore. App. LEXIS 1203 (OR App., Oct. 7, 2015), an Oregon appellate court allowed an Oregon inmate incarcerated in Florida under the Interstate Corrections Compact to move ahead with his habeas corpus action complaining that he is not allowed to wear the “Celtic tonsure” hair style required by his Glefiosa religion in violation of the Oregon Constitution.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 8, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Utt v. Brown, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131347 (ED NC, Sept. 29, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court permitted a Wiccan inmate to move ahead with his free exercise claims regarding corporate worship, feast participation, and practice of his religion outside of the areas specifically designated for religious worship.  The case was referred for a settlement conference.

In Hatcher v. Roller, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131192 (ED TN, Sept. 28, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed an inmate’s request for a place of solitary and silence in the prison for him to pray to his God “alone and in peace.”

In Goode v. Farrell, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132208 (ED PA, Sept. 30, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a complaint by a pre-trial detainee seeking to stop officials from using space previously designated for Muslim religious services as a clothing storage space.

In Thomas v. Waugh, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132308 (ND NY, Sept. 30, 2015), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133859, July 24, 2015) and allowed a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was barred from wearing a larger head covering than the typical Jewish yarmulke. He claims the standard-size yarmulke will not fit over his hair.

In Suggs v. Maxymillian, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132300 (ND NY, Sept. 30, 2015), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133443, Sept. 14, 2015) and allowed Sexual Offender Treatment Program detainees to move forward on claims by a Muslim and by a follower of Neopaganism that they face limitations on their ability to practice their religions and gain access to appropriate clergy.

In Lopez v. Cipolini, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133799 (SD NY, Sept. 30, 2015), a New York federal district court held that an inmate adequately stated an equal protection claim in her complaint that a corrections official prevented her from attending the two religious services because of her hair and because of her sexuality. The court dismissed plaintiff’s free exercise claim without prejudice.

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 5, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Welch v. Spaulding, (6th Cir., Sept. 30, 2015), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision affirmed the district court’s denial of qualified immunity to prison food service officials who are being sued by a Muslim inmate who claims that his Ramadan meals lacked sufficient caloric value.

In Merrick v. Ryan, 2015 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1173 (AZ App., Sept. 24, 2015), an Arizona appeals court dismissed an inmate’s suit claiming he was denied religious materials and practices. The suit asserting state law claims failed to name the state as a defendant.

In Moon v. Garcia, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129291 (SD IL, Sept. 25, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted plaintiff, a former federal inmate, to proceed with his claim that authorities created a plan to disrupt authorized religious activities of Muslim inmates.

In Grayson v. Goetting, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129290 (SD IL, Sept. 25, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted an African Hebrew Israelite inmate who had taken the Nazirite vow to proceed with his complaint that he was forced to remove his dreadlocks.

In Hudson v. Spencer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129304 (D MA, Sept. 25, 2015), in a suit by Nation of Islam inmates, a Massachusetts federal district court ordered correctional authorities to  provide plaintiffs access to televised recordings of Jumu’ah services led by an appropriate chaplain whenever an NOI chaplain is unavailable to lead services in person. However the court dismissed complaints about failure to accommodate various other NOI practices relating to fasting and feast sessions, religious attire and “spiritual drilling.”

In Dicks v. Shearin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129824 (D MD, Sept. 28, 2015), a Maryland federal district court held that a Muslim inmate’s rights may have been infringed when the former warden failed to follow a Department of Corrections policy that assured Muslim inmates fasting during Ramadan received the same caloric intake as non-fasting prisoners.

In Ramadan v. FBOP, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129845 (SD WV, Sept. 28, 2015), a West Virginia federal district court rejected a Muslim inmate’s challenge to the policy of barring congregational prayer, and his complaint that he was prevented for a period of time from bringing a copy of the Noble Quran into the chapel.

In Johnson v. Swibas, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130379 (D CO, Sept. 28, 2015), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and allowed an inmate to move ahead certain of the defendants with his complaint that he was denied access to kosher meals to which he is not allergic.

In Woodward v. Ali, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130687 (ND NY, Sept. 29, 2015), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and denied summary judgment to a Muslim inmate on his complaint that he was removed from the Ramadan meal list.

In Elmore v. Herring, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131348 (ED NC, Sept. 29, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed complaints by a Muslim inmate regarding a prison’s post-chapel strip-search policy, his allegations that Christian inmates are allowed more services and furnished more resources than Muslim inmates, and his complaint regarding the absence of a Halal diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 28, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Thomas v. Morris, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125911 (ED WI, Sept. 21, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that certain jail officials refused to honor his food requests relating to Passover 2015.

In Thomas v. Lawler, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126135 (MD PA Sept. 22, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints that the multi-faith chapel contains offensive religious iconography; he is unable to pray shoulder to shoulder with other Muslims due to inadequate space; he is unable clean himself prior to religious services; and the chapel’s location up 4 flights of steps often means he cannot attend prayer services because his health prevents his climbing stairs,

In Gee v. Sabol, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126872 (MD PA, Sept 22, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court rejected an inmate’s complaint that he was denied kosher meals, finding he had not established that he has a sincere religious belief in Judaism.

In Denegal v. Brazelton, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126982 (ED CA, Sept. 22, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to move ahead against one of the defendants on his complaint that he was denied his right to a name change for religious reasons.

In Karafili v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127094 (ND CA, Sept. 22, 2015), a California federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim group prayer was disrupted one day even though Muslim inmates had received permission to pray in groups of up to 15.

In Bouman v. Broome, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127555 (SD MS, Sept. 23, 2015), a Mississippi federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint seeking $9 million in damages for violation of  his free exercise rights when he was disciplined for taking his Passover meal out of the dining area into his cell.

In Stinski v. Chatman, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128061 (MD GA, Sept. 24, 2015), a Georgia federal district court, adopting in part a magistrate’s recommendations, allowed a Wiccan inmate to move forward against various defendants with complaints involving denial of religious items and observances, and complaints as to forced shaving and haircut.

In Begnoche v. DeRose, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128633 (MD PA, Sept. 24, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed complaints by a Native American inmate regarding availability of a Native American spiritual adviser and celebration of the Green Corn Feast.

In Webb v. Broyles, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128784 (WD VA, Sept. 24, 2015), a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he was wrongly removed from the Common Fare diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 07, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brinkman v. Linderman, (9th Cir., Sept. 3, 2015), the 9th Circuit affirmed an Arizona district court’s dismissal of complaints by an inmate that he was denied a private worship area and ceremonial foods and was not allowed to use an open flame during certain religious ceremonies.

In Atkins v. Maryland Division of Correction, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114932, (D MD, Aug. 24, 2015), a Maryland federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his RLUIPA claim for declaratory relief and his free exercise claim against the chaplain for denying him kosher meals for 29 months.

In Twigg v. PrimeCare Medical, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115169 (MD PA, Aug. 31, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that inadequate medical treatment violated not just his 8th Amendment rights, but also his free exercise rights when gastrointestinal pain made it impossible for him to attend religious services.

In Clay v. Livingston, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115702 (ND CA, Aug. 31, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint by a Muslim inmate who wanted lunch each day in addition to the Ramadan menu.  For the first 9 days he was not provided lunch.

In Frazier v. June, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116699 (D SC, Sept. 2, 2015), a South Carolina federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when his Bible was confiscated because of a limit on the number of books an inmate may have in his cell.

In Moon v. Samuels, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117092 (SD IL, Sept. 2, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that prison officials prohibited Muslim prisoners from engaging in group prayer, while permitting inmates of other faiths to do so.

In Moon v. Walton, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117660 (SD IL, Sept. 3, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that prison policy barred Muslim inmates from rolling up or cuffing the legs of their pants as called for by Muslim doctrine.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 20, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Finley v. Nevada ex rel. Nevada Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122165 (D NV, Sept. 14, 2015), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122167, (May 27, 2015), and dismissed complaints by African American Hebrew Israelite inmates that they were switched from the pre-packaged kosher meal program to the kosher common fare diet.

In Cole v. Danberg, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122373 (D DE, Sept. 15, 2015) a Delaware federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s objections to a ban on charitable fundraising and institutional accounts; his claim that Muslim inmates are prevented from attending Friday services at the proper time and are not given equal time as other religious groups to conduct services; and the failure to furnish a Muslim inmate clerk and a typewriter. However the court permitted plaintiff to move ahead with has complaint that congregational prayer was banned and a Halal diet was not available.

In Walker v. Scott, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122467 (CD IL, Sept. 15, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed a civilly committed Muslim inmate to move to trial on his complaint that he was denied a Halal or kosher diet and required to choose either the standard or vegetarian diet.

In Ellis v. Avery Mitchell Correctional, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122679 (WD NC, Sept. 15, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court gave plaintiff inmate 20 days to submit evidence that he exhausted administrative remedies in seeking a vegan diet for religious reasons.

In Watkins v. Jones, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123648 (ND FL, Sept. 15, 2015), a Florida federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123647, Aug. 28, 2015) in a suit by a Muslim inmate and ordered prison officials to make kosher or other religiously acceptable meals available to plaintiff. The court dismissed as moot plaintiff’s objection to prior rules barring his quarter-inch beard and dismissed his complaint that there were not separate Sunni Muslim services.

In Munic v. Langan, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124662 (MD PA, Sept. 18, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to move ahead with is damage claims for denial of kosher meals, denial of visits with his rabbi, and denial of drug and alcohol treatment because of his religious beliefs.

In Damon v. Masters, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124754 (SD WV, Sept. 18, 2015), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed a complaint by a Nation of Islam inmate that his free exercise rights were infringed when kidney beans were substituted for navy beans at a religious ceremonial meal.

In Harvey v. Segura, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124998 (D CO, Sept. 17, 2015), a Muslim inmate complained that authorities confiscated his only kufi, while prison officials contended that they took a second kufi which he was not entitled to keep under prison regulations.  A Colorado federal district court, adopting a magistrate’s recommendation, dismissed the suit, but ordered officials to conduct a search of plaintiff’s personal property. If he has no kufi, one must be furnished to him. If he does have one, this is to be reported to the court so it can consider sanctions for frivolous litigation.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 30, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Aziz v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111862 (ND CA, Aug. 21, 2015), a California federal district court permitted inmates to move ahead with their complaint that correctional officers would not allow Muslim inmates to pray in groups larger than four, despite a contrary ruling by the Religious Review Committee.

In Sioleski v. Sullivan, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111827 (WD NY, Aug. 24, 2015), a New York federal district court denied an inmate’s motion for reconsideration of his previously dismissed complaint that on one occasion officials harassed him about his Native American hairstyle and placed him in keeplock for an hour while they decided whether his hairstyle complied with Department of Corrections rules.

In Peters v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113380, Charles v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113378, Cascen v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113379, and Blyden v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113377, (WD VA, Aug. 26, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed complaints by Rastafarian inmates who were housed in the Violators Housing Unit for violating grooming regulations that they was not allowed to participate in Rastafarian group religious services outside the VHU pod.  In Blyden the court dismissed the additional complaint that while Rastafarian services are now available in the VHU, they lack a spiritual leader or reading material.

In Salyers v. Blue, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114243 (WD KY, Aug. 27, 2015), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an Orthodox Christian inmate’s complaint that while in isolation for protective custody, he was not allowed to participate in group religious functions with other inmates.

In Greybuffalo v. Wall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114381 (WD WI, Aug. 28, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Native American inmate’s request to have religious feasts at the conclusion religious ceremonies.

In Bargo v. Kelley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114610 (ED AR, Aug. 28, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114614, Aug. 5, 2015) and permitted an inmate who is a practitioner of the Hindu Kriya/Raja Yoga to move ahead with his claim for injunctive relief. He is seeking use of the barracks day room and chapel, and a Yoga mat, to practice Yoga.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 23, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mitchell v. Daniels, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108599 (MD AL, Aug. 18, 2015), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed an inmate’s complaint about inadequate security to prevent desecration of the Native American ceremonial grounds.

In Green v. Fox, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109131 (CD CA, Aug. 17, 2015), a California federal district court dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s habeas corpus petition seeking release so he could obtain medical treatment from a Christian Science practitioner that he was denied in prison.

In Avery v. Paramo, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109127 (SD CA, Aug. 18, 2015), a California federal district court dismissed a Pagan-Wiccan inmate’s retaliation claim, but permitted him to proceed with his complaint regarding refusal to accommodate Pagan/ Wiccan/ Asatru practices by providing a fence perimeter, fire pit, water line, and herb cultivation, and by providing him a monthly supply of honey, nuts, dried fruit, trail mix and non-yeast crackers.

In Allah v. Christburg, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108590 (MD AL, Aug. 18, 2015), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109611, July 27, 2015), and dismissed a complaint by an inmate who complained that he was not permitted to observe Ramadan, participate in Muslim prayer services or receive a Qur’an, prayer rug or Islamic literature. The inmate had failed to specify his religious affiliation when he was booked into the facility.

In Hosey-Bey v. Williams, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109363 (MD AL, Aug. 19, 2015), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110146, July 30, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that defendant ordered the Sunday school service of the Moorish Science Temple of America closed down after only 10 to 13 minutes because of a shortage of officers for security for the chapel.

In Hoeck v. Miklich, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110921 (D CO, Aug. 20, 2015), a Colorado federal district court denied injunctive relief to an inmate who complained that he was not permitted to observe the holy days and diet of his Biblical Christian faith.

In Shabazz v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111210 (ND CA, Aug. 21, 2015) and Fadan v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111213 (ND CA, Aug. 21, 2015), a California federal district court permitted inmates to move ahead with their complaint that correctional officers would not allow Muslim inmates to pray in groups larger than four, despite a contrary ruling by the Religious Review Committee.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 16, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ahmorae v. Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105329 (MD TN, Aug. 11, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on one occasion during Ramadan he was not served dinner.

In Sousa v. Wegman, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105420 (ED CA, Aug. 11, 2015), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85208, June 29, 2015) and allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that  he was repeatedly denied attendance at religious services, holiday celebrations, use of the sweat lodge, and formal recognition for his Mexican Indian faith.

In Pelayo v. Hernandez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105521 (ED CA, Aug. 11, 2015), a California federal district court dismissed a Christian inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to bring his pocket Bible with him into the dining hall.

In Jaquez v. Birch, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105818 (ND OK, Aug. 12, 2015), an Oklahoma federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he had not been able to see or talk with the jail chaplain.

In Frazier v. Cooper, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106707 (WD PA, Aug. 13, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint by an inmate who is a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America that his religious practice was being limited.

In Saif’Ullah v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107490 and in Mohammad-Bey v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107510 (ND CA, Aug. 13, 2015), a California federal district court permitted inmates to move ahead with their complaint that correctional officers would not allow Muslim inmates to pray in groups larger than four, despite a contrary ruling by the Religious Review Committee.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 9, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Trueblood, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100636 (WD AR, July 31, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30546, Feb. 9, 2015) and dismissed the complaint of an inmate whose faith was black magic Voodoo that when Christian preachers from the community periodically visited the jail, they would conduct worship services and play recordings of Christian music in the prisoner pod, and his complaint that the chaplain refused to put books about death on the book cart.

In Hulbert v. Robinson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100700 (WD VA, July 31, 2015), a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Wiccan inmate’s complaint that the prison’s single-vendor policy and ban on direct in-kind donations denied him access to items he needed for Wiccan rituals.

In Evans v. Muniz, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101207 (ND CA, July 31, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not provided with Halal food for a period of 16 months.

In Abdullah v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101191 and in Alim v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101205 (ND CA, July 31, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that correctional officers had created an “underground rule” prohibiting SQSP Muslim prisoners from congregating in groups of more than four for daily prayers, and retaliated against him for filing a complaint about it.

In Al-Azim v. Everett, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101292 (ED VA, Aug. 3, 2015), a Virginia federal district court permitted various of the inmate plaintiffs to move ahead with complaints regarding refusal to provide a diet consistent with Nation of Islam teachings, refusing sufficient time of NOI prayer and classes and refusal to allow plaintiffs to purchase CDs of weekly sermons by Louis Farrakhan.

In Lilly v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 8142 (TX App., Aug. 4, 2015), a Texas state appeals court in a 2-1 decision affirmed the dismissal on statute of limitations grounds of a suit by an inmate who is a member of the House of Yahweh who was refused kosher meals.

In Quinn v. Management & Training Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101924 (SD MS, Aug. 4, 2015) a Mississippi federal district court reinstated an inmate’s complaint that officers would not allow him to claim Voodoo as his religion on prison paperwork.

In Larios v. United States Gov’t & His Religion, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103205 (ED NY, Aug. 5, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that  that his placement among the general prison population violated his rights under RFRA.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 2, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Shaw v. Toole, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97667 (SD GA, July 27, 2015), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied a vegan diet be dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit.

In Sokolsky v. California, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97738 (ED CA, July 25, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge held that a Jewish civil detainee held as a sexually violent predator can proceed on his complaint against certain defendants regarding the lack of kosher food and religious discrimination if he files an amended complaint or notifies the court that he is willing to proceed on his cognizable claims.

In Pickering v. California Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99137 (ED CA, July 28, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s claim that the Astru/Odinic religious group was not treated equally with other religious groups.

In Berry v. Hershberger, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99327 (D MD, July 30, 2015), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to participate in the Ramadan fast, and was denied access to religious articles, based on his status as a pretrial detainee.

In Washington v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, 2015 Ohio Misc. LEXIS 79 (OH Ct. Cl., July 14, 2015), the Ohio Court of Claims held that it does not have jurisdiction over an inmate’s complaint that he was denied halal/ kosher food.

In Williams v. Delaware, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99927 (D DE, July 30, 2015), a Delaware federal district court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint that while held for four days before posting bond– a period during Ramadan– he was not permitted to fast.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 26, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Littell v. Kennell, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93757 (CD IL, July 20, 2015), an Illinois federal district court held that a Muslim inmate stated a valid First Amendment claim alleging that Muslims were not permitted to congregate for prayer, but because he is no longer held by the Illinois Department of Corrections injunctive relief is not available; only nominal (and possibly punitive) damages are.

In Snodgrass v. Robinson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95026 (WD VA, July 21, 2015), a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be permitted to proceed against various defendants on his RLUIPA, free exercise and due process challenges to a policy that denied inmates the right to participate in the Ramadan fast if they had missed more than three consecutive religious services.

 

In Aragon v. Erlanger, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96185 (D CO, July 23, 2015), a Colorado federal magistrate judge recommended that a Messianic Jewish inmate be permitted to proceed against the food services supervisor on his complaint that Passover meals and messianic Jewish diets were prepared without special preparation cleaning of the kitchen area and equipment to meet kosher requirements. A claim against the outside rabbi who advised on kosher standards was dismissed,as was a complaint that Messianic Jews should have been permitted to celebrate Passover on a different date than Jewish inmates.

In Dearwester v. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96413 (ED CA, July 22, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that  plaintiff,a Christian inmate who believed that the New Testament required his eating a kosher diet, be permitted to move forward with his First Amendment damage claim based on denial of kosher meals.

In Blankenship v. Setzer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96871 (WD NC, July 23, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court permitted to proceed on his complaint that he was not allowed to take his Bible with him when he was being transported to court in another county, and that his Bible was confiscated for not having a cover.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 19, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wilkinson v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, (11th Cir., July 15, 2015), the 11th Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to observe two Santeria holy days.

In Moffat v. Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90549 (D MA, July 13, 2015), a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that he was removed from the special religious diet list on two occasions after he failed to sign for his meals, but then was reinstated.

In Greene v. Cabral, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90548 (D MA, July 13, 2015), a Massachusetts federal district court permitted an Orthodox Jewish inmate to move ahead with his claim that prison authorities regularly fail to comply with kosher standards in the kosher meals they provide inmates.

In Fonseca v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90644 (SD CA, July 10, 2015), a California federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that his kosher meals do not contain sufficient meat.  The magistrate’s recommendation in the case is at 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90668, June 10, 2015.

In Muhammad v. Mathena, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91081 (WD VA, July 14, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he did not receive certain of his issues of the weekly religious periodical “Final Call,” and that other issues were delayed or delivered out of order.

In Abpikar v. Martin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93431 (ED CA, July 17, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that while in administrative segregation, he was denied group daily worship with other Muslim inmates.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 12, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jehovah v. Clarke, (4th Cir., July 9, 2014), the 4th Circuit reversed a Virginia federal district court’s dismissal of free exercise and RLUIPA claims by an inmate who had a sincere belief in his own version of Christianity based on a version of the Bible he had written. He complained about policies banning consumption of wine during communion, inability to obtain a job that allows him to observe his “Old Jewish” and “New Christic” Sabbaths, and his cell assignment with anti-Christians and unbelievers.

In Harris v. State, 2015 Nev. App. Unpub. LEXIS 282 (NV App., June 2, 2015), a Nevada appeals court affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was required to give up his medically-necessary low-sodium diet during Ramadan in order to receive Ramadan meals.

In Robinson v. Landry, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87025 (D ME, July 6, 2015), a Maine federal district court dismissed because of mootness and unavailability of damages as relief, a Native American inmate’s complaint growing out of failure to return his medicine bag, denial of smudge materials, and lack of access to Native American services.

In Ryidu-X v. Maryland Division of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87683 (D MD, July 6, 2015), a Maryland federal district court held that the brief inability of an inmate to access the prison commissary using his religious name despite a settlement agreement allowing him to do so did not amount to a violation of constitutional magnitude.

In Daywitt v. Minnesota, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87552 (D MN, July 6, 2015), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87951, June 17, 2015) and permitted plaintiff, an Orthodox Jew who was civilly committed in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program to move ahead with his suit for injunctive and declaratory relief regarding the ban on his wearing a suit coat as required by his religious beliefs. His complaint regarding a ban on wearing a yarmulke was dismissed as moot since the policy had been changed. Damage claims against officials were dismissed on qualified immunity grounds.

In Trotter v. Ramsey, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89106 (WD TN, July 9, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court upheld the requirement that all inmate religious services be supervised by an outside religious leader or staff and dismissed a complaint by an inmate who was an approved group Bible study leader that on two occasions he was not allowed to hold Sabbath/Advent Bible study.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 5, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Incumaa v. Stirling, (4th Cir., July 1, 2015), the 4th Circuit rejected a claim by an inmate who is a member of Nation of Gods and Earths that his 20 years in solitary confinement following his participation in a 1995 prison riot with other Five Percenters violates his rights under RLUIPA. However the court held that plaintiff may move to trial on his procedural due process challenge to his continuing solitary confinement.

In Beamon v. Dittmann, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83982 (ED WI, June 29, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court refused to allow a Block Muslim inmate to add a RLUIPA claim to his complaint because plaintiff only seeks damages that are unavailable under RLUIPA.

In Gray v. Lewis, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84133 (ND CA, June 29, 2015), a California federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with most of his claims that he was restricted from obtaining a kosher diet and in other ways not provided with the resources to practice his Yahweh religion. The case was referred to the pro-se prisoner mediation program.

In Sessing v. Beard, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84194 (ED CA, June 28, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an Odinist inmate be allowed to proceed with his equal protection challenge to authorities’ denial to him of access to outdoor space and a fire pit for worship since they were permitting Native American inmates access. However plaintiff’s RLUIPA and free exercise claims were dismissed.

In Clark v. Anderson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84349 (ND TX, June 29, 2015), a Texas federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that one defendant failed to return a spiritual book, requiring him to order another copy from the publisher.

In Sousa v. Wegman, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85208 (ED CA, June 29, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be permitted to move ahead with his attempt to obtain recognition of those with Mexican Indian Beliefs as a religious group, and their access to religious services, holiday celebrations and use of a sweat lodge.

In Adler v. Gonzalez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85210 (ED CA, June 30, 2015), in a suit by a Catholic inmate, a California federal magistrate judge recommended a finding that there are still disputed facts that need to go to trial on whether or not Catholic services were available and whether plaintiff made any attempt to participate in them.

In Shabazz v. Johnson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86787 (ED VA, July 2, 2015), a Virginia federal district court rejected a Nation of Islam inmate’s claim that requiring him to eat the Common Fare diet rather than a strict Nation of Islam diet violated his rights under RLUIPA.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 28, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jones v. Williams, (9th Cir., June 25, 2015), the 9th Circuit held that prison authorities are not entitled to qualified immunity on a Muslim inmate’s cliam that he was ordered to cook pork loins as part of his job duties.  The court however dismissed claims that cooks added pork to a tamale pie, and that the grill cleaning method left residual pork grease on the grill.

In Speed v. Neal, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81606 (ED MO, June 24, 2015), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he did not receive a non-pork tray. It also dismissed his claim for damages of $30 million because of failure to receive pre-dawn meals, a copy of the Qur’an, a place to congregate for prayer and a clock to tell the correct time for prayer.

In Koenig v. Maryland, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81696 (D MD, June 23, 2015), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s claims that the kosher diet menu was made unattractive to discourage inmates from signing up for it, and that study sessions occur infrequently and religious texts are not available.

In Linares v. Department of Homeland Security, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83379 (ND AL, May 28, 2015), an Alabama federal magistrate judge recommended that a Jewish Immigrations and Customs civil detainee be permitted to proceed with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by denial of kosher meals, Sabbath services and access to a rabbi, but recommended dismissal of his class action claims and claims for injunctive relief.  The federal district court (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82492, June 25, 2015) held that while the magistrate’s recommendation was well taken, the suit should be dismissed without prejudice because plaintiff culd no longer be located.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 21, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Robinson v. Jackson, (6th Cir., June 15, 2015), the 6th Circuit held that vegetarian meals satisfied an inmate’s need for a Halal diet.

In Mauwee v. Palmer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77830 (D NV, June 16, 2015), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77833, May 26, 2015) and dismissed a complaint by a Native American inmate that his eagle talon– a sacred object– was confiscated and destroyed before he completed the grievance process.

In Cohee v. Coupe, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77940 (D DE, June 16, 2015, a Delaware federal district court permitted plaintiff, who is a Thelemite, to proceed with his complaint that when he was transferred to the hole he was denied access to his religious book and was advised that he could only have a Bible or the Qur’an. He did not have a constitutional claim regarding theft of several of his religious books.

In Rogers v. Molina, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78010 (ND CA, June 15, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge held that a nursing home resident can proceed with his complaint that while in the emergency room, sheriff’s deputies instead of providing him a wheelchair, a threw him to the ground and, among other things, seized blessing oil that he uses to practice his religion.

In O’Neal v. Amah, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78716 (ED CA, June 16, 2015, a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that when he was moved to a new facility he was denied a religious diet for over 60 days. He was given leave to amend his complaint to more clearly allege facts regarding denial of access to weekly church services much of the time.

In Nance v. Miser, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79136 (D AZ, June 16, 2015), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that a Halal diet with meat was unavailable, but permitted him to move ahead with his 1st Amendment damage claim for denial of a shaving waiver for 7 months.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 14, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Rowell v. Cox, 2015 Nev. App. Unpub. LEXIS 243 (NV App., , May 27, 2015), a Nevada appeals court affirmed dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights under the state and federal constitutions were infringed when prison authorities refused to furnish him a low-sodium, soybean-free, kosher diet so he could meet both his health and religious needs.

In Womack v. Cross, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73884 (SD IL, June 8, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Native American inmate to proceed with his free exercise and equal protection challenge to the prison chaplain’s hostile impediments to Native American ceremonies and worship.

In Young v. Biter, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73944 (ED CA, June 8, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a Messianic Jewish inmate’s 200-page complaint alleging, among other things, denial of a kosher diet and denial of inmate minister status.

In Anderson v. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74249 (ED MO, June 9, 2015), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a suit by a prisoner awaiting trial on possession and distribution of heroin charges seeking a declaration that the government’s decision to indict him and hold him for trial violates his free exercise rights.  He claims that he “is a student of Esoteric and Mysticism studies” and that he distributes heroin to “the sick, lost, blind, lame, deaf, and dead members of Gods’ Kingdom” to save their souls.

In Ramrattan v. Fischer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74510 (SD NY, June 9, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, a Hindu inmate’s complaint regarding failure to hire a Hindu chaplain and failure to provide him with a religious diet.

In Garcia v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75125 (SD IL, June 10, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate who had changed his faith from Hebrew Israelite to Orthodox Jewish to move ahead with his complaint that he was being denied use of tefillin because the Department of Corrections contracted rabbi refused to instruct him in their use since he did not consider him Jewish.

In Wright v. Lassiter, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75838 (ED NC, June 10, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that prison authorities refused to recognize certain holidays he sought to observe.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 7, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Howard v. Joyce Meyer Ministries, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70768 (ED WI, June 1, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Therevedan Buddhist inmate to move ahead with complaints that a picture of Jesus was displayed on the library wall; gift bags containing hygiene products included Bible passages; the TV channel carrying inmate announcements had Christian radio audio; and a religious necklace he ordered was classified as contraband.

In Williams v. Leonard, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72070 (ND NY, June 4, 2015), a New York federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with RLUIPA claims for injunctive relief regarding length of pants and family participation in Eid el-Adha, but dismissed his equal protection and damages claims.

In Anderson v. Olson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72595 (WD WI, June 4, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when officials threw out his copy of the Qur’an along with other books of his that were over the limit for the number of allowable books, rather than mailing them out to his family. However he was allowed to proceed on his due process claim.

In Furnace v. Gipson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72570 (ED CA, June 3, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended permitting an inmate who practiced Shetaut Neter to proceed with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was unable to change his name or obtain items needed to practice his religion, particularly an ankh, a prayer mat, cleansing oil, and various dried fruits.

In Prim v. Jackson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72721 (SD OH, June 4, 2015), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (see prior posting) and permitted a Natsarim (Messianic Jewish) inmate to move to an evidentiary hearing on his request for a preliminary injunction regarding Sabbath services, recognition of plaintiff’s religious calendar, sack meals on Friday night for the Sabbath and retaliation for filing grievances.

In Kalican v. Dzurenda, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72917 (D CT, June 5, 2015), a Connecticut federal district court denied an inmate’s motion for rehearing on his complaint that on one occasion he was barred from carrying his kufi to the dining hall in his pocket.

In Amaker v. Goord, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73133 (WD NY, June 5, 2015), a New York federal magistrate judge held that absent accompanying physical injury, under federal statutory law an inmate cannot recover compensatory damages for denial of access to religious services while in special housing unit.  However the court awarded $1 nominal damages. It also granted plaintiff’s request for a specific witness on a separate claim for punitive damages.

In Freeman v. Arpaio, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71870 (D AZ, June 2, 2015), an Arizona federal district court dismissed with leave to amend using the proper court-approved form an atheist inmate’s complaint that the Establishment Clause is violated by patriotic and religious songs that are played every morning and evening on the jail’s televisions.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 31, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Grief v. Ask-Carlson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66653 (ED NY, May 21, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that he needs two stuffed animals to use in his practice of meditation that is part of his quest for spiritual enlightenment.

In Allah v. Wade, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66690 (ED NC, May 20, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his religious material was seized and declared contraband and non-religious.

In Shabazz v. Lokey, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67051 (WD VA, May 22, 2015), a Virginia federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his claim that his Nation of Islam materials were seized and wrongly declared to be gang-related “Five Percenter” documents.

In Aytch v. Cox, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67180 (D NV, May 21, 2015), a Nevada federal district court granted a Muslim inmate a preliminary injunction ordering prison officials to provide him with a diet that complies with both the tenets of his Muslim faith and his low sodium medical needs.

In Quinn v. Management & Training Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68388 (SD MS, May 4, 2015), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate’s claim that officials refused to recognize Voodoo as his religion and to allow him access to written religious materials be dismissed as abandoned by plaintiff at the hearing.

In Winston v. Gray, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69388 (ED MO, May 29, 2015), a Missouri federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he is being denied kosher meals because he failed to comply with the court’s discovery order.

In Sessing v. Beard, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69916 (ED CA, May 28, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge vacated his earlier findings and recommendation to dismiss and gave plaintiff 30 days to file a new complaint alleging that Asatru/Odinists were arbitrarily denied access to the Native American fire pit and to a suitable worship area.

In Wahid v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70036 (ND CA, May 28, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with his claim for nominal and punitive damages for authorities’ interrupting Muslim congregational prayer on one day.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 17, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Quezada v. Long, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61753 (CD CA, May 11, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a complaint by an Orthodox Jewish inmate that he was not allowed to take his religious meals out of the dining hall to his cell, so that he could perform ritual washing of hands and recitation of prayers before eating.

In Strickland v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62179 (SD IL, May 12, 2015), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62176, April 20, 2015) and denied a preliminary injunction to an inmate who practices Asatruar who sought protection from retaliation, participation in worship, ownership of various ritual items and setting aside of sacred land where rituals could be performed.

In Porter v. Wegman, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63573 (ED CA, May 15, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a House of Yahweh inmate’s complaint over lack of accommodation of his Passover observance and denial of participation in the Jewish kosher diet program.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 10, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ajala v. West, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57944 (WD WI, May 4, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court held that the state had not shown as a matter of law that banning a Muslim inmate from wearing a kufi outside his cell and group worship is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest. It ordered the case to trial on injunctive and declaratory relief, but found qualified immunity as to damages.

In Cauthen v. Rivera, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58244 (ED CA, May 4, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by a Rastafarian inmate about a body cavity search.  Plaintiff objected on religious grounds that it would be indecent to expose his naked body to people that don’t “look like” him, such as females or homosexuals.

In Mallory v. Stanitis, 2015 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 312 (PA Commnw. Ct., May 5, 2015), a 3-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s retaliation and free exercise claims growing out of plaintiff’s insistence on wearing his pants legs rolled up to the middle of his shins for religious reasons.

In Pabon v. Cheshire County Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58717 (D NH, May 1, 2015), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183796, April 17, 2014), and allowed an inmate to proceed with his constitutional, but not his RLUIPA, claims for damages based on allegations that he was denied access to religious items and prevented from practicing his religion.

In Rinaldi v. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59579 (MD PA, May 7, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied the opportunity to engage in congregate Friday Jumuah prayers with other Muslims. While issues of fact remained as to plaintiff’s claim under RFRA, he failed to allege personal involvement of any of the defendants.

In Fox v. Heyns, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60247 (WD MI, May 7, 2015), a Michigan federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing as moot, as well as for failure to exhaust, complaints by two inmates seeking recognition of the Christian Identity Faith and its holy days as well as of full-body immersion.

In Wilson-El v. Mutayoba, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60688 (SD IL, May 8, 2015), an Illinois federal district court upheld $10,100 punitive damage verdict a jury had awarded against a prison chaplain who had denied a Moorish Science Temple member a vegan diet.

In Oliver v. Adams, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60859 (ED CA, May 7, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Shetaut Neter inmate to move ahead with his First Amendment, RLUIPA and equal protection claims asserting favoritism to conventional Western world religions and denials of a religious diet, prayer rug, religious materials, worship services, and other programming.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 3, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Herbert v. Balducci, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54866 (WD WA, April 27, 2015), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54945, Jan. 8, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by prison policy that limits reading material to a Bible while serving disciplinary confinement  Plaintiff argued this means he is forced to read a Bible and cannot read his Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book.

In Truidalle v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55061 (CD IL, April 28, 2015), an Illinois federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Rastafarian inmate that he was receiving a vegan rather than a kosher diet, and that his religion was wrongly changed on his identification card to “other.”

In Walker v. Fasulo, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56209 (D NV, April 29, 2015), a Nevada federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaints that  jail officials prevented him from praying (and threatened to send him to disciplinary housing if he prayed without permission), prevented him from attending Jumua services, and from obtaining Kosher-Halal meals.

In Simmons v. Williams, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56134 (SD GA, April 29, 2015), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended permitting an inmate to move ahead with his claims that a search resulting in his being undressed in front of other men and having to shave his beard imposed a substantial burden on the exercise of his religion.

In Wilson-El v. Mutayoba, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56163 (SD IL, April 29, 2015), an Illinois federal district court held that requiring an inmate who had successfully recovered $10,100 in punitive damages against prison officials who had denied his request for a vegan diet should not be required to pay more than a nominal amount of his $15,000 attorneys fees, with the remainder paid by defendants.

In Kindred v. Allenby, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56318 (ED CA, April 29, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Native American civil detainee that Native Americans were denied the right to hold Sunrise Prayer Ceremonies, were retaliated against for displaying sacred or spiritual items, and that his spiritual rug was confiscated and his medicine bag desecrated.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 26, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In West v. Grams, (7th Cir., April 22, 2015), the 7th Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal on mootness grounds of a Muslim inmate’s RLUIPA claim. While the inmate had been transferred to another institution, the challenged policy of allowing religious services only if an outside volunteer is available to lead them is a system-wide policy.

In Holtz v. Pierce County, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52453 (WD WA, April 20. 2015), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52448, April 1, 2015) and dismissed a number of claims by a Muslim inmate. Numerous claims were dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Claims relating to Halal meat and dessert; purchase of Kosher food; non-recorded visitations; threat and inappropriate language regarding religion by an officer; and conditions of housing unit regarding prayer were dismissed with prejudice.

In Desmond v. Phelps, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52657 (D DE, April 22, 2015), a Delaware federal district court severed into three separate suits a case in which a number of inmates representing 3 different religions (Islam, Catholicism, Judaism) complained about availability of religious services.

In Allah v. Colorado Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52792 (D CO, April 22, 2015), a Colorado federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that after he had legally changed his name to a religious name, prison authorities only allowed him to use that as an a.k.a. along with name under which he was originally committed.

In Montague v. Schofield, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53208 (ED TN, April 22, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that religious programs have been curtailed and that Muslim inmates are allowed to purchase prayer oil only from a single vendor, but with general leave to amend because class action status had been denied for these and numerous other claims.

In El v. Wehling, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53356 (D NJ, April 23, 2015), a New Jersey federal district court in dealing with a sprawling 537-page complaint raising 49 counts relating to plaintiff’s arrest and his being charged with weapons and drug offenses among other things dismissed plaintiff’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when officials used his given name rather than his Moorish name on court papers.

In Barstad v. Wright, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53573 (WD WA, April 23, 2015), a Washington federal magistrate judge recommend dismissing an inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed by various mail rejections.

In Kuykendall v. Kennell, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53798 (CD IL, April 24, 2015), an Illinois federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his requests to change his religious affiliation from Catholic to Messianic Hebrew, then to Judaism, and lastly to Assemblies of Yahweh were not honored to legitimize his requests for a list of Jewish holidays, special religious holiday meals and a Kosher diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 19, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Adams v. Scott, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47928 (CD IL, April 10, 015), an Illinois federal district court permitted five non-denominational civil detainees to move ahead with their complaint that their RLUIPA and free exercise rights were infringed by refusal to create non-denominational religious services and by a policy that requires them to declare an affiliation with a denomination in order to attend services.

In Prim v. Jackson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48970 (SD OH, April 14, 2015), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a number of complaints by an inmate, including his request that Natsarim be recognized as a subcategory under the Messianic Jewish faith and access to religious instructional videos.  However he recommended that plaintiff be permitted to proceed to an evdentiary hearing on his request for a preliminary injunction regarding Sabbath services, recognition of plaintiff’s religious calendar, sack meals on Friday night for the Sabbath and retaliation for filing grievances.

In Clark v. Davis, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4975 (ND CA, April 15, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Messianic Jewish death row in mate to proceed with his challenge to a policy that limits his access to clergy.

In Masas v. Conte, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50009 (ND NY, April 16, 2015) a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50527, March 25, 2015) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that correction officers threatened to assault him if he did not shave his beard that he wore because of his Muslim religious faith.

In Gomez v. Chill, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50800 (SD NY, April 17, 2015), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended on various procedural and substantive grounds dismissing the complaint by a Messianic Jewish inmate that he was denied kosher food and the right to attend Jewish religious services.

In Moore v. Hartley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50904 (D CO, April 17, 2015), a Colorado federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that while at a private correctional re-entry center his free exercise, RLUIPA and Establishment Clause rights were infringed by the requirement that each morning, inmates stand and recite the correctional center’s “Credo”, “Attitude”, and “Choices.”

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 12, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wilkinson v. Geo Group, Inc., (11th Cir., April 7, 2015), the 11th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Santeria inmate’s complaint that during a cell search a Santeria artifact was confiscated and a shrine destroyed. Authorities had offered to reimburse him for the shrine.

In Giorgio v. Jackson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44243 (D MA, April 1, 2015), a Massachusetts federal district court allowed Native American inmates to proceed with their complaint that they were denied access to smudging materials and ceremonies.  Claims regarding denial of feathers, off-site pow-wows and purification lodge ceremonies were dismissed.

In Mitchell v. Mississippi Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43600 (ND MI, April 2. 2015), a Mississippi federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that Friday Jumu’ah services were cancelled for a number of months in one prison unit for security reasons.

In Varsanyi v. Piazza, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46473, (MD PA. April 9, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a complaint by a now-released Jewish inmate that the correctional facility’s kosher diet did not meet Orthodox Jewish standards, that he was denied visits by an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and denied religious materials.

In Tamayo v. Fisher, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46694 (ED CA, April 9, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to proceed with his free exercise and RLUIPA complaint that his request to be placed on the list for Ramadan meals was ignored.

In Porter v. Biter, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46725 (ED CA, April 9, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied permission to legally change his name to one consistent with his Islamic faith.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 6, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Webb v. Broyles, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39755 (WD VA, March 30, 2015), a Virginia federal district court permitted a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his claim that the food services manager falsely accused him of violating the religious diet agreement in order to save money by getting him suspended from the Common Fare diet.

In Guillory v. Weber, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39127 (ND NY, March 27, 2015), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39836, March 6, 2015) and dismissed complaints by a Jewish inmate regarding lack of religious services on one day, no meal for breaking Fast of Tammuz, and lack of a microwave to heat meals to eat in the Sukkah and inability to access the Sukkah on certain days.

In Washington v. Chaboty, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40245 (SD NY, March 30, 2015), a New York federal district court refused to dismiss an inmate’s complaint that his placement in the special housing unit was was unconstitutionally in retaliation for his giving a copy of the Qur’an with attached material to a corrections officer. The court dismissed his complaint about the lack of religious services and classes in SHU.

In Jenkins v. Stutsman County Correction Center Commissioner Chairman, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40614 (D ND, March 30, 2015), a North Dakota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40612, March 4, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint about the food furnished to him during Ramadan.

In Sessing v. Beard, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40834 (ED CA, March 30, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by an inmate seeking to have authorities construct an outdoor worship area for the exclusive use of adherents of Asatru/Odinism. A shared pagan grounds area already existed.

In Ealy v. Keen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40883 (MD PA, March 31, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints regarding additional Islamic classes, lack of a separate Halal meal plan, Ramadan arrangements, and rules on prayer oil and religious materials.

In Butts v. Martin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40908 (ED TX, March 30, 2015), a Texas federal district court dismissed a Hasidic Jewish inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he was told by a corrections officer that he would either have to remove his yarmulke or leave the chow hall.  He left.

In Thompson v. Holm, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42028 (ED WI, March 30, 2015), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge concluded that an allegedly wrongful removal of a Muslim inmate from the Ramadan participation list, which resulted in him missing two Ramadan meal bags, did not substantially burden his religious exercise.

Prisoner free exercise cases – Installment 2 for the week – March 31, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Epps v. Grannis, (9th Cir., March 27, 2015), the 9th Circuit upheld the district court’s dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s complaints regarding lack of a kosher diet, the prison’s package policy, lack of a Muslim chaplain, failure to allow him to worship in a group setting following a prison riot in 2008; failure to deliver his Ramadan package in 2008; and confiscation of his religious books in 2010, which were returned in 2012.

In Williams v. GEO Group, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37094 (MD GA, March 25, 2015), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended permitting a Rastafarian inmate to proceed with his free exercise and RLUIPA complaints that he was required to shave in violation of his Nazerite vow.

In Altman v. Palmer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37555 (ND IA, March 25, 2015), an Iowa federal district court rejected a claim by a civilly committed sex offender that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was not permitted to travel to attend the church in the town in which his family resided.

In Spigelman v. Samuels, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38147 (ED KY, March 26, 2015), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that his use of tefillin was restricted while he was in the prison’s special housing unit.

In Hart v. Shearin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38189 (D MD, March 26, 2015), a Maryland federal district court upheld a prison’s policy of limiting or cancelling religious services for problem inmates during a period of institutional lock-down. Inmates could have access to a chaplain and a religious TV video. Plaintiff’s motion to file an amended complaint indicating that he had no TV and needed to see a chaplain was granted.

In Freeman v. Budnick, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38613 (ED AR, March 26, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38618, March 4, 2015) and dismissed a complaint by an Odinist inmate that while in punitive isolation he was denied various items needed to practice his religion such as a Thor’s hammer, a set of runes and rune cloth, an Odinist text, an altar and altar cloth and a wooden statue.

In Scott v. Erdogan, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38739, (M.D. Pa. Mar. 25, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court concluded that factual issues for trial exist as to a Sunni Muslim inmate’s complaint that there were only Wahhabi/Salafi services conducted and his RLUIPA complaint about the timing of Ramadan prayer.  A number of other complaints about infringements of his religious practices were dismissed.

In Cox v. Stephens, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39051 (SD TX, March 27, 2015), a Texas federal district court dismissed a Native American inmate’s challenge to the Texas grooming policy that prohibits him from growing his hair, the religious objects policy that prohibits him from wearing his medicine bag at all times, and the pipe policy prohibiting him from partaking in the communal pipe. They were found to be the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 29, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Stavenjord v. Schmimdt, (AK Sup. Ct., March 20, 2015), the Alaska Supreme Court held that a trial court was incorrect in dismissing a RLUIPA claim by a Buddhist prisoner who wanted to receive a kosher diet and to purchase a prayer shawl.

In Lewis v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34839 (ND IL, March 20, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Rastafarian inmate to proceed with his complaints that he was forced to cut his dreadlocks, denied access to religious literature, and that the prison refused to hire a Rastafarian religious leader or provide Rastafarian services.

In Lagar v. Tegels, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34842 (WD WI, March 20, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his religious freedom was infringed when he was denied the right to wear a Rosicrucian emblem.

In Campbell v. Greeley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34967 (WD AR, March 20, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34980, Feb. 27, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that the detention center in which he was housed did not provide religious services.

In Browning v. Seifert, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35079 (ND WV, March 20, 2015), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35075, Feb. 11, 2015) and allowed an Orthodox Jewish inmate to move ahead with his suit seeking various accommodations for kosher food, wearing of religious clothing, celebration of various holidays and permission to refrain from shaving and cutting his hair.  Numerous other claims were dismissed.

In Hughes v. Heimgartner, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35642 (D KS, March 23, 2015), a Kansas federal district court refused to grant summary judgment to defendants on complaints by a Muslim inmate that he was denied access to an Eid ul Fitr meal because he was in disciplinary segregation.

In Banks v. NYPD, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35129 (WD PA, March 20, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35770, Feb. 26, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that Defendants conspired to keep him confined in a halfway house and to require him to apply for funds through two Christian organizations because of his status as a Wiccan, Warlock and Witch.

In McDonald v. West Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36125 (ND CA, March 20, 2015), a California federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his complaint that his request for vegetarian meals was denied. Plaintiff was an adherent of “Evenism,” a “religious and spiritual worldview” that “eating the flesh of land-based animals is no different than eating human flesh.”

In Bell v. Scott, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36262 (CD IL, March 24, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Seventh Day Adventist civil detainee to proceed with his complaint that authorities have refused to allow religious leaders to bring in a portable pool to baptize him.

In Jones v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37080 (WD TN, March 24, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his claim that he was denied equal protection when he was terminated from his prison job because of his religion.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 22, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Bolds v. Cavazos, (9th Cir., March 20, 2015), the 9th Circuit held that the district court properly dismissed an inmate’s free exercise claim because he failed to allege facts showing that the confiscation of his television substantially burdened the practice of his religion.

In Rojas v. Heimgartner, (10th Cir., March 20, 2015), the 10th Circuit upheld a prison policy barring Native American inmates from wearing colored bandannas outside of group religious worship services.

In Prim v. Jackson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32004 (SD OH, March 16, 2015), an inmate alleged he was prevented from celebrating the Passover seder, that inadequate security in the Chapel for female staff caused it to be closed from Friday night to Saturday night, and he was denied kosher meals.  A federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing some of the claims against certain of the defendants.

In Marshall v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32773 (MD PA, March 17, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge upheld a prison’s refusal to provide separate congregate religious services for Nation of Islam adherents, limiting them to worshiping with Sunni Muslims.

In Brock-Butler v. Parker, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33402 (WD KY, March 18, 2015), a Kentucky federal district court, in a case primarily about the use of excessive force against an inmate, permitted plaintiff to also proceed with a free exercise claim that he was forced to shave his head to treat a gash that resulted from his being Tasered.

In Williams v. Wilkinson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34172 (ED OK, March 19, 2015), an Oklahoma federal district court dismissed, for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, an inmate’s complaint that Muslim communal religious services were suspended. It dismissed on the merits plaintiff’s complaint that he had been denied a kosher diet.

In Shepherd v. Fischer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33110 (ND NY, March 18, 2015), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34238, Feb. 23, 2015) and permitted a Rastafarian inmate to proceed against certain defendants on his complaint regarding several interferences with his religious practices.(diet, dreadlocks, religious services).

In Rogers v. Dart, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34464 (ND IL, March 19, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his complaints regarding religious diet and auditing of his commissary purchases as retaliation for filing a grievance.

Prisoner free exercise cases – Installment #2 for the week – March 18, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Hall v. Martin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29585 (WD MI, March 11, 2015), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30572, Feb. 18, 2015) and denied summary judgment to a Messianic Jewish inmate who was suing because he was denied a strict vegetarian diet.

In Haynes v. Hedgpeth, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30673 (ND CA, March 12, 2015), a California federal district court refused to dismiss some of the claims by a Muslim inmate complaining that he was denied access to group Jumu’ah prayer. The court referred the case for settlement proceedings.

In Chaparro v. Ducart, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30912 (ND CA, March 9, 2015), a California federal district court permitted a Jehovah’s Witness inmate to proceed with his complaint that under prison policy he was not permitted to attend religious services for 30 days because he failed to attend a service that he had been authorized to attend.

In Fluker v. Davis, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31140 (SD MS, March 13, 2015), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that while in restrictive custody he could not attend Jumu’ah services outside of his unit.

In Williams v. Miller, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31296 (WD OK, March 12, 2015), and Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30419, Jan. 27, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he lacked access to a Qur’an during Ramadan and that prison officials failed to remove from Ramadan participation inmates that failed to honor the Ramadan fast.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 15, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Abernathy v. Strada, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28041 (ED NY, March 6, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed, primarily for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, a complaint by a former Native American inmate that he was refused a transfer to a correctional facility in which he could have access to a sweat lodge, tobacco for pipe ceremonies, musical instruments and religious literature.

In Rountree v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28511 (WD VA, March 9, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that religious books sent to her were improperly confiscated, but allowed her to move ahead with her claim for injunctive relief growing out of her complaint that she has been prohibited from standing on her prayer rug during count procedures as required by her Buddhist faith.

In Smith v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28604 (ND C, Feb. 24, 2015), a California federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that a correctional officer stopped Muslims from engaging in previously-approved group prayer.  A second pro se plaintiff who had filed jointly was dismissed without prejudice, allowing him if he wishes to file a separate action.

In Harris v. Gipson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28609 (ED CA, March 6, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the prison’s Religious Meat Alternative Program offers halal meat for diner, but only a vegetarian diet for breakfast and lunch.

In Williams v. DeJesus, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29164 (ED VA, March 9, 2015), a Virginia federal district court upheld a prison’s decision to ban an inmate from possessing The Satanic Bible.

In Hailes v. Free, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29409 (SD OH, March 10, 2015), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76127, June 3, 2014) and dismissed a Seventh Day Adventist inmate’s complaint that he was ordered to report for snow duty even though he had religious accommodation papers excusing him.  When he refused, he was placed in segregation.

In Hayles v. Taylor, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29558 (MD GA, March 11, 2015) a Georgia federal magistrate judge dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s conclusory allegation that while in disciplinary segregation he was denied access to religious services.

In Carmichael v. Aguilar, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29990 (ED CA, March 11, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint over delays in implementing a prison halal diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 8, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Spence v. Nelson, (5th Cir., March 5. 2015), the 5th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Shia Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding an alleged unpublished prison mail room policy that prohibited inmates from receiving literature from Iran.  The court concluded that the named plaintiffs were not the policy makers responsible.

In Triplett v. LeBlanc, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24468 (MD LA, March 2, 2015), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24663, Feb. 5, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his free exercise and equal protection rights were infringed when he was reassigned and disciplined for not attending a scheduled church call-out for inmate ministers.

In Addis v. Arizona Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25519 (D AZ, March 2, 2015), an Arizona federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that trash, contraband or notes were sometimes placed in kosher meals.

In Hammer v. Keeling, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25641 (ED VA, March 3, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint over being temporarily removed from the Common Fare religious diet because he was found concealing a bell pepper in the front of his pants.

In Mitchell v. Cox, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25871 (D NV, March 2, 2015), a Nevada federal district court permitted an inmate who identified as Jewish and Hebrew-Israelite to move ahead with complaints regarding kosher meals, denial of attendance at Sabbath services and restrictions on leaving his cell to observe Passover.

In Sutton v. VanLeeuwen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26367 (D CO, Feb. 25, 2015), a Colorado federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was forced to eat meat.

In Cullen v. Saddler, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27459 (CD IL, March 6, 2015), an Illinois federal district court granted summary judgment to a pro se plaintiff who objected that while in prison he was required to participate in a religious 12-step program in order to be considered for additional good time credit. The court suggested that if further proceedings were necessary to decide whether plaintiff in fact suffered the $350 damages he claimed, that the parties should waive a jury trial.

In Adams v. Woodall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27719 (MD TN, March 4, 2015), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing complaints of a Muslim inmate’s complaints regarding denial of religious jewelry, denial of access to religious vendors and denial of a religious diet.

In Smith v. United States Congress, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27818 (ED VA, March 6, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Nation of Islam inmate that Virginia state prison rules prevented him from purchasing CDs of sermons of Minister Farrakhan directly from The Final Call and barred Arabic language CDs.

In Lucas v. Director of Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27957 (ED CA, March 5, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he has not received a religious diet.  The court held that an amended complaint filed after administrative remedies are exhausted cannot cure a prematurely filed original complaint.

Prisoner free exercise cases – installment #2 for the week – March 2, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jack-Bey v. Tribley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23161 (WD MI, Feb. 26, 2015), a Michigan federal district court refused to dismiss a claim by an inmate who was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America that the 1st Amendment protects his right to study religious materials in the prison library.

In Allen v. Virga, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23585 (ED CA, Feb. 25, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate who is a follower of Yahweh (HOYY) be permitted to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a kosher diet.

In Hoye v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23775 (WD VA, Feb. 27, 2015) a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing claims of an inmate described as a “practicing Traditional and Messianic Jew” who objected to policies that precluded those on the Common Fare meal plan for religious diets from getting extra food on special meal days, and objected to the lack of a Common Fare diabetic option.  Plaintiff claimed these policies violated the free exercise, due process and equal protection clauses.

In Grayson v. Goetting, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23984 (SD IL, Feb. 27, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed an African Hebrew-Israelite inmate to proceed with his free exercise, RLUIPA and equal protection challenges to the requirement that he remove his dreadlocks (which requires cutting his hair) to periodically have his identification photo taken.

In Miles v. Guice, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24014 (ED NC, Feb. 26, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court refused to dismiss a challenge by an inmate to prison officials’ refusal to recognize Nations of Gods and Earths as a religion and their classification of it as a security threat group. The court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his claim that restrictions on his ability to practice various aspects of NGE violates his free exercise, RLUIPA and 8th Amendment rights.

In Adams v. Woodall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24046 (MD TN, Feb. 26, 2015), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended denial of a preliminary injunction in a suit by a Muslim inmate who sought to order religious items and Halal meals from an outside vendor other than the prison’s approved vendor.

In Brown v. Adams, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24170 (ED WA, Feb. 27, 2015), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24169, Feb. 3, 2015) and dismissed a complaint by an Orthodox Jewish inmate that he was not allowed to have his religious texts while he was housed in a 4-man cell. He subsequently received his texts and the policy was revised.

In Douglas v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24184 (ED VA, Feb. 27, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he is not allowed to possess prayer oil while in segregation.

In Oliver v. Harrison, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24317 (ED NC, Feb. 26, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed complaints by an inmate who had most recently described himself as of the Orthodox Jewish faith that before he was transferred to a different facility he did not receive a kosher diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 1, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Pfeil v. Lampert, (10th Cir., Feb. 20, 2015), the 10th Circuit upheld dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion a volunteer Catholic minister was not allowed to enter to provide services, and that a prison policy banning hardbound books led to confiscation of his religious books which he could not afford to replace or get with the large type font he needs in softbound form.

In Blair v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20751 (ED CA, Feb. 20, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed (with leave to amend) a Jewish inmate’s claim that his temporary placement with a Muslim cellmate violated his free exercise and RLUIPA rights.

In Harris v. Arpaio, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21802 (D AZ, Feb. 23, 2015), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his Bible was confiscated and not replaced and that his request for baptismal services, marriage services and weekly religious services was refused.

In Pevia v. Shearin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21805 (D MD, Feb. 24, 2015), a Maryland federal district court refused to dismiss a complaint by an inmate that Native American religious services were not regularly scheduled and that he was not permitted to participate or have the services broadcast to him when they did take place.

In Johnson v. Pritchard, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22921 (MD TN, Feb. 24, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21879, Jan 29, 2015) and allowed plaintiff to proceed with his claims for equitable relief to end a prison policy that precludes indigent inmates from attending Muslim religious feasts when they cannot pay the cost from their personal inmate trust fund accounts.

In Shabazz v. Johnson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21995 (ED VA, Feb. 24, 2015), a Virginia federal district court ordered further briefing on a claim by a Nation of Islam inmate that he has not received a diet consistent with his religious beliefs, but dismissed his complaints of insufficient NOI religious services, not being able to wear bow ties to religious services and being unable to watch Farrakhan sermons on cable television.

In Hodges v. Brown, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22199 (ED NC, Feb. 20, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a complaint by an Orthodox Messianic Jewish inmate regarding the kosher diet policy and practices, but permitted him to move ahead with his complaint regarding outside volunteer requirement for leading congregate worship services.

In Rossi v. Fishcer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22348 (SD NY, Feb. 24, 2015), a New York federal district court permitted a Nyahbinghi Rastafarian inmate to proceed with claims regarding recognition of four holy days, scheduling services on the correct day and wearing of a turban.  It dismissed claims regarding family events, holy day menus, spiritual advisers, fundraising proceeds, and reporting of plaintiff’s marijuana use.

In Sims v. Wegman, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22765 (ED CA, Feb. 24, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that he was denied kosher meals.

In Baumgarten v. Howard County Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23112  (D MD, Feb. 25, 2015), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s claim that while he was at a detention center his kosher meal requests were inadequately accommodated.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 22, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Bausman v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20213 (ED CA, Feb. 18, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge allowed a Native American inmate to move ahead with his complaint under RLUIPA that a change in regulations prohibiting possession of certain religious artifacts integral to participation in daily Native American cultural, traditional, ceremonial, and spiritual life substantially burdened his religious exercise.

In Blair v. CDCR, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20751 (ED CA, Feb. 20, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint of a Jewish inmate that his temporary placement with a cellmate who was Muslim violated his free exercise and RLUIPA rights.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 15, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Banks v. Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, (3d Cir., Feb. 9, 2015), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s challenge to prison policies on participation in feasts of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and to the use of prayer oils during religious services.

In Harris v. Pimentel, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15338 (ED CA, Feb. 9, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended refusing to strike an inmate’s complaint that his cell was searched and his Qur’an kicked under the bed, defiled with a boot mark.

In Richardson v. Cheshire County, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15903 (D NH, Feb. 6, 2015), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15902, Jan. 14, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding the meals he received during Ramadan.

 

In Abdulkarim v. Metropolitan Sheriff Department, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16609 (MD TN, Feb. 11, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his claim that his jail will not provide religious services for Muslim inmates.

 

In Woodside-Fisher v. Pulley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17319 (WD CA, Feb. 12, 2015), a California federal district court, adopting a magistrate’s recommendation, dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his food was tampered with because it was a halal food tray, his non-halal tray was not replaced on 3 occasions, an officer made remarks about his religion, and on one occasion he did not have time for a shower because he was praying.

In Gamble v. Kenworthy, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17587 (ED NC, Feb. 12, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that control status inmates were not allowed to receive special food from outside the institution for Eid al Fitr.

In Scheeler v. Lehigh County Prison, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17781 (ED PA, Feb. 12, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to his Bible while in the Restricted Housing Unit for 9 days.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 8, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Patterson v. Linderman, (9th Cir., Feb. 3, 2015), the 9th Circuit upheld an inmate’s suspension from the kosher meal plan for sharing or trading of food with other inmates.

In Karsjens v. Jesson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11779 (D MN, Feb. 2, 2015), a Minnesota federal district court, in a suit challenging many aspects of the Minnesota Sexual Offender Program, permitted plaintiffs to move ahead with their claim that MSOP’s policies and practices restrict when and where plaintiffs may worship and limit their ability to practice their sincerely held religious beliefs.

In Stemple v. Shearin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12253 (D MD, Feb. 2, 2015), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a Wiccan inmate’s complaints regarding the inadequacy of the previous location of Wiccan services and his 6-month suspension from congregate worship opportunities for rule violations.

In Woodstock v. Shaffer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13158 (D CO, Feb. 4, 2015), a Colorado federal magistrate judge ordered plaintiff, a Messianic Jewish inmate, to file an amended complaint setting out the personal involvement of each defendant in the alleged failure to provide a kosher diet

In Trice v. Shearin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13653 (D MD, Feb. 4, 2015), a Maryland federal district court permitted a Native American inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to attend congregate services and that Cherokee Native American religious services were not permitted in an outside grassy area as religiously required.

In Jackson v. Crawford, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14222 (WD NO, Feb. 6, 2015), a Missouri federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his complaint that his religious exercise was substantially burdened by the inability to list atheism as his religion.

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 1, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brooks v. Roy, (8th Cir., Jan. 27, 2015), the 8th Circuit upheld dismissal of an inmate’s claims that a chemical-dependency program conflicted with his Native American religious faith. From the complaint, the court could not determine the nature of the prisoner’s religious beliefs and thus prison officials were not put on notice of his claims.

In Robertson v. Call, 2015 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 33 (KS App., Jan. 15, 2015), a Kansas state appellate court reversed a trial court’s summary dismissal of a Messianic Jewish inmate’s claim that allowing his meetings with his rabbi only to be by video link violates the free exercise and establishment clauses.

In Henderson v. Hernandez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8773 (ND CA, Jan. 23, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with 1st Amendment and RLUIPA claims that he has been denied congregate prayer, appropriate Ramadan and festival meals, a qualified Muslim chaplain and resource group, and various religious items. The court dismissed his claim that Muslim inmates should be housed in the same building.

In Grisham v. Pritcher, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9132 (MD TN, Jan. 27, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that authorities refused to provide a room for Hanafi Muslims to meet twice a week for study and prayer.

In Payne v. Gipson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9218 (ED CA, Jan.26, 2015), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s claim for damages for denial of a Halal meal. Various other claims for equitable relief involving religious exercise concerns were dismissed as moot.

In Cejas v. Myers, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9258 (ED CA, Jan. 27, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate to move ahead with his free exercise claim alleging that Buddhist inmates were denied unsupervised access to the chapel, while Jewish and Muslim inmates were allowed such access.

In Mohammed-Bey v. Pool, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9348 (ND CA, Jan. 26, 2015), a California federal district court denied a preliminary injunction and TRO to an inmate seeking for religious reasons to change his ethnicity from “negro,” or “black” to “Moorish-American.”

In Brown v. City of New York, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10469 (SD NY, Jan. 29, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he did not have access to an Imam.

In Dixie v. Virga, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11429 (ED CA, Jan. 29, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that Enhanced Outpatient Program prisoners were barred from attending Jumu’ah prayer sessions with General Population inmates. The court also ruled on a number of discovery requests.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 25, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause


In Davila v. Marshall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6167 (SD GA, Jan. 20, 2014), a Georgia federal magistrate judge dismissed on mootness and qualified immunity grounds an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a Santeria bead necklace and his bible.

In Greybuffalo v. Wall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6566 (WD WI, Jan. 21, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s complaint that prison authorities refused to recognize the Native American Church as an umbrella religious group.

In Sims v. Biter, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6779 (ED CA, Jan. 21, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a warden’s denial of a legal religious name change to an inmate where the change could interfere with sex offender registration requirements.

In Planker v. Christie, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6804 (D NJ, Jan. 20, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed without prejudice an “Organic Odian” inmate’s complaints about scheduling and access to religious services and ritual items, about a required TB test, and about racist and pro-Islamic comments made to him.

In Furnace v. Gipson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6879 (ED CA, Jan. 20, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend claims by an inmate that authorities restricted his ability to practice Shetaut Neter in the prison’s Special Housing Unit by preventing a name change and ordering of spiritual items, and by denying communal worship, observance of Neterian holidays and access to a Neterian chaplain.

In Gee v. Sabol, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6891 (MD PA, Jan. 21, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court denied a temporary restraining order to an inmate who was refused kosher meals because. while claiming he is Jewish, at other times had stated that he was Muslim or had no faith.

In Dennison v. Ryan, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7334 (D AZ, Jan. 16, 2015), an Arizona federal magistrate judge passed on a number of discovery requests by an inmate suing to obtain a diet consistent with his Seventh Day Adventist faith.

In Muhammad v. Mathena, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7330 (WD VA, Jan. 22, 2015), a Virginia federal district court held that the prison’s Common Fare diet substantially accommodates the religious dietary needs a Nation of Islam inmate.

In Thompson v. Boldt, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7349 (CD CA, Jan. 21, 2015), on remand from the 9th Circuit, a California federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180795, Aug. 22, 2014) and dismissed a complaint by a pre-trial detainee who had become and adherent of Assemblies of Yahweh that he was denied a religious diet, access to a religious leader, service and other religious items, as well as the ability to observe holy days and feasts.

In Hammond v. Department of Corrections, 2015 Mich. App. LEXIS 105 (MI App., Jan, 22, 2015), a Michigan state appellate court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s objections to a policy change that called for prisoners seeking a kosher diet to receive vegan meals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 18, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause


In Jones v. Foster, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3289 (D NV, Jan. 12, 2015), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180081, Dec. 23, 2014) and denied a preliminary injunction to a Muslim inmate who complained that he was receiving the Common Fare Meal instead of a separate halal or kosher diet.

In Thierry v. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3726 (D AZ, Jan. 13, 2015), an Arizona federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Jehovah’s Witness inmate seeking a New World Holy Scriptures Bible and complaining that there are no Jehovah’s Witness bible studies or meetings, and that only six inmates per pod are permitted to attend church.

In Williams v. Cox, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4621 (SD GA, Jan. 13, 2015), a Georgia federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that he was denied a requested work proscription in observance of the Feast of Shavout.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 11, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Davila v. Gladden, (11th Cir., Jan. 9, 2015), the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 31-page opinion reversed a district court’s dismissal of a claim for injunctive relief under RFRA by a federal prisoner who is a Santeria priest.  He was not allowed to have his goddaughter bring him his set of personal Santeria beads and Cowrie shells. The court said that “the prison has offered no evidence to justify its cost and safety concerns.”  The Court however affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s 1st Amendment claims and his damage claims under RFRA.

In  Mobley v. Coleman, 2015 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 15 (PA Commnwlth. Ct., Jan. 6, 2015), a Pennsylvania trial court rejected an inmate’s claim that the Establishment Clause and Equal Protection Clause were violated when a prison provided Sunni Muslim congregational services while not providing similar Nation of Islam services.

In Williams v. Nish, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1159 (MD PA, Jan. 7, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed complaints by a Native American inmate that he and others were forced to conduct prayer and smudging ceremonies outdoors in cold or adverse weather and that Three Sisters seeds used as ceremonial relics were destroyed and not replaced.

In Shaw v. Georgia, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1484 (SD GA, Jan. 7, 2014), a Georgia federal magistrate judge permitted an inmate to proceed with his 1st and 8th Amendment claims based on his complaint that he has suffered serious health problems from the denial of a nutritionally adequate diet that complies with his religious beliefs.

In Mutawakkil v. Hamblin, 2015 Wisc. App. LEXIS 6 (WI App., Jan. 8, 2015), a Wisconsin state appeals court affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was only allowed to use his spiritual name along with the name on his judgment of conviction, while those who had their name changed legally could used their new name alone on correspondence and for various other purposes.

In Hassan v. Whart, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2602 (ED VA, Jan. 9, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a suit by a former jail inmate who sued for $1 million in damages and injunctive relief because during his 5 weeks in jail he was not able to attend congregate Friday Jumu’ah services.

In Bear v. Dietsch, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2763 (ND IA, Jan. 9, 2014), an Iowa federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies inmates’ complaint that while in the Transition Incentive Program they were not permitted to attend community religious services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 4, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Shehee v. Anlin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177898 (ED CA, Dec. 25, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a civil detainee’s complaint regarding problems in connection with a requested religious diet.

In Flippin v. Vaughn, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178053 (WD KY, Dec. 30, 2014), a Kentucky federal district court permitted a pre-trial detainee to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied the right to attend church after he was placed in administrative segregation due to overcrowding.

In Curry v. Bradt, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176210 (WD NY, Dec. 19, 2914), a New York federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178826, Dec. 2, 2014), and denied a TRO and preliminary injunction to a Muslim inmate who complained that only one of the two meals furnished to inmates on a Ramadan diet was a hot meal.

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 14, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Chavis v. United States, (3d Cir., Dec. 12, 2014), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s claim that a correctional officer’s pat down search of his genital area violated his free exercise rights because his religion prohibits homosexual activity.

In Goninan v. Holmes, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169213 (D OR, Dec. 4, 2014), an Oregon federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s challenge to the prison system’s ban on the Satanic Bible and certain other Satanic publications.

In Powers v. Clarke, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170322 (ED VA, Dec. 8, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate complaint that the prison system classified the Nation of Gods and Earths as a gang rather than a spiritual organization.

In Hamilton v. Carr, 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8811 (CA App., Dec. 11, 2014), a California appeals court affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s claim that a correctional officer violated California’s Bane Act when he pulled plaintiff’s kufi cap off his head and yelled “get out of here.”

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 7, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mitchell v. Fox, (9th Cir., Dec. 5, 2014), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that prison officials destroyed and confiscated his religious property. Plaintiff had not shown that this constituted a substantial burden on his practice of religion.

In Mehmood v. United States Marshals Service, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166386 (ED CA, Dec. 1, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim federal pre-trail detainee housed in a county jail to proceed with claims under the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses objecting to the diet furnished to him in response to his request for halal food, and denial of various religious items and of the ability to leave his cell 5 times a day to pray. His equal protection and RLUIPA claims were dismissed with leave to amend.

In Evans v. Godinez, (IL App., Dec. 1, 2014), an Illinois appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of a complaint by a Nation of Islam inmate seeking space and time for weekly inmate-led NOI study groups and prayer sessions.

In Brame v. Hodge, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166586 (SD IL, Dec. 2, 2014), an Illinois federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to a Hebrew Israelite inmate who claims he suffered retaliation because of a lawsuit he filed complaining that he was denied a kosher diet, attendance at Jewish services, and participation in Jewish holidays.

In Reiske v. Bruno, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167443 (D CT, Dec. 3, 2014), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Wiccan inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to purchase various religious items, including religious oils and a pendant cord.

In Ajala v. West, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168602 (WD WI, Dec. 5, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court vacated its earlier order and allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied Ramadan meal accommodations, but affirmed the earlier dismissal of his complaint regarding his Eid-al-Fitr meal.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 30, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ajala v. West, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163003 (WD WI, Nov. 19,2014), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied a halal diet and that officials refused to serve him the prepackaged meals that Jewish prisoners receiving kosher meals received.

In Dockery v. Wetzel, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163403 (MD PA, Nov. 21, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that his request for a halal diet with meat was refused; that he was not permitted to leave his unit (one for inmates with serious mental health and disciplinary problems) to attend Jumu’ah services with the general population; and he was not permitted to view religious services on closed circuit TV.

In Graddy v. Ding, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163489 (ED CA, Nov, 20, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to participate in Ramadan activities while on “C Status” because of his misbehavior.

In Nji v. Heath, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163060 (SD NY, Nov. 10, 2014), a New York federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that as a keeplock inmate he was not allowed to attend Christmas religious services.

In Houston v. Schriro, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165409 (SD NY, Nov. 24, 2014), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied low-sodium halal meals.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 23, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Robbins v. Toole, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160274 (SD GA, Nov. 14, 2014), Georgia magistrate judge allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was not being given food that meets his religious requirements.

In Malipurathu v. Johnson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160529 (ND OK, Nov. 13, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court dismissed complaints by a Sikh inmate that he was not permitted to obtain a halal diet until he listed his religion as Sikh/ Islam.  Plaintiff never requested that the Department of Corrections add the Sikh religion to the list of those entitled to a halal diet. The court also dismissed various complaints about the content of halal meals served to plaintiff.

In Snodgrass v. Robinson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161517 (WD VA, Nov. 17, 2014), a Virginia federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to participate in the 2013 Ramadan fast.

In Amos v. Stolzer, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161557 (ED MO, Nov. 18, 2014), a Missouri federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed against a jail sergeant, but not against other defendants, in his complaint that he was denied halal food, a “hardback” Qur’an, a “prayer rug” and access to religious services with an Imam.  His Establishment Clause claim based on the absence of Muslim clergy on the authorized clergy list was dismissed.

In Pegues v. Billingsley, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161842 (CD IL, Nov. 19, 2014), an Illinois federal district court permitted a “vegetarian Ethiopian Jewish” pre-trial detainee to proceed with his complaint that he has been denied pastoral care from any religious volunteers, and has been denied the opportunity to meet with religious leaders in retaliation for his filing complaints.

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 16, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Glenn v. Liebel, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158195 (SD IN, Nov. 10, 2014), an Indiana federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his complaint that his Eastern Orthodox religion has not been included in the prison system’s Handbook of Religious Belief and Practices, and that he has been denied access to Eastern Orthodox religious services and various religious items.

In Muhammad v. Jenkins, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158481 (SD NY, Nov. 4, 2014), a New York federal district court rejected claims for injunctive relief but set for trial the damage action by plaintiff who claimed that the denial of a change in his parole curfew restrictions were motivated by religious hostility and prevented him from attending his Nation of Islam mosque.

In Guillory v. Jones County Jail, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159159 (SD MS, Nov. 12, 2014), a Mississippi federal district court permitted a Muslim pre-trial detainee’s claim that he was prevented from performing daily prayers because of cell overcrowding and was not given special Ramadan meals, a prayer rug or religious hat to proceed only against the sheriff in his official capacity.

In Hunter v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159739 (SD GA, Nov. 13, 2014), a Georgia federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claims under RLUIPA and the Establishment Clause that he enrolled in a faith-based program when a bottom bunk became available and he was told that he could teach Islam there, but instead he was forced to attend group sessions promoting Christianity 13 times per week.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 21, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Lemmon, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129217 (SD IN, Sept. 16, 2014), an Indiana federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint about a 30-day suspension of Jumah services.

In Grohs v. Santiago, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130139 (D NJ, Sept. 17, 2014 ( NJ, Sept. 17, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s complaint that he had to dispose of religious material because of lack of storage space.

In Brown v. Mathena, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130574 (WD VA, Sept. 16, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed various complaints by a Nation of Islam inmate that the Common Fare diet does not give him nutritional food that meets his religious dietary requirements.

In Martz v. Sci-Coal Twp. Therapeutic Community, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130823 (MD PA, Sept. 18, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his rights under the Establishment Clause were infringed when he was denied parole because he did not complete a substance abuse program allegedly religious in nature.

In Cowart v. Allen, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130693 (MD AL, Sept. 18, 2014), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommenation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131149, Aug. 26, 2014) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that prison policy denies tobacco use during Native American religious ceremonies, that guards interrupt ceremonies, limit access to fires and a sweat lodge, allow gang members on sacred ground and that the chaplain desecrated his religious objects.

In Short v. Martyn, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131352 (WD MI, Sept. 19, 2014), a Michigan federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed on a retaliation claim (but not a free exercise claim) against a corrections officer who fired plaintiff from his prison job after he attended a non-denominational Christian conference.

In Green v. Beck, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131647 (ED NC, Sept. 9, 2014), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a former inmate’s complaints about the handling of his request for recognition  of his religious name. He was ultimately issued a new identifcation card.

In Powers v. Clarke, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131886 (ED VA, Sept. 17, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that authorities refused to recognize Nation of Gods and Earths (Five Percenters) as a religion and instead have classified it as a gang and restricted distribution of its literature.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 14, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Johnson v. Brown, (11th Cir., Sept. 12, 2014), the 11th Circuit reversed an Alabama federal district court’s dismissal at the screening stage of a complaint that Sunnah Muslim inmates’ access to a classroom used as a Masjid for prayer was being limited, their prayer services were being interrupted or cancelled, Eid al-Adha was mishandled and plaintiff was not allowed to wear a kufi.

In Miller v. Lewright, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124584 (ED CA, Sept. 5, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Native American civil detainee that authorities refused to release to him a spiritual bead necklace that he had ordered from a private vendor.

In Utt v. Brown, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122602 (ED NC, Sept. 3, 2014), a North Carolina federal district court permitted a Wiccan inmate to proceed with his complaint about a policy that tarot cards are only for personal use, confiscation of his homemade religious items, a prohibition on his practicing sacred Esbats and denial of corporate worship.

In Vigil v. Raemisch, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124986 (D CO, Sept. 8, 2014), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124985, Aug. 15, 2014), and dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that he was not allowed to wear a Mohawk haircut.

In Henderson v. Hedgpeth, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125315 (ND CA, Sept. 8, 2014), a California federal district court dismissed with partial leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s complaint that authorities failed to provide Muslim prayer services or a full-time chaplain, have not purchased various Muslim religious items (Qurans, prayer rugs, oils, books), have not allowed group breaking of the Ramadan fast or allowed ordering of Halal food.

In Desmond v. Phelps, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126428 (D DE, Sept. 10, 2014), a Delaware federal district court allowed a Jewish inmate to join in a suit by Sunni-Salafi and Catholic inmates raising issues regarding the practice of religion at a Delaware prison. The court denied a preliminary injunction relating to retaliation claims by one of the Catholic plaintiffs.

In Elmore v. Saunders, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126978 (MD NC,Sept. 11, 2014), a North Carolina federal district court denied the free exercise claim of an inmate who alleged that he could not pray during four days in a close observation cell because he was handcuffed and denied water to cleanse himself.

In Cejas v. Myers, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127008 (ED CA, Sept. 10, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with partial leave to amend, a Buddhist inmate’s complaint that Buddhists were denied chapel time while on C-status, and failed to fill a vacant chaplain position.

In Walters v. Livingston, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127630 (WD TX, Sept. 12, 2014), a Texas federal magistrate judge dismissed on various grounds claims by a Native American inmate (who now has been released after completing his sentence) that he was wrongly transferred to a non-Native American unit after he was disciplined and not provided accommodations to practice his faith there. Defendants’ counterclaim for attorneys’ fees was also dismissed.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 7, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jenkins v. Meyers, (9th Cir., Sept. 4, 2014), the 9th Circuit upheld a prison’s action in returning a package containing religious prayer oil sent by an unapproved religious vendor.

In Woodward v. Perez, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121329 (SD NY, Aug. 29, 2014), a New York federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity and mootness grounds a Muslim inmate’s complaint that his religious rights were infringed when he was requied to shower in the presence of a female officer and a “known homosexual” fellow-inmate.

In Lindsey v. Butler, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121364 (SD NY, Aug. 29, 2014), a New York federal district court permitted a Black Sunni Muslim plaintiff to proceed with his claim that his free exercise and 4th Amendment rights were infringed when police forcibly shave his facial hair for purposes of a police lineup.

In Green v. Director/Secretary California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121485 (SD CA, Aug. 29, 2014), a California federal district court permitted a Native American inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied access to a sweat lodge, was harassed and intimidated, and had his religious items confiscated.

In Rowe v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123884 (SD IN, Sept. 5, 2014), an Indiana federal district court rejected claims by a White Supremacist inmate who was a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian (the religious arm of Aryan Nations) that policies of the Indiana Department of Corrections interfered with his abillity to practice his religion. The challenged policies involved security threat groups, offender visitation, property limits, offender correspondence and a policy that prevents him from wearing a swastika necklace.

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 2, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Kilgore v. Gerlicher, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119578 (D MN, Aug. 8, 2014), a Mionnesota federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were substantially burdened by the Department of Corrections designating Nation of Gods and Earths as a security threat group.

In Green v. Hawkinberry, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120020 (WD PA, Aug. 28, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge permitted an inmate to proceed against all but one defendant with his complaint that he was wrongfullydenied a kosher diet.

In Muhammad v. Pearson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120396 (ED VA, Aug. 22, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Nation of Islam inmate that he was denied study guides, DVD’s, and a second NOI meeting. The court did not dismiss, pending a motion to do so, plaintiff’s complaint that he was unable to have NOI meetings while on lockdown.

In Guillory v. Ellis, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120709 (ND NY, Aug. 29, 2014), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed a suit in which plaintiff claimed defendant caused him to miss one religious service and there was a shortened Purim celebration.

In Shabazz v. Giurbino, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121037 (ED CA, Aug. 28, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to move forward with some of his claims alleging that he received Halal meals containing meat only once a day (the others were vegetarian) while Jewish prisoners received kosher meat meals three times a day.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 31, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Phillip v. Schriro, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117720 (SD NY, Aug. 22, 2014), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with most of his claims that his free exercise rights were violated when he was denied participation in Friday Jumu’ah services while in punitive segregation.

In Vann v. Fischer, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118247 (SD NY, Aug. 25, 2014), a New York federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Santeria practitioner that his religious rights were violated by Directives requiring that he obtain approval to wear his religious beads, conceal them while wearing them, and not wear them while in transit.

In Moon v. Pratte, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118707 (ED MO, Aug. 26, 2014), a Missouri federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed with his claims for religious discrimination. Plaintiff had claimed denial of halal food, a clean place to pray, Islamic religious materials, and services or speakers.

In Ex parte Herrera, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 9511 (TX App., Aug. 26, 2014), a Texas state appeals court denied habeas corpus relief to petitioner, in pre-trial home confinement under charges of sexually assaulting a child, who was barred from attending church services as a condition of his electronic monitoring.

In Kyles v. Chartier, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119270 (D SC, Aug. 26, 2014), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and held that the religious exercise of a Hebrew Messianic Yisraelite inmate was not substantially burdened by allowing him to worship with the Jewish congregation but not in separate services.

In Hoeck v. Miklich, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119490 (D CO, Aug. 27, 2014), a Colorado federal district court denied injunctive relief to an inmate who claimed that authroties were preventing him from observing his religion of Biblical Christianity that has its own times for various holidays and its own dietary requirements. The court concluded that the relief requested either related to past events or was too vague to implement.

In Williamson v. Twaddell, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119566 (CD IL, Aug. 25, 2014), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Messianic Black Hebrew Israelite inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied kosher meals, access to Messianic service, baptism, a prayer cap and a [email protected] religious book.

In Farrad v. Evans, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119704 (SD NY, Aug. 15, 2014), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied Islamic services and ministerial consultation while he was in the prison’s medical ward.

In Lloyd v. City of New York, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119706 (SD NY, Aug. 4, 2014), a New York federal district court allowed Muslim inmates held at Rikers Island to move ahead with their complaint that they were not provided adequate or appropriate worship space, but dismissed their complaint that they were not furnished an adequate supply of religious materials.

Prisoner free exercise cases – August 29, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smart v. Aramark Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113266 (D NJ, Aug. 15, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court reaffirmed its prior holding that an inmate, who variously claimed his relgion as Muslim or Jewish, did not have his ability to practice his religion affected by his inability to have his beard at the prison’s kitchen.

In Fields v. Martin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114224 (ED MI, Aut.18, 2014), a Michigan federal district court accepted a magistrate’s report and rejected an inmate’s claim that his Buddhist religion required him to have a vegan diet.

In Nelson v. Jackson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115111 (SD OH, Aug. 19, 2014), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended rejecting a Jewish inmate’s complaint that he was served meat and dairy products during the same meal and was required to cook or reheat his kosher meals in a microwave on the Sabbath.

In Mason v. Clear Creek County, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115840 (D CO, Aug. 20, 2014), a Colorado district court, while dismissing a number of claims unrelated to prison conditions, permitted a Messianic Hebrew inmate to proceed with his claim that he was denied a religious diet and subjected to religious persecution.

In Hardy v. Agee, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115488 (WD MI, Aug. 20, 2014), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Muslim inmate that because of his refusal to take a job in the kitchen he was placed on room restriction and was prevented from attending Islamic services and classes.

In Chau v. Young, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116252 (ND CA, Aug. 20, 2014), a California federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Muslim inmate that a “modified program” imposed after a prison riot prevented his participation in Friday prayers, Islamic study classes and Ramadan observance with other inmates.

In Hunter v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116156 (SD GA, Aug. 20, 2014), a Georgia federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was coerced into participating in a Christian faith-based program.

In Annabel v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116440 (WD MI, Aug. 21, 2014), a Michigan federal district court rejected an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when correctional officers mocked his Judaic Christian religion. It also rejected his claim that he was rataliated against for settling a lawsuit granting him a kosher diet.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 27, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Legate v. Stephens, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98442 (SD TX, July 21, 2014), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed a complaint by a Native American inmate that he was not permitted to have long hair or a kouplock, smoke from a sacred pipe, and carry a medicine bag outside his cell.

In Germain v. Shearin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99159 (D MD, July 21, 2014), a Maryland federal district court refused to dismiss because of a genuine issue of material fact a Muslim inmate’s complaint that in 2013 inmates observing the Ramadan fast did not receive sufficient calories in their meals.

In Heath v. Lewis, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100809 (WD PA, July 24, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed as moot an inmate’s complaint that he was denied Jewish reading material from the chaplaincy library, and also dismissed his claim regard kosher food.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 23, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Chavis v. United States, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96940 (D NJ, July 17, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed without prejudice a claim by an inmate that his free exercise rights were infringed when a correctional officer conducted a pat-down search of him in a “homosexual manner.”

In Sharp v. Gay, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97825 (D AZ, July 18, 2014), an Arizona federal district court, after a 3-day bench trial, held that a prison’s policy allowing Native American inmates to obtain wood for sweat ceremonies only by in-kind donations from family or friends outside the prison violates RLUIPA. The court ordered prison officials to set up a group religious account to allow for inmate and outside financial contributions for the purchase and delivery of firewood. The court however rejected plaintiff’s equal protection claim seeking an additional religious meeting time each week for Native Americans.

In Randolph v. Griffin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97369 (WD NY, July 16, 2014), a New York federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to proceed with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when a correctional officer ordered him to remove his yarmulke indoors (including in his cell) and then permanently confiscated it.

AFP reports that in France on July 22, a court ruled that a prison need not furnish Muslim prisoners halal food, since they can obtain meals without pork or vegetarian meals, can purchase halal meat and recieve special meals during the main holidays.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 13, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Holland v. Goord, (2d Cir., July 10, 2014), the 2nd Circuit, reversing in part a district court’s decision, held that ordering a Muslim inmate to drink water in violation of his Ramadan fast in order to provide a urine sample substantially burdened his free exercise rights.

In McCormack v. Reinke, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91356 (D ID, July 2, 2014), an Idaho federal district court dismissed for failure to prosecute a Native American inmate’s complaint regarding tearing down of the prison’s sweat lodge and alleged retaliation for complaining that failure to provide wood for the sweat lodge violated a previous settlement agreement.

In Villapando v. CDCR, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91965 (ED CA, July 3, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that a change in allowable religious property omitted certain items necessary for Native American religious practices.

In Hines v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92474 (SD IL, July 8, 2014), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with various 1st Amendment, RLUIPA and 8th Amendment claims alleging that the vegetarian diet provided to him did not meet Halal requirements, and that he was retaliated against for complaining about non-halal turkey chili served to him.

In Mauwee v. Cox, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93241 (D NV, July 9, 2014), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93239, June 17, 2014) and dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that a corrections officer desecrated his religious group’s ceremonial deer antlers. Defendant mistakenly ordered the antlers to be blunted to 8 inches instead of the allowable 18 inches.

In Salas v. Gomez, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93536 (ND CA, July 9, 2014), a California federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to proceed with his complaint that his food has been inedible and does not meet kosher standards, and that he is being denied access to Jewish scriptures.

In Baumgarten v. Maryland Division of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93601 (D MD, July 10, 2014), a Maryland federal district court dismissed both for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and on the merits a claim by a Jewish inmate that he was denied kosher meals, and a corrections officer ripped the cover off his religious book.

In Irvin v. James, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94064 (ED CA, July 9, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge recommended permitting a Muslim inmate to proceed on his complaint that after the former chaplain left officials denied chapel access, special food for festivals, and receipt of religious packages, and delayed hiring a new Muslim chaplain.

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 6, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ford v. Bureau of Prisons, (3d Cir., June 30, 2014), the 3rd Circuit dismissed the complaint of a Nation of Islam inmate that he was not provided a meal after his fast on two holy days. The court also rejected his claim that discipline for a radical sermon he gave was retaliation.

In Lackey v. Midget, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87289 (ED VA, June 25, 2014), a Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on one evening he received an incomplete Ramadan meal.

In Lewis v. Hirsh, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84648 (ED CA, June 20, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge gave an inmate 30 days to amend his pleadings, or else face dismissal of his complaint that  prison authorities are attempting to cause him to violate his Christian Science faith by classifying him as a high medical risk.

In Spight v. Davidson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85671 (MD TN, June 23, 2014), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed a suit by a Seventh Day Adventist inmate who complained that officials would only allow him a vegetarian diet, and not a kosher diet that includes meat.

In Mingo v. Fischer, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87231 (ND NY, June 26, 2014), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a prison staff member made disparaging remarks about his religion.

In Tate v. Dickinson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86577 (ED CA, June 24, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he is limited to purchasing only 5 pre-selected fragrances of prayer oils.

In Joe v. Nelson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87560 (MD GA, June 27, 2014), a Georgia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that unsanitary conditions in his cell meant that he had to wipe the floor before his daily prayers and on one day he could not perform 4 of his 5 daily prayers because of water flooding his cell.

In Johnson v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87978 (SD CA, June 23, 2014), a California federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s complaint that the assistant warden would not authorize him to participate in the Ramadan fast.

In Mohamad v. Wenerowicz, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89225 (ED PA, June 30, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was unable to pray on a single day when he was kept in handcuffs for over two hours.

In Taylor v. Pearson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87657 (SD AL, June 27, 2914), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88358, June 2, 2014) and dismissed without prejudice a suit by an inmate claiming his free exercise rights were infringed when he was required to cut his hair and sideburns in an unsanitary barbering facility. The dismissal was a sanction for plaintiff’s failure to list in his application for in forma pauperis status 6 prior suits he had filed.

In Williams v. Roberts, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89015 (ED CA, June 27, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when a commissioner at his parole hearing questioned his repeated changes in religious belief. Plaintiff had failed to follow through on either Alcoholics Anonymous or an Islam-based program for rehabilitation.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 24, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Powers v. Coleman, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 11667 (7th Cir., June 20, 2014), the 7th Circuit refused to overturn a jury’s verdict that a Messianic Jewish inmate did not have a sincere religious belief that he needed a kosher diet.

In Sharrieff v. Moore, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82460 (MD PA, June 16, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint seeking separate religious services and a separate fast during December for Nation of Islam inmates.

In Oliver v. Adams, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80519 (ED CA, June 10, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a complaint by an inmate who is an adherent of Shetaut Neter who claims he is being denied a prayer rug, a religious diet, worship services, and religious programming on in-house television while he is in the special housing unit.

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81780 (D HI, June 13, 2014), a Hawaii federal district court in a very long opinion dealt with claims by Native Hawaiian inmates housed at private prisons in Arizona that their free exercise, RLUIPA and equal protection rights are being infringed as to their daily worship practices, the observance of Makahiki, and access to sacred items, sacred space and a spiritual advisor. The court held that there are genuine issues of fact remaining as to various of the claims.

In Adkins v. Shinn, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81953 (D HI, June 16, 2014), a Hawaii federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints about lack of visits from an Imam an difficulty in obtaining a Qur’an, other books and a kufi. However the court permitted him to proceed on his complaint that a kosher diet was substituted for his halal diet.

 

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 22, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Abdul-Aziz v. Ricci, (3d Cir, June 16, 2014), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s complaint that Muslim inmates were served vegetarian meals while donated meals with Halal meat were refused, and that he was not permitted to have prayer oil in his cell. Dismissal of his complaints of retaliation were also affirmed.

In Cotton v. Cate, (9th Cir., June 16, 2014), the 9th Circuit reversed the dismissal of a Shetaut Neter inmate’s RLUIPA claim for a Kemetic diet, holding that the government had not adequately shown there was not a less restrictive alternative to denying plaintiff’s food request.

In Ali v. Wingert, (10th Cir., June 19, 2014), the 10th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he had problems with his mail being processed when it contained only his religious name without also including his committed name.

In Stigler-El v. Stilwell, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79939 (SD IN, June 11, 2014), an Indiana federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim of discrimination against his Moorish precepts of Islamism, but with leave to show why judgment should not issue.

In Alexander v. Michigan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79271 (WD MI, June 11, 2014), a Michigan federal district court, although dismissing a number of defendants on immunity grounds, permitted an inmate to proceed against the warden, the chaplain and the state on his complaint that authorities refused to recognize separately and accommodate the practices of the Ismaili branch of the Moorish Science Temple.

In Oram v. Linderman, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78836 (D AZ, June 9, 2014),an Arizona federal district court dismissed complaints of an inmate who is a gentile practitioner of Torah Observant Messianic Judaism that weekly religious services are limited to 60 minutes (instead of the 3 hours he requested) and that there are limits on the size of prayer shawls.

In West v. Grams, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82030 (WD WI, June 16, 2014), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge amended his former order that improperly dismissed a Muslim inmate’s RLUIPA claim for injunctive relief on qualified immunity grounds, and instead dismissed it on mootness grounds because plaintiff has been transferred to a new prison. The underlying claim related to availability of religious services and alleged retaliation.

In Desmond v. Phelps, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81874 (D DE, June 16, 2014), a Delaware federal district court denied a motion for injunctive relief by inmates who claimed discrimination against Catholics in access to religious services, religious leaders and accommodation of various religious practices after certain Catholic volunteers were banned from the facility.

In Evans v. Godinez, 2014 IL App (4th) 130686-U (IL App., June 18, 2014), an Illinois state appellate court upheld a prison’s refusal to provide study groups and prayer services for Nation of Islam inmates.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 29, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Kaufman v. Pugh, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84532 (WD WI, June 20, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed a complaint by a now-released prisoner that authorities refused to authorize an atheist study group. Injuntive relief was dismissed as moot, and a damage claim dismissed on qualified immunity grounds.

In Staple v. Commonwealth, 2014 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 388 (PA Commnw. Ct., June 26, 2014), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court denied both a writ of mandamus and a declaratory judgment to an inmate seeking return of several religious books that were confiscated because he had altered him.

In Neal-El v. Beitzel, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84943 (D MD, June 23, 2014), a Maryland federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that for one week he was removed from the list of those permitted to attend Moorish Science Temple services while officials investigated an unfounded report that he was involved in activities jeopardizing security.

In Marron v. Miller, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86629 (WD VA, June 24, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that his religious books were confiscated as contraband because they were inscribed with his religious name rather than the name recognized by the prison system.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 15, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jones v. Conrad, (8th Cir., June 2, 2014), the 8th Circuit upheld the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was denied permission to receive two religious publications sent to him through the mail. He failed to show that the denial substantially burdened his ability to practice his religion.

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74934 (D HI, June 2, 2014), a Hawaii federal district court refused to reconsider its prior denial of summary judgment to defendants on Native Hawaiian inmates’ complaints that they were denied daily outdoor group worship; and were denied daily access to amulets and bamboo nose flutes. However reconsideration was granted as to inmates’ lack of access to certain other sacred items. The court also dismissed certain claims for prospective equitable relief as moot.

In Porter v. Biter, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77476 (ED CA, June 4, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a Muslim inmate’s attempt to obtain an order allowing him to change his legal name to a religious name and to use the religious name during normal prison activities such as sending and receiving mail.

In Cole v. Danberg, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77773 (D DE, June 6, 2014), a Delaware federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with many of his claims for injunctive relief growing out of alleged religious discrimination, denial of right to observe Islamic holidays and have congregational prayer, and refusal to allow the Islamic community to raise funds.

In Schlemm v. Frank, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78601 (WD WI, June 10, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed, partly on exhaustion and partly on substantive grounds, a complaint by a Native American inmate seeking sweat lodge ceremonies on a weekly basis, a Ghost Feast meal that includes wild game, and the right to wear multicolor headbands. a ribbon shirt, bear-claw jewelry and a personal pipe.

In Lindsey v. Bradley, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78856 (SD IL, June 9, 2014), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Rastafarian inmate to proceed with his complaint that his dreadlocks were forcibly cut.

In Davis v. Hubler, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78835 (ED NC, June 10, 2014), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Nation of Islam inmate that he was not permitted to receive the weekly publication Final Call.

In Glenn v. Wilson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79303 (ND IN, June 10, 2014), an Indiana federal district court dismissed a complaint by an Eastern Orthodox inmate that he was unable to attend Eastern Orthodox religious services first when he was placed in administrative segregation and then when he was transferred to a prison without Orthodox services.

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 1, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Funtanilla v. Williams, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71354 (ED CA, May 22, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge allowed a Seventh Day Adventist inmate housed at a substance abuse treatment center to move forward against most of the defendants with his complaint that he was not permitted to place a copy of the Ten Commandments above his door, get his meals for the Sabbath ahead of time or delivered, and attend worship services.

In Rivera v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72325 (WD MI, May 28, 2014), a Michigan federal district court permitted Moorish Science inmate to proceed against certain of the defendants for an injunction to require recognition of  Moorish Science Temple of America-1928 as a separate religious group from Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc., (1934 Portion).

In Smart v. Aramark Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73106 (D NJ, May 29, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that prison rules requiring inmates who work in the kitchen to shave their facial hair discriminates against Muslim, Jewish and Christian inmates who wear beards for religious reasons.

In Free v. Ellis, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73118 (D NJ, May 29, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s claim that he was not allowed to attend religious services for a 15-month period.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 18, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Malipurathu v. Johnson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64891 (ND OK, May 12, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court permitted a Sikh inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied a Halal diet unless he changed his religious choice to Islam, and that he was not consistently being served halal meals that met his religious requirements even though he was put on a halal diet.

In Rodriguez v. Hubbard, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65165 (ED CA, May 9, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Native American inmate who was recognized as a sacred “pipe holder” to move ahead with his 1st, 8th and 14th Amendment claims growing out of the confiscation of religious items, an attack on him by other Native American inmates for not safeguarding the sacred pipe, and other infringements on his religious practices.

In Patterson v. Cate, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65182 (ED CA, May 8, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Mulim inmate’s complaint that he was not receiving three Halal meal per day.

In Maier v. Pall, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65270 (MD PA, May 13, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed the complaint of an Odinist inmate who was refused an exemption from the grooming policy as to hair and beard length, and was not allowed to possess runestones and a Thor’s hammer or observe holy days outside.

In Aron v. Green, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65287 (ND TX, May 12, 2014), a Texas federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that a corrections officer told him that he should not be a Muslim, and that destruction of his personal property and other harassment was retaliation because of his religion.

In Hayes v. Boone, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66420 (ED VA, May 14, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his Common Fare religious diet was suspended temporarily when the prison experienced an influx of inmates from elsewhere evacuated because of Hurricane Irene.

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 11, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In DePaola v. Virginia Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61165 (WD VA, May 2, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a claim by a Nation of Islam inmate that subjecting him to a TB screening test violates his RLUIPA rights, and remanded to a magistrate plaintiff’s claim that he was denied a diet that complies with his religious beliefs.

In Brames v. Hodge, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61591 (SD IL, May 5, 2014), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Hebrew Israelite inmate to proceed with his complaint that the prison chaplain refused to allow him to attend Jewish services and celebrations and be placed on a kosher diet, that the prison physician refused to certify him for a no-bean kosher diet, and that various defendants ignored his grievances on these matters.

In Davis v. Doe, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63437 (MD NC, May 8, 2014), a North Carolina federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by a policy, of which he had not been informed, that prohibited him from using the rest room during a religious service.

In Ajala v. West, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63544 (WD WI, May 8, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with complaints that he was denied a halal diet, but dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a claim that he was required to sign a statement that a vegan/vegetarian diet satisfied his religious needs.

In Watkins v. Fox, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64294 (ND FL, May 9, 2014), a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that he was denied the use of prayer oils. The court also dismissed a prison chaplain as a defendant.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 27, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber, (8th Cir., April 25, 2014), the 8th Circuit affirmed a district court’s conclusion that South Dakota correctional officials violated RLUIPA by banning Native American inmates’ use of tobacco for religious purposes. Defendants failed to showthat the tobacco ban is the least restrictive means of furthering their compelling government interest.

In Hoeck v. Timme, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55059 (D CO, April 21, 2014), a Colorado federal district court found no merit in an inmate’s challenge to his conviction in a habeas proceeding complaining that his court appointed counsel would only meet with him between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset, the Sabbath for petitioner.

In Merrick v. Ryan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55738 ( AZ, April 17, 2014), an Arizona federal district court remanded to state court a suit in which an inmate, under his complaint as amended, claimed that the denial of religious materials violated Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act.  In his amended complaint he removed all references to federal law.

In Gunderson v. Pharis, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55431 (ND IL, April 22, 2014), an Illinois federal district court dismissed on the basis of Younger abstention claims of plaintiff, a Hindu, that he was denied conjugal visits and was given inadequate time for yoga, all of which burdened his religious practices.  Plaintiff is being held at a mental health facility under an ongoing treatment plan after being found not guilty by reason of insanity. The court also dismissed on the merits plaintiffs complaint that he did not have access to an appropriate Hindu spiritual leader.

In Dodds v. Quintero, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56487 (D CO, April 23, 2014), a Colorado federal district court dismissed discrimination and free exercise claims by an African-American inmate who practices Judaism against a sheriff’s deputy who allegedly greeted plaintiff with the words “Asalam Walakim” while plaintiff was waiting for his kosher breakfast.

In Pouncil v. Tilton, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56786 (ED CA, April 22, 2014), a California federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move forward with his claim that his rights under RLUIPA were violated by a rule that barred inmates serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole from having conjugal visits.

In George v. County of Westchester, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57185 (SD NY, April 10, 2014), a New York federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to move ahead with  his complaint of denial of Jewish congregate religious services and inadequate hot water and microwave oven for preparation of his kosher food.

In Payne v. Duncan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57335 (MD PA, April 23, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when his books were confiscated and discarded, preventing him from studying his religion.

In JCG v. Ercole, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57417 (SD NY, April 24, 2014), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Messianic Jewish inmate be permitted to move forward with his complaint that the prison’s Jewish chaplain refused to approve kosher meals for him or his attendance at Jewish religious services and Jewish holiday celebrations.

 

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 13, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Blaine v. California Health Care Facility, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33686 (ED CA, March 12, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s claim that he has not been allowed to attend church.

In Williams v. Champagne, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47753 (ED LA, April 6, 2014), a Louisiana federal district court permitted a Rastafarian inmate who was placed in lock down for refusing to cut his dreadlocks to proceed with his RLUIPA challenge to the prison’s hair policy.

In Harris v. Ellis, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48604 (ED CA, April 8, 2014), a Muslim inmate challenged a prison’s policy to serve him only a symbolic portion of lamb for his Eid-ul-Adah meal. A California federal district court dismissed the claim because the request for injunctive relief is moot and damages are not recoverable under RLUIPA.

In Potts v. Holt, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49176 (MD PA, April 8, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the religious diet program was discontinued for 2 weeks during a prison lock down necessitated by the outbreak of food poisoning among inmates who ate in the regular meal program. Plaintiff did not eat the food served him during the lock down for fear he would be removed from the religious diet program for doing so.

In Khadzhimurad v. Sacramento County Sheriff Department, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49876 (ED CA, April 9, 2014), a Muslim inmate complained that halal meals had been replaced by vegetarian meals.  A California federal magistrate judge held that while plaintiff may have a 1st Amendment or RLUIPA claim, his pleadings presently do not set out one. The court dismissed the complaint but provided that an amended complaint may be filed.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 8, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Gutierrez v. Corrections Corporation of America, (5th Cir., April 3, 2014), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed as frivolous a Catholic inmate’s complaint that only non-denominational (apparently Protestant-oriented) programming from the Trinity Broadcasting Network is carried in the prison, and the prison does not furnish programming from the Catholic-oriented Eternal Word Broadcasting Network.

In Hughes v. Heimgartner, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45867 (D KA, April 3, 2014), a Muslim inmate complained that he was refused halal meals while in segregation. A Kansas federal district court ordered prison officials to investigate the matter, consider whether other similar complaints are related, and file a report with the court on whether action can and should be taken.

In Crews-Bey v. Price, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44313 (ND AL, April 1, 2014), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45394, March 4, 2014) and dismissed for lack of standing an inmate’s complaint that prison rules do not allow Moorish Science ordained ministers and Temple heads to perform marriage ceremonies for adherents incarcerated in Alabama prisons.

In Darrough v. Allen, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45917 (MD GA, April 3, 2014), a Georgia federal district court refused to allow an inmate to file an amended complaint alleging generally that he is being harassed by the warden because of his religious beliefs.

In Pfeil v. Lampert, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46389 (D WY, March 31, 2014), a Wyoming federal district court dismissed a Catholic inmate’s complaints that a religious volunteer, on a single occasion, was not permitted entry to provide Catholic services, and that a new policy prohibiting hardbound books in living quarters caused him to lose his religious books.

In Browning v. McDonnell, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46578 (WD VA, April 4, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed as frivolous an inmate’s claim for $10 million in damages because Art. I, Sec. 16 of the Virginia Constitution that refers to “the duty which we owe to our Creator” and  “Christian forbearance” forces him to worship against his conscience and makes Christianity the official state religion.

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 6, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Governor for the State of Alabama, (11th Cir., April 2, 2014), the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a number of claims by an Odinist inmate, including his complaint that he was denied religious items (rune container, leather folder for study materials, quartz crystal and outdoor fire pit); claims of retaliation; security threat group designation; destruction of his artwork; and his challenge to the prison’s faith-based honor dorm.

In McKinley v. Maddox, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40889 (WD OK, March 27, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted in modified form a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42243, March 4, 2014), and dismissed without prejudice a former inmate’s suit complaining that he was not permitted to attend off-site religious services. The dismissal was a sanction for plaintiff’s failure to appear at a scheduled deposition.

In Debardelaben v. McKeon, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40526 (WD MI, March 27, 2014), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41916, March 6, 2014) and dismissed on qualified immunity grounds an inmate’s complaint that he was wrongly removed from the kosher diet program for having purchased non-kosher food from the prison store. Plaintiff was permitted to proceed with a retaliation claim.

In Shapiro v. Community First Services, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42459 (ED NY, March 27, 2014), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s 1st Amendment Bivens action against a privately-owned halfway house to which he was sentenced for violating probation. Plaintiff claimed he was not given sufficient time to travel to attend Quaker services on Sundays.

In Riehl v. Martin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42870 (ND NY, March 31, 2014), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186610, Dec. 19, 2013) and permitted a Jewish inmate to proceed with his 1st Amendment (but not his RLUIPA) damage claim alleging that some of the food served to him during Passover 2012 was not kosher for Passover.

In Heard v. Finco, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43048 (WD MI, March 31, 2014), a Michigan federal district court permitted Muslim inmates to proceed with their claims alleging that they received inadequate amounts of food in their Ramadan meals in violation of the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA. Their 8th Amendment claims were dismissed. The magistrate’s recommendations in the case are at 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45458, Feb. 25, 2014.

In Hampton v. Wetzel, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43207 (MD PA, March 31, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed against certain defendants on his complaint that authorities refused to provide him with a medically prescribed therapeutic diet tray at times to permit observance of the Ramadan fast. 

In Ind v. Colorado Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43461 (D CO, March 31, 2014), a Colorado federal district court held that the free exercise rights under RLUIPA of an inmate of the Christian Separatist faith were violated by limiting him to possessing two books while in administrative segregation.

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43966 (D HI, March 31, 2014), an Hawaiian federal district court, in an opinion that extensively discusses Native Hawaiian religious rituals, permitted Hawaiian inmates housed in private prison facilities in Arizona to move ahead with their complaints regarding denial of daily outdoor group worship and possession of certain sacred items. Claims regarding a number of other infringements of religious practices were dismissed.

In Seymore v. City of New York, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44951 (SD NY, March 26, 2014), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate’s complaint that during Ramadan 2012 religious services were cancelled or curtailed.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 30, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jackson v. Nixon, (8th Cir., March 28, 2014), the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision reversing the district court held that an atheist inmate adequately pled that requiring him to complete a substance abuse program with religious content to be eligible for early parole violates the Establishment Clause.  Judge Smith dissented arguing that the inmate suffered no punishment when he withdrew from the substance abuse program and other avenues for early parole were available.

In Vega v. Rell, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38199 (D CT, March 24, 2014), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints that the prison commissary falsely labeled Jolly Rancher candies as Halal; that cheese on the Common Fare menu was not halal; that prison prayer rugs were dirty; and that he was not allowed to purchase a digital Qur’an or Islamic educational CDs.

In White v. Dooley, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38859 (D SD, March 25, 2014), a South Dakota federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to certain religious items, hardcover religious books and religious study classes.

In Van Buren v. Coy, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39756 (WD KY, March 26, 2014), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied religious services by being placed in segregation.

In Davis v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38763 (WD MI, March 25, 2014), a Muslim inmate alleged that he suffered food poisoning after eating items from his Ramadan food bag that were left unrefrigerated for many hours, and subsequently he only ate items from his food bag that did not require refrigeration. A Michigan federal district court held that this did not amount to a free exercise violation because, while he may have preferred more or different food, he did not show that this imposed a substantial burden on his free exercise.

In Maloney v. Ryan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39360 (D AZ, March 25, 2014), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s claim for damages under the free exercise clause finding that defendants had qualified immunity. No legal authority put them on notice that providing Ramadan breakfast before sunrise, rather than before dawn, violated inmates’ constitutional rights. As to injunctive relief, the court gave defendants 30 days to show that their subsequent change in the breakfast policy is permanent.

In Bey v. Virginia, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39636 (ED VA, March 20, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Moorish American Moslem inmate that he was denied a vegetarian diet, and that in court proceedings, the judge told him to remove his “religious national headdress,” did not use his “free national name,” and called him “black”instead of Moor.

In Plummer v. Riley, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40654 (D SC, March 26, 2014), a South Carolina federal district court adopted most of a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42250, Feb. 26, 2014), and permitted a Rastafarian inmate to proceed with his complaint that he must sign up to attend religious services, cannot attend Rastafarian study groups and was suspended from chapel by the chaplain in retaliation for filing a grievance against him for his not allowing Rastafarians to celebrate Kwanza.

In Ballard v. Johns, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41069 (ED NC, March 27, 2014), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Catholic civil detainee held as a sexually dangerous person that he was denied religious services while in administrative segregation.

In Dunn v. Kentucky Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41640 (WD KY, March 28, 2014), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed a complaint by an Odinist (Astaru) inmate (1) that he is only allowed to buy the Thor’s Hammer medallion that is available from the approved vendor, and it is of poor quality and features Celtic artwork; and (2) he is not permitted to own a set of personal rune stones.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 23, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Tennyson v. Carpenter, (10th Cir., March 18, 2014), the 10th Circuit held that a federal district court wrongly dismissed as frivolous a Christian inmate’s RLUIPA, 1st Amendment and retaliation claims growing out his suspension from the prison’s “Praise Team” choir after choir music binders he kept in his cell were confiscated, and he filed a grievance over the incident.

In Oliver v. Harner, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34137 (SD IL, March 17, 2014), an Illinois federal district court permitted an African-American inmate to proceed with his free exercise and equal protection complaints that the Caucasian chaplain and Caucasian warden denied him a kosher diet that conforms to African Hebrew Israelite beliefs. However the court denied a temporary restraining order and dismissed without prejudice plaintiff’s conspiracy claims.

In Halloum v. Ryan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35077 (D AZ, March 18, 2014), an Arizona federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was denied a religious shaving waiver. A number of other claims were dismissed, including complaints that the chaplain rejected donated copies of the Qur’an and Muslim inmates were denied communal prayer on two mornings during Ramadan.

In Browning v. Seifert, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35232 (ND WV, March 18, 2014), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35237, Jan. 28, 2014) and allowed an Orthodox Jewish inmate to proceed against most of the defendants on his complaint that he was denied him a kosher diet, the ability to wear religious apparel, and the right to worship weekly and on special holidays.

In Irby v. Cain, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35419 (MD LA, March 17, 2014), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35123, Feb. 19. 2014) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that he was retaliated against for refusing to attend a religious call-out at prison. The court concluded that the action taken against the inmate was merely de minimis adverse action.

In Roberts v. Schofield, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35222 (MD TN, March 18, 2014), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge refused to grant preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of a vegan-type Kosher diet in Tennessee prisons.

In Bush v. Donovan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35325 (SD CA, March 17, 2014), a California federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that, among other things, he was denied a Qur’an and hindered in the practice of his Muslim faith.

In Long v. Stanislaus County Superior Court, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35407 (ED CA, March 17, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge, relying on 11th Amendment immunity, dismissed (with leave to amend) an inmate’s claim against a state court for forcing him to violate his religious objections to participating in psychology. The state court had ordered him to be evaluated by psychologists, given medication and placed in a mental hospital.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 19, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Kyles v. Chartier, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32623 (D SC, March 13, 2014), a South Carolina federal district court upheld prison authorities’ decision to permit an inmate to keep only 5 of his 19 books which he claimed he needed for a religious correspondence course.

In Gadsden v. Carpenter, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32660 (D NV, March 13, 2014), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32662, Jan. 29, 2014) and dismissed plaintiffs’ claim that the flattening of religious grounds used by pagan inmates violated their free exercise rights. The court also rejected claims that officials retaliated against plaintiffs for filing grievances regarding the destruction of the pagan grounds.

In Pagan v. Westchester County, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33408 (SD NY, March 12, 2014), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33066, Feb. 3, 2014), and, while dismissing a number of claims, permitted inmates to move forward on (1) a complaint by Catholic inmates that they were no longer allowed to attend mass after they switched their religious designations in order to get kosher food merely because other food was undercooked and insufficient in amount; and (2) complaints by Muslim inmates that halal meals were undercooked and served on moldy trays, and the only alternative offered was a bologna sandwich that is in violation of religious dietary rules.

In Pino v. Ladd, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33858 (ED CA, March 14, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a Native American inmate’s complaint that during a search of the Native American sweat lodge, authorities destroyed the fire pit, sacred mound, prayer ties and “nests of baby migratory birds.”

In Cooper v. New Hampshire State Prison, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33875 (D NH, March 13, 2014), a New Hampshire federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on two occasions he was served meals that contained pork.

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 9, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wiseman v. Cate, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26373 (ED CA, Feb….

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 2, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Yah’Torah v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, 2014 N.J….

Prisoner free exercise cases – February 23, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Howard v. Connett, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19231 (D NV, Feb….

Prisoner free exercise cases – January 12, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ghailani v. Holder, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1986 (D CO, Jan….

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 29, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jenkins v. Urbina, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169072 (ED CA, Nov….

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 15, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In McBryde v. Thomas, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169260 (D MT, Nov….

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 24, 2013

Howard Freidman, Religion Clause

In Ricks v. Albitre, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163200 (ED CA, Nov….

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 10, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Whitaker v. Whitener, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157692 (WD NC,…

Prisoner free exercise cases – November 03, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Fulbright v. Jones, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154414 (WD OK, Aug….

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 13, 2013

Howard Friedman, Relgion Clause

In Smith v. City of New York, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144122 (SD…

Prisoner free exercise cases – October 3, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Conway v. Purves, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112424 (ED MI, Aug. 9,…

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 30, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ford v. Palmer, (2d Cir., Sept. 24, 2013), the Second Circuit reversed…

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 22, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131525 (D HI,…

Prisoner free exercise cases – September 08, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Washington v. Afify, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125523 (WD NY,…

Prisoner Free Exercise Cases – August 11, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Allen, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109388 (MD GA, Aug. 5,…

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 14, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mathis v. Monza, (3rd Cir., July 8, 2013), the 3rd Circuit…

Prisoner free exercise cases – July 7, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Quintero v. Palmer, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92831 (D NV, July…

Prisoner Free Exercise Cases – June 9, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ali v. Reilly, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77549 (D NH, June 3,…

Prisoner free exercise cases – June 2, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Sims v. Wegman, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76243 (ED CA, May 29…

Prisoner free exercise cases – May 12, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Widi v. United States Department of Justice, 2013 U.S. Dist….

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 28, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Sweatman v. Rieben, 2013 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 96 (AL App., April…

Prisoner free exercise cases – April 21, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52479 (D HI, April…

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 31, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Bolds v. Cavazos, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40393 (ED CA, March…

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 10, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In White v. Lee, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 4470 (9th Cir., March 4, 2013)…

Prisoner free exercise cases – March 03, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Fisher, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23275 (ND NY, Feb….

Prisoner free exercise cases – December 30, 2012

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Clark v. Cambria County Prison, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179789…