Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Pelzer v. McCall, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38349 (D SC, April 6, 2011), a South Carolina federal district court rejected a Muslim inmate's request for a preliminary injunction. The inmate claimed that the Establishment Clause was violated by the prison Chaplain's Office distributing to him a newsletter containing references to Christianity. In Anderson v. Arizona Department of Corrections, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39352 (D AZ, April 1, 2011), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate's claim that his free exercise rights were violated because he was not allowed to possess hardcover books and he cannot find his religious books in soft cover editions. In DeVon v. Diaz, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39393 (ED CA, April 1, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate's claim that his rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA were infringed when he was denied the right to eat kosher food and was denied fellowship. In Annabel v. Caruso, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39790 (WD MI, April 12, 2011), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39788, Jan. 18, 2011) and dismissed an inmate's claims that his rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA were violated when prison authorities refused to provide him with a Hebrew calendar or relay to him the dates of the 2008 Fall Holy Days. However plaintiff was permitted to proceed on his claim for grape juice and unleavened bread during Passover. In Hare v. Hayden, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40683 (SD NY, April 14, 2011), a New York federal district court rejected an inmate's claim that her removal from the position of clerk to the prison's Catholic chaplain was retaliation for her complaints about another chaplain's removing Catholic religious items. The court also rejected various claims regarding the suspension of certain Catholic religious programs and occassional interference with plaintiff's staying in the chapel for Mass. In Myers v. Raemisch, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40373 (ED WI, April 5, 2011), a Wisconsin federal district court permitted an inmate who is an initiate into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was allowed to move ahead with his suit seeking permission to obtain a particular tarot card deck that was designed exclusively for use by believers of the Golden Dawn, as well the tarot's companion book. Department of Corrections rules permitted only a different tarot.

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