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Court of Appeals reverses and remands inmate’s request for kosher meals

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A Pendleton Correctional Facility inmate will not be able to collect monetary damages against employees of the Indiana Department of Correction, but his request for kosher meals will get a second review.   

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded a lower court’s summary judgment for the Indiana Department of Corrections which resulted in the dismissal of the complaint made by inmate Jeffrey Allen Rowe.

In Jeffrey Allen Rowe V. Bruce Lemon, A49A02-1204-PL-344, the issues before the COA were whether the inmate is entitled to pursue monetary damages against the defendants under either 42 U.S.C. 1983 or the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and whether there is a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment on Rowe’s claims under RLUIPA.   

On Jan. 19, 2011, Rowe filed an “Offender Request for Religious Accommodation” asking that he be provided kosher meals. He is not Jewish but professes to believe in “Identity Christianity” and maintains God commanded that followers adhere to the Biblical food laws in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. These are the rules that kosher diets follow.

After Rowe’s request and subsequent appeals were denied, he filed a complaint against DOC officials and the commissioner seeking compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages as well as a declaratory judgment injunction requiring that he be served kosher meals. The complaint invoked RLUIPA and 42 U.S. C. 1983 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.    

The COA affirmed the grant of summary judgment against Rowe on his constitutional claims. It did not review Rowe’s Section 1983 constitutional claims because the remedies to which the inmate would be entitled are virtually identical to RLUIPA.  

However, the COA did reverse the grant of summary judgment against Rowe on his claims under RLUIPA because there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the sincerity of his religious beliefs. The court remanded for further proceedings on those claims.




 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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