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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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.