Arizona inmate claiming non secular rights abuse will get day at ninth Circuit

A Ninth Circuit panel on Thursday heard two arguments from an Arizona
inmate who claims the Division of Corrections violated his non secular
rights and subjected him to merciless and strange punishment. 

Michael Fuqua, who was sentenced in 2008 to life in state jail for murdering his girlfriend, filed the primary of two lawsuits in opposition to the Division of Corrections in 2015 after he was fired from his job within the jail kitchen. 

is a religious Christian, and advised jail officers that his non secular
beliefs forestall him from engaged on Sundays, new moons and eight different
days acknowledged by his religion. Fuqua advised a jail official, recognized
in court docket paperwork solely as Sgt. Sterns, that he wouldn’t have the ability to work
sure days he was assigned. 

Fuqua claims a jail official advised him “we don’t do this shit right here.”

officers fired Fuqua for refusing to work, and he claims jail
chaplain J. Lind, in command of processing prisoners’ non secular requests,
ignored his request. 

A federal choose dismissed Fuqua’s claims of
Fifth and 14th Modification violations in addition to the declare involving the
Non secular Land Use and Institutionalized Individual’s Act. A jury dominated in
favor of the state on Fuqua’s remaining First Modification declare in October

Fuqua appealed a month later. 

Daren Zhang,
representing Fuqua earlier than the three-judge Ninth Circuit panel in San
Francisco, argued that Fuqua’s Non secular Land Use Act declare was
incorrectly dismissed as a result of jail officers by no means gave Fuqua a cause
for dismissing his request to not work on sabbath days, and as a substitute
“principally ignored Fuqua’s request.”

“They principally compelled Fuqua to decide on between his non secular beliefs and his job,” Zhang mentioned.

Banes, representing three jail officers named within the lawsuit, mentioned
the officers adopted jail coverage once they denied Fuqua’s request,
as a result of requests for non secular lodging should be made 30 days in

However Fuqua obtained his work schedule solely three days prematurely of the primary sabbath day, Zhang advised the panel.

Earlier within the day, Fuqua argued on a unique enchantment stemming from a 2018 lawsuit
by which he accused the Division of Corrections and choose officers
of each limiting his freedom of faith and merciless and strange

Fuqua claims within the lawsuit that his Bible and different
non secular literature had been confiscated, that he was not allowed to eat a
particular weight-reduction plan consisting of unleavened bread on his sabbath days, that he
was denied clothes and fundamental hygiene merchandise, that his mail was typically
rifled by means of, and that he was put in solitary confinement with no
gentle or bathroom paper for days on finish. 

Just like the earlier case,
most of his claims had been dismissed in 2019, and the remainder had been selected
abstract judgment in favor of the state in 2021.

Zhang advised the panel that Lind “overtly mocked Fuqua’s faith.”

actions disadvantaged Fuqua of an affordable alternative to observe his
religion, similar to the chance afforded to different prisoners,” he
mentioned. “That might set up an equal safety declare.”

The claims
determined within the 2021 abstract judgment additionally concerned the Non secular Land
Use act, which Banes argued can’t be used in opposition to particular person actors who
don’t obtain federal funds to hunt financial damages. 

disagreed, arguing that Congress clearly meant the act to use extra
broadly and to be enforced in opposition to state jail officers who deny
inmates’ non secular rights.

“With out cash damages, RLUIPA is unenforceable,” he mentioned. 

panel was made up of Joe Biden-appointed U.S. Circuit Decide Jennifer
Sung and U.S. Circuit Judges Daniel Collins and Danielle Forrest, each
Donald Trump appointees. The panel didn’t point out when it’ll rule on
both enchantment.