Case: Muhammad v. Terhune

2:99-cv-02773 | U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Filed Date: June 15, 1999

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a First Amendment case involving the provision of Halal meat to Muslim prisoners. The Clearinghouse has limited information about this case, much of which comes from an ACLU press release. According to the press release, Muslim prisoners asked the East Jersey State Prison to provide them with Halal meals after the prison banned them from receiving food packages from family members. In response, the prison offered vegetarian Halal meals. But the prisoners believed that they had a religio…

This is a First Amendment case involving the provision of Halal meat to Muslim prisoners. The Clearinghouse has limited information about this case, much of which comes from an ACLU press release. According to the press release, Muslim prisoners asked the East Jersey State Prison to provide them with Halal meals after the prison banned them from receiving food packages from family members. In response, the prison offered vegetarian Halal meals. But the prisoners believed that they had a religious obligation to eat Halal meat.

Several prisoners sued the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the prison Administrator on June 15, 1999, raising free exercise and equal protection arguments. They argued that the prison treated them worse than similarly-situated Jewish prisoners, for whom the state engaged an outside contractor to provide Kosher meals. The state responded that the prisoners were treated the same as the Jewish prisoners because the contractor provided only vegetarian Kosher meals. The state also pointed out that it only engaged the contractor to provide Kosher meals because Kosher meals could not be prepared in the prison, but the prison could prepare vegetarian Halal meals.

On October 12, 1999, Judge Maryanne T. Barry granted a preliminary injunction that required the prison to provide Halal food to the plaintiffs. The defendants moved for reconsideration and summary judgment, and the case was reassigned to Judge Faith S. Hochberg.

The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on June 20, 2000. It reasoned that mainstream Islam does not require adherents to eat Halal meat, so the prison's policy adequately accommodated the plaintiffs' religious preferences. The Third Circuit reversed on October 2, 2002, reasoning that the fact other Muslims practiced differently did not control so long as the plaintiffs' own religious beliefs were sincerely held.

The ACLU-NJ represented the plaintiffs on remand. In 2003, the parties reached an agreement under which the prison would sell Halal meat in the commissary. However, the parties continued to dispute whether the State could require prisoners to pay for the Halal meat. The Clearinghouse is not aware of whether or how the parties resolved this dispute.

The court entered an order stipulating to dismissal on September 14, 2004. But in 2005, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction. The court scheduled a hearing, but there is no additional activity on the docket. The Clearinghouse does not know how (or if) the parties ultimately resolved their dispute.

Summary Authors

Samuel Poortenga (3/19/2021)

People


Judge(s)

Hochberg, Faith S. (New Jersey)

Politan, Nicholas H. (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barocas, Edward (New Jersey)

Cocoziello, J. Barry (New Jersey)

Dryzga, Daniel F. Jr. (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Samson, David (New Jersey)

Shane, Robert P. (New Jersey)

Judge(s)

Hochberg, Faith S. (New Jersey)

Politan, Nicholas H. (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barocas, Edward (New Jersey)

Cocoziello, J. Barry (New Jersey)

Dryzga, Daniel F. Jr. (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Samson, David (New Jersey)

Shane, Robert P. (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:99-cv-02773

Docket [PACER]

March 30, 2005

March 30, 2005

Docket

00-02110

Brief on Behalf of Appellees

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

2002 WL 32169894

May 7, 2002

May 7, 2002

Pleading / Motion / Brief

00-02110

Table Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

49 Fed.Appx. 391

Oct. 2, 2002

Oct. 2, 2002

Order/Opinion

2:95-00942

ACLU Press Release

No Court

None

None

Press Release

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 20, 2022, 3:16 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 15, 1999

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Muslim prisoners at East Jersey State Prison

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

East Jersey State Prison (Avenel, Middlesex), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Free Exercise Clause

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Religious programs / policies

Discrimination-basis:

Religion discrimination

Type of Facility:

Government-run