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9th Circuit revives Nev. inmate's lawsuit over kosher diet

By The Associated Press
12.11.08

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit filed by a Nevada prison inmate who converted to the Jewish faith while behind bars and then demanded kosher meals.

The ruling from the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals favors Lawrence Seville Parks, an Ely State Prison inmate who said he lost about 45 pounds before prison officials agreed in September to provide the requested food.

In his lawsuit against prison officials, Parks, who is black, claimed his constitutional rights were violated when he was initially refused kosher meals on grounds he couldn’t show a “hereditary connection” to Judaism or “a substantial philosophical understanding” of the religion.

A three judge panel of the appeals court, in its Dec. 2 decision in Parks v. Brooks, said the fact that he now gets kosher meals doesn’t erase his claim for damages. The court also said it was inappropriate for a lower court to enter a summary judgment dismissing the case.

In remanding the case to the lower court, the appeals court called for a factual determination on the sincerity of Parks’ religious beliefs. The court said that finding is necessary to see whether there’s “a genuine issue for trial.”


Related

Vt. prisons to pay $25,000 to settle suit by Jewish inmate

Former prisoner said he was blocked from receiving kosher food from charitable group, restricted in his use of a menorah for Hanukkah. 04.04.08

S.D. high court reinstates lawsuit over kosher prison food
Justices rule inmate can pursue claim that prison officials violated his religious rights by changing way kosher food is prepared. 07.29.08

Prisoners' rights

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