Smith v. Crockett (D.C.Co. Dec. 2, 2021): Adopting Recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge

In this decision, U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez adopts the recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang in Smith v. Crockett, a case in which a Muslim inmate sued Colorado state prison officials on allegations that they had violated his federal constitutional and statutory rights to free exercise of religion and to a diet that confirmed to the dictates of his faith. In this case, petitioner Ray Anthony Smith, a Muslim inmate housed in a Colorado state prison, alleged a violation of his federal constitutional right to the free exercise of religion and his federal statutory right to a diet that complies with his faith. Specifically, he alleged that prison officials revoked his right to a ḥalāl diet upon observing him ordering non-ḥalāl food. Petitioner Smith submitted a request for reinstatement of his ḥalāl diet through the internal prison grievance system, which was denied. Smith initiated this federal lawsuit in 2020 alleging violations of free exercise of religion under the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). His complaint alleges that the Colorado Department of Corrections, Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, and The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFNCA) violated his rights by the wrongful revocation of his religious diet and mislabeling of ḥalāl food products. Upon review of the record, Judge Martinez agreed with Judge Wang’s recommendation that the government officials were not entitled to immunity, as petitioner Ray Anthony Smith had made sufficient allegations to make out a prima facie claim. Also following Judge Wang’s recommendations, Judge Martinez dismissed Smith’s other allegations–including monetary damages against the government defendants for fraudulent misrepresentation of ḥalāl food products, and that the IFNCA and Dr. Chaudry be held liable for government actions.

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