University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Helbrans v. Coombe PC-NY-0013
Docket / Court 94-8662 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On December 1, 1994, an inmate at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York filed a lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000b, against the New York State Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The ... read more >
On December 1, 1994, an inmate at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York filed a lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000b, against the New York State Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiff, an Orthodox Hasidic Jew, alleged that his constitutional rights had been violated by the prison system's regulations regarding the removal of facial hair, which were in contention with his religious beliefs.

On January 9, 1995, the parties settled the case, and the state agreed not to force the prisoner to remove his facial hair and not to discipline the inmate for refusing to shave. The plaintiff asked the court to award him attorneys fees. On May 19, 1995, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge Harold Baer, Jr.) granted the motion for attorneys fees in the amount of $55,540.36 and closed the case. Helbrans v. Coombe, 890 F.Supp. 227 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).

Kristen Sagar - 10/31/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) New York State Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmate, an Orthodox Hasidic Jew whose religion forbade removal of facial hair, seeking to enjoin the state from from removing his facial hair upon his reception at state prison
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1995 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1995
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
94-8662 (S.D.N.Y.) 09/13/1995
PC-NY-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion and Order 05/19/1995 (890 F.Supp. 227) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0013-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Baer, Harold Jr. (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0013-0001 | PC-NY-0013-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gravante, Nicholas (New York)
PC-NY-0013-9000
Shargel, Gerald (New York)
PC-NY-0013-0001 | PC-NY-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Singleton, Valerie (New York)
PC-NY-0013-0001 | PC-NY-0013-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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