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Case Name Muhammad v. Terhune PC-NJ-0014
Docket / Court No. 99-cv-02773 ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
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 ... read more >
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.

Samuel Poortenga - 03/19/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) East Jersey State Prison
Plaintiff Description Muslim prisoners at East Jersey State Prison
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 06/15/1999
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Muhammad, et al. v. Terhune, et al.
ACLU of New Jersey
Date: 2003
By: ACLU New Jersey
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D.N.J.
03/30/2005
2:95-cv-00942-NHP
PC-NJ-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
not recorded
ACLU Press Release
PC-NJ-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
U.S. Court of Appeals
05/07/2002
Brief on Behalf of Appellees (2002 WL 32169894)
PC-NJ-0014-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
10/02/2002
Table Opinion (49 Fed.Appx. 391)
PC-NJ-0014-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
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Judges Hochberg, Faith S. (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
PC-NJ-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barocas, Edward (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PC-NJ-0014-0001 | PC-NJ-0014-9000
Cocoziello, J. Barry (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PC-NJ-0014-9000
Dryzga, Daniel F. Jr. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PC-NJ-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Samson, David (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PC-NJ-0014-0004
Shane, Robert P. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PC-NJ-0014-0004 | PC-NJ-0014-9000

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