Court Overturns Ruling in Lawsuit Over Del. Inmate Kosher Diet - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Court Overturns Ruling in Lawsuit Over Del. Inmate Kosher Diet

Posted: 07/14/2017 08:55:00 -04:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del. (AP/WBOC)- A federal appeals court has overturned a ruling granting immunity to Delaware prison officials in a lawsuit over an inmate's demand for a kosher diet.

James T. Vaughn Correctional Center inmate Donald Parkell requested a kosher diet in 2014 after approval of his change-of-religion request, from "Roman Catholic or Wicca" to Jewish.

Parkell was told a rabbi needed to verify that he was an Orthodox Jew. He did not start receiving kosher meals until last year, after a Department of Correction policy change.

The appeals court noted Tuesday that while Parkell's belief system, characterized as "Jewish/Wicca," is novel, officials can still be on notice that their conduct violates established law.

The court noted that to prevail on his First Amendment claim, Parkell must still persuade a jury that his sincerely held religious beliefs mandate kosher food.

Parkell, who is locked up until 2020 on a burglary conviction, has filed several lawsuits against state prison officials over the years, including one in mid-February following the deadly inmate uprising that occurred Feb. 1-2 at JTVCC. 

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