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Horvitz & Levy is a solutions-based firm focused on appellate success. We are distinguished by our commitment to responsive service and on-going innovation in the areas of civil appellate litigation, amicus curiae support, and trial strategy consultation.

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court, reinstating our client’s claims that prison officials violated his First Amendment rights.

De Witt Lamar Long is a Muslim incarcerated in Hawaii state prison.  He requested meals consistent with his Islamic faith but was repeatedly served meals that contained pork.  When he complained, he was transferred to a high-security facility and was forced to eat his meals by himself in his cell.  During Ramadan, when Long’s religion prohibited him from eating before sunset, the prison served perishable meals to Long’s cell at 3:30 in the afternoon. He was forced to choose between breaking his fast in order to eat meals when they were hot, or waiting until after sunset, by which time the meals were often spoiled and inedible.  

Long filed a pro se lawsuit against prison officials, asserting various claims based on the prison’s failure to accommodate his request for meals that comply with his religious beliefs. The district court rejected all of Long’s claims, some during screening under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, some at the summary judgment stage, and some after a bench trial.  He appealed.  The Ninth Circuit appointed Horvitz & Levy and the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic to represent Long on appeal.  Two third-year students briefed and argued Long’s appeal under the supervision of two Horvitz & Levy attorneys.

The Ninth Circuit issued a published opinion, ruling that the district court improperly dismissed two of Long’s claims before trial.  The court held that Long should be permitted to pursue a claim for injunctive relief to challenge the prison’s policies regarding religious meal accommodations, and that Long should be permitted to pursue a claim that prison officials violated Long’s rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by serving him perishable food at 3:30 during Ramadan.