Patrick Deedon Wins Jury Trial

Patrick L. Deedon obtained a defense verdict for his client in a highly contested Section 1983 First Amendment claim.  The jury trial lasted two days and after 30 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict. The plaintiff was an inmate at the Lassen County jail in 2015 (amongst many other occasions).  He claimed to be Jewish and requested a Kosher diet in order to practice his claimed religion.  His special diet request was denied by the Jail Commander.  The inmate then filed a 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 action against the Lassen County Jail Commander for alleged violation of his First Amendment religious practice rights.  The plaintiff claimed emotional distress and anxiety type personal injuries.

The plaintiff bore the burden of proving a sincerely held religious belief that was substantially burdened by the defendant’s conduct.  Several witnesses testified, and many documents were reviewed with the jury, including photographs of the plaintiff’s swastika tattoo and “SS” lightening bolt tattoos.  The jury was shown documents that the plaintiff ate non-kosher food while previously incarcerated at the Lassen County jail and that plaintiff voluntarily went without Kosher food at another county jail about a year later.

The jury unanimously agreed that the inmate did not meet his burden of proof and rendered a defense verdict.