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Contract Rabbi Acting In Ecclesiastical Nature

Washington state prisoner James Shilling, a converted orthodox Jew, filed a
Federal civil rights complaint against Washington and Nevada Department of
Corrections (DOC) personnel, as well as Rabbi Gary Friedman, alleging that
they denied him kosher meals while housed in Nevada DOC as part of a bed
sharing program. Rabbi Friedman consulted for Washington DOC under contract
for religious instruction and assistance with Jewish problems in all
prisons located in Washington State.

Rabbi Friedman was requested by the Nevada DOC to consult on Shilling's
kosher meal request. Shilling alleged that Rabbi Friedman advised Nevada
DOC that it was the prison's policy "to only provide these items (fast bags
for religious holidays observed, as well as religious services) and diet to
inmates who were born Jewish, as prison is not a place for conversion."

Rabbi Friedman filed a motion to dismiss Shilling's claims against him,
claiming that he didn't act under color of state law because he was only
under contract with Washington DOC. The Court dismissed Shilling's claims
against Rabbi Friedman, holding that he did not act under color of state
law by advising Nevada DOC regarding Jewish matters, but only as to
ecclesiastical nature. See: Shilling v. Crawford, USDC DNV. Case No. 2:05
CV 00899 PMP GWF (D. Nevada June 12, 2006).

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Related legal case

Shilling v. Crawford