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Qualified Immunity Denied In Muslim Woman’s Challenge To Jail’s Booking Photo Policy

In Chaaban v. City of Detroit, Michigan Department of Corrections, (ED MI, Sept. 2, 2022), a Michigan federal district court denied a motion in a RLUIPA case for reconsideration of the denial of qualified immunity to corrections officials who forced a Muslim woman to remove her hijab for a booking photograph. The court concluded that it was premature to grant immunity on a motion to dismiss, saying in part:

[D]iscovery is needed to determine “whether the state of the law . . . gave [the defendants] fair warning that [the plaintiff’s] alleged treatment was unconstitutional.”… Plaintiff plausibly alleged in her complaint that prison officers threatened to make Plaintiff “sleep on the concrete floor of the booking cell without a bed, blanket, mattress or pillow” if she did not remove her hijab…. Taking this and other allegations in Plaintiff’s complaint as true … the Court properly determined that qualified immunity is not appropriate at this time.

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