Judge Michael Telesca

Black inmate James claims to be Jewish. In 2005, guard Sheftic allegedly “stalked” James in the mess hall after James filed a grievance complaining that his improperly prepared kosher “cold alternative” meals included spoiled food. Later, Sheftic allegedly searched James’ cell, confiscating legal papers and personal items. James filed a grievance against Sheftic. The Central Office Review Committee upheld denial of grievances. The court dismissed James’ lawsuit under 42 USC §1983, finding he did not show defendants violated his constitutional rights. His claim defendants conspired to violate his rights failed as a matter of law. His “stalking” claim against Sheftic did not allege a cognizable injury. He did not allege physical contact, or threat of harm, by Sheftic. Discussing Ward v. Goord, the court dismissed James’ claim that his First Amendment religious freedom rights were violated by service of spoiled food. On each of the three occasions identified, James was either given a replacement item or an entirely new food tray. Nor did he substantiate his claimed removal from the prison’s Cold Alternative Diet meal plan due to his race or because defendant prison officials questioned the sincerity of his religious beliefs.