SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal judge has ruled in favor of a former Utah State Prison inmate, saying officials violated his constitutional rights by not allowing him to practice certain rites of his religion.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell on Friday awarded $100 to Danny Warner Jr., but denied his request for compensatory and punitive damages, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The judge noted prison officials had already taken steps to clarify policies and accommodate the needs of those practicing the pre-Christian Nordic faith of Odhvegr, also known as Odinism. The religion encourages followers to live a "virtuous existence" based on nine noble virtues, including courage, truth and honor. It's among 25 identified religions followed by Utah inmates.
Campbell praised Warner, who represented himself, for "the zealous defense of his rights and for the exemplary manner" in which he litigated his claims. Most inmate lawsuits are dismissed.
In a complaint filed in 2008, Warner alleged prison officials interfered with his ability to practice his religion and failed to make the same accommodations it provides inmates of other faiths. He said he was not given fast-boxes during the religion's Winter Nights holiday and was not allowed to receive a "religious book" from National Vanguard Press.
Odinists engage in daylight fasts during the Winter Nights period. Corrections officials said inmates must request the meal boxes 45 days prior to the day needed, and Warner failed to do so.
Warner had been serving a sentence in Utah on theft, identity fraud and attempted aggravated assault charges. In March, he was moved to an Arizona prison, where he's serving a 63-month sentence on a firearm possession charge. Once he completes that sentence, he's expected to be returned to the Utah State Prison to finish his other sentence.