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Court: Wash. inmate denied Torah can sue

SEATTLE — A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit brought by a Washington inmate who was denied Jewish reading materials.

Dennis Florer is serving 10 years for stealing a truck from a car dealership in 2003 and running over the salesman.

He claimed he was Jewish and requested a Torah and other items from Jewish Prisoner Services International, a private organization contracted by the state to provide prison religious services.

The organization declined to give Florer the materials because he failed to show he was really Jewish — either by demonstrating he had a Jewish mother or had properly converted.

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit after finding that the private organization was not liable under federal civil rights law, but a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit disagreed today, saying the group acted in concert with the state.

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