Presley v. Scott et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge L Scott Coogler on 3/28/2016. (PSM)
2016 Mar-28 PM 03:46
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
GEORGE WALTER PRESLEY,
LATONYA SCOTT, et al.,
Case No. 4:13-cv-02067-LSC-TMP
The magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on March 2, 2016,
recommending that the defendants’ motion to dismiss be granted and the plaintiff’s
complaint and amended complaint be dismissed without prejudice for the
plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a). (Doc. 49). The magistrate judge further recommended dismissal of the
plaintiff’s state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). (Id.). The plaintiff
filed objections to the report and recommendation on March 18, 2016. (Doc. 51).
In his objections, the plaintiff argues that he did not have access to
Administrative Regulation (“AR”) 313, which provides a grievance procedure for
inmates regarding “matters of a religious nature.” (Doc. 51 at 1, 6; Doc. 41-9 at 2,
6-7). However, the plaintiff’s argument is unavailing since he acknowledges he
has submitted requests for religious assistance in the past pursuant to AR 313.
(Doc. 47 at 33; Doc. 51 at 7-8).
The plaintiff further states that he submitted letters to former ADOC
Commissioner Kim Thomas, the ADOC Legal Division, and Pastoral Programs
Supervisor Thomas Woodfin regarding the confiscation of his religious items on
June 23, 2013. (Doc. 51 at 3). In response, Associate Commissioner Terrance
McDonnell and Woodfin acknowledged in separate letters that some of the
plaintiff’s property had been wrongly confiscated and directed the plaintiff to seek
payment for the property through the Board of Adjustment. (Docs. 51 at 17-18,
Exs. EE, FF).
The plaintiff maintains that his letters and McDonnell’s and
Woodfin’s subsequent responses “rectif[y] any and all exhaustion of administrative
remedies.”1 (Doc. 51 at 3).
The Supreme Court has noted that exhaustion must be “proper.” Woodford
v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93 (2006). “Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an
agency’s deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative
system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the
course of its proceedings.”
Id. at 90-91.
In other words, an institution’s
requirements define what is considered exhaustion. Jones v. Brock, 549 U.S. 199,
The plaintiff claims he again wrote letters to Commissioner Thomas, Captain Peters,
Chaplain Woodfin, and ADOC’s Investigations & Intelligence Division concerning guards’
refusal to allow him to access the Native American grounds prior to his transfer on September
24, 2014. (Doc. 51 at 9-10).
218 (2007). Therefore, under the law, the plaintiff must do more than simply
initiate a grievance; he must also appeal any denial of relief through all levels of
review that comprise the administrative grievance process. Bryant v. Rich, 530
F.3d 1368, 1378 (11th Cir. 2008) (“To exhaust administrative remedies in
accordance with the PLRA, prisoners must ‘properly take each step within the
administrative process.’” (quoting Johnson v. Meadows, 418 F.3d 1152, 1158 (11th
Under the inmate grievance procedure set out in AR 313 § III(B)(1), (L), the
plaintiff was required to inform the chaplain about the seizure of his medicine bag
on June 23, 2013, and retention of his religious objects before his transfer on
September 24, 2014, so that these disputes over religious objects could be resolved
by the chaplain. AR 313 provides a grievance procedure for an inmate to submit a
request regarding “matters of a religious nature” to the chaplain for initial
resolution, with the Religious Activities Review Committee having final approval
on such matters. (Doc. 41-9 at 2, 6-7). Although review of “religious activity may
originate at any level[,] ., . . approval/disapproval authority is the responsibility of
the Religious Activities Review Committee.”2 (Id. at 3). While the plaintiff
claims Chaplain Brown denied him assistance after the confiscation of his religious
materials on June 23, 2013, the plaintiff does not dispute that he failed to file a
According to AR 313 § III (B)(3), the Religious Activities Review Committee consists of
the Regional Coordinator and three (3) chaplains. (Doc. 41-9 at 3).
written grievance concerning the confiscation, or the retention of his religious
materials on September 24, 2014, pursuant to AR 313. Therefore, the Religious
Activities Review Committee has not had an opportunity to review his claims. See
Eaton-Bey v. Smith, No. 2:14-cv-1085-MHT, 2015 WL 1120280 at * 1-5 (M.D.
Ala. March 12, 2015) (dismissing Alabama inmate’s First Amendment claims
without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies under AR 313).
The fact that the plaintiff sent letters to the warden, ADOC Legal Division, and
Woodfin does not excuse his failure to follow the grievance procedure set out in
AR 313. Indeed, “[t]o exhaust remedies, a prisoner must file complaints and
appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison’s administrative rules require.”
Johnson v. Meadows, 418 F.3d 1152, 1158 (11th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted).
Having carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials in the
court file, including the report and recommendation and the objections thereto, the
magistrate judge’s report is hereby ADOPTED and the recommendation is
Accordingly, the defendants’ motion to dismiss is due to be
GRANTED and the plaintiff’s complaint and amended complaint are due to be
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for the plaintiff’s failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
plaintiff’s state law claims are due to be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
DONE and ORDERED on March 28, 2016.
L. Scott Coogler
United States District Judge
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