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CLIFTON v. VELASCO

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois


January 16, 2004.

MELVIN CLIFTON,
v.
DIRECTOR VELASCO, et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM ORDER

After dealing with the threshold issue of in forma pauperis status for pro se prisoner plaintiff Melvin Clifton ("Clifton"), this Court's December 17, 2003 memorandum order ("Order") dismissed Clinton's Complaint and this action because of his noncompliance with the precondition to suit established by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (a) ("Section 1997e(a)"). Now Clifton has submitted a self-prepared handwritten document captioned "Plaintiff Motion for Relief form Judgment Accord to Rule 59 and/or 60," which this Court will address under the standard applicable to Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 59(e) motions because Clifton has come within the time frame prescribed by that Rule as expanded by Rule 6(a).

Clifton's filing quarrels with this Court's dismissal of his action — but he does so in principal part because he has failed to appreciate the thrust of this Court's analysis. It is of course true that the congressional mandate set out in Section 1997e(a) precludes any court action by a prisoner "until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." But Page 2 Clifton seems to believe that he can satisfy that condition, where a prison system provides administrative remedies of some type, by choosing instead to file a request that speaks solely in terms of a kind of remedy that the prison system could never provide. As the Order reflected, the only purported invocation of administrative remedies that Clifton submitted to prison authorities stated his desired relief solely in these terms:

I ask that this matter be reviewed and I'm paid damages of $500,000 by Captain Anderson.
  That kind of reading would make a mockery out of the congressional requirement. For better or worse, Congress has decreed that a prisoner must seek such remedies as are available within the system before the prisoner can come into court to seek relief that may go beyond what would have been available at the administrative level. By framing his request in the impermissible form that he did, Clifton has foreclosed himself from complaining about the lack of a response from the prison authorities — a complaint that prisoners are entitled to lodge with a court to which they have gone for judicial relief after they have legitimately sought to exhaust administrative remedies, but have been confronted with nonresponsiveness or stonewalling on the part of the prison officials.

  This Court continues to hold that what Clifton did — or more accurately did not do — before he brought this lawsuit has failed to comport with Section 1997e(a). Accordingly his Rule 59(e) Page 3 motion is denied.

20040116

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.



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