United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
of United States Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson (Doc.
83), which recommends denying the motion for summary judgment
on the issue of exhaustion of administrative remedies filed
by Defendant Michael Williams (Doc. 49). Neither party filed
an objection to the Report and Recommendation. For the
reasons explained below, the Court adopts Magistrate Judge
Wilkerson's Report and Recommendation and denies the
motion for summary judgment.
Johnnie Bankston, an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections currently incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional
Center, filed a pro se lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights
(Doc. 1). Following a threshold review of the complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Bankston was permitted to
proceed on a First Amendment claim and a claim under the
Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA)
against Defendant Michael Williams, the chaplain at Shawnee,
based on Williams's alleged refusal to hold services for
the Nation of Gods and Earths, which is the religion Bankston
practices (Doc. 18).
Williams filed a motion for summary judgment on February 24,
2017, arguing that Bankston failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies prior to filing suit as required by
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (Doc. 49). Bankston filed a
response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment
(Doc. 59). In accordance with Pavey v. Conley, 544
F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), Magistrate Judge Wilkerson held an
evidentiary hearing on the issue of exhaustion on July 5,
2017 (Doc. 82). On July 12, 2017, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson
issued the Report and Recommendation currently before the
Court, in which he recommends denying the motion for summary
judgment (Doc. 83). Objections to the Report and
Recommendation were due on or before July 31, 2017.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(2); SDIL-LR 73.1(b). As previously mentioned, neither
party filed an objection.
neither timely nor specific objections to the Report and
Recommendation are made, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140
(1985). Instead, the Court should review the Report and
Recommendation for clear error. Johnson v. Zema Systems
Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999). The Court may
then “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
undersigned has carefully reviewed the briefs and exhibits
submitted by the parties, as well as Magistrate Judge
Wilkerson's Report and Recommendation. Following this
review, the undersigned fully agrees with the findings,
analysis, and conclusions of Magistrate Judge Wilkerson and
adopts the Report and Recommendation in its entirety.
testified that he submitted grievances to his counselor on
May 16, 2015, and June 17, 2015, that complained about
Defendant Williams's handling of his requests for
religious services. According to Bankston, he never received
a response to either grievance. Magistrate Judge Wilkerson
found Bankston's testimony credible, and that credibility
determination is entitled to deference. See Pavey v.
Conley, 663 F.3d 899, 904 (7th Cir. 2011). Because
Bankston took the steps required of him to informally resolve
his grievance, but his counselor failed to provide a written
response, the grievance process was rendered unavailable.
Brengettcy v. Horton, 423 F.3d 674, 682 (7th Cir.
2005) (citing Lewis v. Washington, 300 F.3d 829, 833
(7th Cir. 2002)). Therefore, Bankston is deemed to have
exhausted his administrative remedies. Lewis, 300
F.3d at 833.
Court ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Wilkerson's Report and
Recommendation (Doc. 83) and DENIES the motion for summary
judgment on the issue of exhaustion filed by Defendant
Michael Williams (Doc. 49).