United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge
Michael Davis is a prisoner of the State of Connecticut at
Osborn Correctional Institution. He filed this action against
two prison officials-Dr. Charles Williams, the prison's
religious facilitator, and Correctional Officer Hutton. He
asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violation of his right to free exercise of his religion and
for denial of due process. In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, I conducted an initial review of Davis's
claims and permitted them to proceed. Doc. #7; Davis v.
Williams, 2017 WL 507213 (D. Conn. 2017).
defendants thereafter moved to dismiss on the ground that
Davis had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies
before commencing this action. See Woodford v. Ngo,
548 U.S. 81 (2006) (explaining mandate of Prison Litigation
Reform Act for proper exhaustion of administrative remedies).
February 16, 2018, I granted defendants' motion,
concluding from a somewhat scanty record that Davis had
exceeded the five-day limitation period for filing a Level 2
grievance to appeal the denial of his Level 1 grievance. Doc.
#19 at 1-2. Nevertheless, because of my uncertainty about the
completeness of the record, I granted leave for Davis to file
a motion for reconsideration if he believed my ruling was
based on a misunderstanding of the facts or law. Id.
followed up with a motion for reconsideration, alleging facts
that would arguably suggest-contrary to my earlier
ruling-that he had timely filed his Level 2 grievance. Doc.
#21 at 2. Although I will assume for present purposes that
Davis is correct about this, I still conclude for reasons
detailed below that Davis did not properly and timely exhaust
his administrative remedies.
order to explain why I reach this conclusion, it is important
to understand the basic framework of the DOC's rules for
the resolution of grievances. The DOC's inmate grievance
procedure is set forth at length in DOC Administrative
Directive 9.6. See Riles v. Buchanan, 656 Fed.Appx.
577, 579-80 (2d Cir. 2016) (describing requirements of AD
9.6). The process contemplates at least three
stages of review for an inmate who wishes to seek a remedy
for mistreatment or adverse conditions at a prison.
first stage is informal resolution. An inmate may attempt to
verbally resolve the issue with an appropriate staff member
or supervisor. See AD 9.6(6)(A). If verbal attempts
to resolve the matter are not effective, the inmate must
submit a written request for resolution on a form referred to
as an Inmate Request form (CN 9601). Ibid. A prison
official-usually the staff member most involved-must respond
to this Inmate Request form within 15 business days.
second stage is for the inmate to file a formal grievance. To
do this, the inmate must submit a Level 1 grievance on a form
referred to as an Inmate Administrative Remedy form (CN
9602). See Id. at 9.6(6)(C). Most significantly for
purposes of this ruling, the Level 1 grievance must be filed
not later than 30 calendar days from the date of the
occurrence or discovery of the cause of the grievance, and it
must also include a copy of the staff response to the Inmate
Request form or explain why the response is not attached.
See Id. The Unit Administrator in turn must issue a
written response to a Level 1 grievance within 30 business
days. See Id. at 9.6(6)(I).
1 grievance may be returned to the inmate without disposition
on its merits if the inmate has failed in the first instance
to avail himself of the informal resolution process or if the
inmate fails without adequate explanation to attach the
Inmate Request form along with the staff response. See
Id. at 9.6(6)(E). The rejection of a Level 1 grievance
for this reason is done on a form referred to as a Grievance
Returned Without Disposition form (CN 9606). Ibid.
third stage of the grievance process is the filing of a Level
2 grievance to the District Administrator. The inmate must
file any Level 2 grievance within just five calendar days of
receiving an adverse decision on a Level 1 grievance. See
Id. at 9.6(6)(K). Alternatively, if the inmate has not
received a response to a Level 1 grievance within 30 business
days, then he may go ahead and file a Level 2 grievance.
See Id. at 9.6(6)(I).
incident at issue in this case occurred on August 18, 2016.
On that same day, Davis decided to file a Level 1 grievance.
This was plainly improper because he had not yet exhausted
the oral and written informal resolution process. Davis knew
or should have known this, because the Administrative Remedy
form (CN 9602) that Davis filled out clearly advised him at
the top of the form next to a box labeled “I am filing
a Grievance, ” which he checked, of the necessity that
he must first exhaust informal resolution procedures and also
that any grievance must be filed within 30 days of the
incident at issue:
Prior to filing a grievance, you must attempt informal
resolution. Attach a copy of CN 9601, Inmate Request Form
with the staff member's response OR state in
Section 4 the reason why the form is not attached. Grievances
must be filed within 30 days of the occurrence or discovery
of the cause of grievance.
Doc. #21 at 7.
did nothing to explain on the grievance form why he had
failed to exhaust the informal resolution process except to
state: “No CN 9601 obtained.” Doc. #21 at 6. Not
surprisingly, a prison administrator returned Davis's
grievance to him because he had ignored ...