Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.
DARNELL WILSON, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, Meridian, MS.
For CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS, COMMISSIONER, MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, JAMES HOLMAN, Warden at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, MARGARETT BINGHAM, Superintendent at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, EDDIE CATES, Classification and Moving Supervisor at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, Defendants - Appellees: Tommy Darrell Goodwin, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, Keith Lerone Gates, Esq., Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Mississippi, Jackson, MS.
Before JOLLY, HIGGINBOTHAM, and OWEN, Circuit Judges.
E. GRADY JOLLY, Circuit Judge:
Darnell Wilson, Mississippi prisoner # 159643, filed a complaint in the district court alleging that the prison-official defendants had violated his constitutional rights. The magistrate judge dismissed the complaint on the ground that Wilson had failed to exhaust administrative remedies. In his primary contention on appeal, Wilson argues that the prison's failure to respond to his grievances excuses his non-exhaustion. We disagree because, under both the particular grievance process at issue here and the settled law of this circuit, a prison's failure to respond at preliminary steps in its grievance process does not relieve a prisoner of the duty to complete the remaining steps. We therefore AFFIRM.
Darnell Wilson is a prisoner who, at all times relevant to this appeal, was housed at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (" CMCF" ). On September 20, 2010, Wilson filed a complaint in the district court. In the 63-page complaint, he alleged a host of facts and incidents aimed at showing that the defendants--the Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (" MDOC" ), the warden of CMCF, and other employees of CMCF--had violated his constitutional rights. Among these allegations were that his uniform and linens had not been changed often enough, that he received a haircut against his will that was administered with unsterilized scissors, and that he was exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke emitted by his fellow prisoners. The complaint
also alleged that Wilson had filed ten formal grievances with the prison between July 23 and August 15, 2010, that he had received no response to these grievances, and that the 90-day period within which the prison could process a grievance was too long.
The parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge. The defendants then moved to dismiss on the ground that Wilson had not exhausted administrative remedies, pointing to statements in Wilson's complaint and attaching several hundred pages' worth of Wilson's grievances and related documents. Wilson opposed the motion, asserting that the exhaustion requirement should be deemed satisfied because of the prison's failure to respond to his grievances.
Construing the defendants' motion as a motion for summary judgment, the magistrate judge dismissed Wilson's claims. The magistrate judge held that Wilson's complaint, together with the grievance records, demonstrated that Wilson had failed to exhaust administrative remedies. Further, the magistrate judge found that Wilson had not alleged any ailment that might excuse his failure to exhaust, and that, though the prison had failed to respond, there is no " substantial compliance" exception to the exhaustion requirement in this circuit. Finally, the magistrate judge held that Wilson's arguments about the length of ...