Ninth Circuit Reiterates Mandate of Notices to Incarcerated Pro Se Litigants

by shermaat on August 28, 2012

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reiterated its mandate that incarcerated pro se litigants be given proper notice when the state files motions in their cases.

Citing its own earlier decisions, the July 6, 2012 decision in  Ernest Woods, II v. Tom Carey stated: “We hold that notice required under Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), and  Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2003), must be provided to pro se prisoner plaintiffs at the time the defendants’ motions are filed.”

The case arose out of the failure of the California penal system to properly address prisoner Ernest Woods’ request for dental care. Woods filed a civil lawsuit against Solano Prison Warden Tom Carey and Appeals Coordinator Santos Cervantes under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to his medical needs due to the improper denial of two grievance forms seeking dental care. Woods waited more than a year for dental care to address a broken partial denture that caused him to break a tooth while eating. Part way through his long wait for care, Woods was told that his name had been removed from the waiting list for care. he filed an internal grievance with the prison system, but later learned that the appeals coordinator, Cervantes, had interfered with the grievance being heard. The cat and mouse game of grievance filing and grievance being improperly removed from consideration went on until Woods filed his civil suit.

Defendants ultimately filed motions to dismiss their cases, which were granted, based upon the argument that Woods had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. However, the lower courts failed to provide Woods with proper notices in accordance with the Ninth Circuits rulings in Rand and Wyatt.

The Ninth Circuit reversed the decision of the district court and remanded the case with the stipulation that, should defendants re-file their motions to dismiss, that the incarcerated pro se litigant be given the proper notices.

This article was written on behalf of Clean your record now!

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