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Deepening a split among the circuits, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held recently that federal prisoners who sue for mistreatment do not have to name names to exhaust administrative remedies, only provide officials enough detail to investigate the complaint. In the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act, Congress attempted to restrict inmate suits against prison officials by mandating exhaustion of claims through prison administrative processes as a precondition to getting into federal court. As a result, circuits have differed over how detailed administrative claims must be and whether a suit will survive if some, but not all, claims are exhausted. The 6th and 8th circuits have adopted standards that require prisoners who allege mistreatment to file a grievance against the person they ultimately intend to sue. Curry v. Scott, 249 F.3d 493 (2001), and Abdul-Muhammad v. Kempker, 450 F.3d 350 (2006). But in an opinion by Judge Michael W. McConnell, the 10th Circuit rejected that approach and joining the broader terms of the 2d and 7th circuits. “We hold that a grievance satisfies sec. 1997(a)’s exhaustion requirement so long as it provides prison officials with enough information to investigate and address the inmate’s complaint internally,” McConnell wrote in Kikumura v. Osagie, No. 04-1249. McConnell also distinguished the case from the 10th Circuit’s own 2004 ruling, Ross v. County of Bernalillo, 365 F.3d 1181, requiring total exhaustion of all claims for a suit to survive. Although the 6th and 8th circuits have adopted total-exhaustion rules, the 2d and 9th have declined. The requirement that a prisoner name or describe specific prison employees or supervisors as wrongdoers in order to satisfy administrative-exhaustion rules is too onerous because inmates may not be able to identify the staff involved, according to the court. In Yu Kikumura’s case, he was unconscious for nearly two days and suffered some memory loss as a result of his illness and did not know everyone involved. Making a bet McConnell appears to be betting that the U.S. Supreme Court will come down against a total-exhaustion requirement. The high court has taken up two cases set for Oct. 30 argument to resolve the issue. Jones v. Bock, No. 05-7058, and Williams v. Overton, No. 05-7142. Kikumura, an alleged member of the 1980s terror group the Japanese Red Army, which was intent on overthrowing the Japanese government, was convicted in 1988 of carrying a pipe bomb on the New Jersey Turnpike in a bombing plot intended to coincide with a bombing in Naples, Italy. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. In 2002, Kikumura nearly died after Anthony Osagie, a doctor’s assistant in the prison infirmary, accused him of faking an illness, although Kikumura was in extreme pain and vomiting as a result of hyponatremia, a dangerously low salt level in the body. Kikumura was returned to his cell and spent hours “screaming for help,” delirious and writhing in his own waste before guards sought medical help, according to the court. “Significantly, the court has said Kikumura is entitled to his day in court,” said Richard L. Gabriel of Holme Roberts & Owen in Denver, who was appointed to represent Kikumura on the appeal.”From a legal standpoint�this was the court’s first chance to explain and balance the practical reality facing inmates” who may lack education and knowledge of the system, but are required to do all they can to exhaust their administrative remedies, said Gabriel. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Torres in Denver could not be reached for comment.

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