Roundtree Goodman, by counsel Scott C. Brown, appeals the
Circuit Court of Marshall County's November 28, 2016,
order dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus.
Respondent James Rubenstein, Commissioner, by counsel John H.
Boothroyd, filed a response. On appeal, petitioner argues
that the circuit court erred in dismissing his request for
habeas relief on the ground that it lacked jurisdiction to
consider the petition and in concluding that petitioner
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
April 7, 2011, petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of
habeas corpus ("petition"). The petition set forth
at the outset that it was "not presented against the
[p]etitioner's 1979 [c]riminal [c]onviction."
Rather, petitioner alleged that he was receiving inadequate
mental health care and sought to have certain disciplinary
actions expunged from his record.
April 29, 2011, respondent filed a "Motion for Judicial
Review of Initial Pleading and Motion to Dismiss, "
requesting that the circuit court screen and review
petitioner's petition to determine whether dismissal
under the West Virginia Prisoner Litigation Reform Act
("WVPLRA") was required. Alternatively, respondent
moved to dismiss the petition pursuant to Rules 12(b)(6) and
56 of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure.
circuit court held a hearing on respondent's motion. By
order entered on November 28, 2016, the circuit court
dismissed petitioner's petition upon finding that it
lacked jurisdiction to consider the petition due to
petitioner's failure to comply with the presuit notice
requirements of West Virginia Code § 55-17-3, that
petitioner failed to exhaust his administrative remedies
under the WVPLRA, and that petitioner's claims regarding
his mental health treatment and prison disciplinary
convictions had already been addressed. It is from this order
that petitioner appeals.
argues on appeal that the circuit court erred in concluding
that it lacked jurisdiction to consider his petition.
Petitioner states that petitions for writs of habeas corpus
are not subject to the presuit notice requirements set forth
in West Virginia Code § 55-17-3. Petitioner further
contends that he exhausted his administrative remedies.
Petitioner asserts that he filed grievances while
incarcerated at Mt. Olive Correctional Complex ("Mt.
Olive"), that his "mental health treatment
continued to be woefully deficient" after he was
transferred back to Northern Regional Jail
("Northern"), and that he was, therefore, not
required to exhaust all administrative remedies at Northern
prior to filing his petition. Petitioner also filed
grievances at Northern, but they were filed after he
initiated the instant lawsuit.
Court's review of an order granting a motion to dismiss
is de novo. Syl. Pt. 2, State ex rel. McGraw v. Scott
Runyan Pontiac-Buick, Inc., 194 W.Va. 770, 461 S.E.2d
WVPLRA defines "civil action" as
any action or appeal from an action filed by any current or
former inmate or his or her personal representative with
respect to conditions of confinement, including, but not
limited to, petitions for extraordinary writs, civil actions
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and other federal and state laws
and negligence actions. Actions that exclusively concern an
inmate's sentence or conviction are not subject to the
requirements of this article.
W.Va. Code § 25-1A-1. At the time petitioner filed his
petition, the WVPLRA provided that "[a]n inmate may not
bring a civil action until the administrative remedies
promulgated by the facility have been
exhausted[.]" Id. at § 25-1A-2(a) (2000).
Petitioner argues that he exhausted his remedies by filing
grievances at Mt. Olive and by filing grievances at Northern
after he filed this petition. These arguments, however, were
rejected in White v. Haines, 217 W.Va. 414, 618
S.E.2d 423 (2005). In White, we found that the plain
language of the WVPLRA requires that "before an inmate
may bring a civil action challenging the conditions of
his/her confinement, he/she must first exhaust the
administrative remedies provided by the correctional facility
in which he/she is housed." Id. at 422, 618
S.E.2d at 431. We stated that "in order for Mr. White to
be permitted to file a civil cause of action to seek redress
for the allegedly inadequate medical care he has received at
Northern, he must first exhaust the administrative remedies
provided by Northern and demonstrate that he has done
so." Id. at 423, 618 S.E.2d at 432. Here, too,
petitioner must exhaust his administrative remedies at
Northern prior to filing a civil cause of action seeking
redress. The grievances filed at Mt. Olive will not suffice.
filing of grievances following the initiation of the instant
lawsuit will also not suffice. In White, we found
Mr. White's filing of his suit prior to the denial of his
second grievance to be "not fatal" to his suit only
"because Mr. White had already exhausted his
administrative remedies once before he filed his Marshall
County action[.]" Id. at 424, 618 S.E.2d at
433. We detailed that Mr. White filed a grievance, which was
denied by the Commissioner of Corrections over one month
before he filed his complaint. Id. We further found
that West Virginia Code § 25-1A-2(a) "requires only
that 'the administrative remedies promulgated by the
facility have been exhausted, ' not that such remedies be
twice exhausted." Id. Here, though,
petitioner filed his lawsuit before he filed his grievances
at Northern and before receiving any ruling on those
grievances. Accordingly, because petitioner failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies, we find no error in the circuit
court's dismissal of petitioner's petition. Finally,
because we find that dismissal was proper on this ground, we
need not consider petitioner's arguments concerning the
presuit notice requirements of West Virginia Code §
foregoing reasons, we affirm the circuit court's November
28, 2016, order ...