The U.S. Supreme Court said yesterday that a California inmate must file a grievance before bringing a suit claiming he was wrongly punished for alleged inappropriate activity with volunteer priests, reports the Associated Press. Justices decided, 6 to 3, that because convicted murderer Viet Mike Ngo missed a prison system deadline for grievances, he could not bring the federal lawsuit. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court, said the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong in allowing Ngo’s lawsuit.
Alito said that the court rejected Ngo’s argument that requiring inmates to follow state prison grievance systems “is harsh for prisoners, who generally are untrained in the law and are often poorly educated.” “This argument overlooks the informality and relative simplicity of prison grievance systems like California’s,” Alito said. In dissent, three justices said “the Constitution guarantees that prisoners, like all citizens, have a reasonably adequate opportunity to raise constitutional claims before impartial judges.”