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Broken Gate? A Study of the PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Past, Present, and Future
Unformatted Document Text:  Broken Gate? (Smith, 1988). In the magistrate judge as “specialist” model, magistrate judges are utilized exclusively to address and resolve prisoner (and/or other specialized types) of litigation (Smith, 1988). In the magistrate judge as “additional judge” model, magistrate judges act, essentially, as additional district judges, presiding over civil actions from beginning to end (Smith, 1988). Finally, in the magistrate judge as “team player” model, magistrate judges are called upon to preside of the preliminary matters in a case, before passing the action on to a district judge for trial and/or final resolution (Smith, 1988). It is the last of these models – the magistrate judge as “team player” – that is most frequently utilized, and the model which, by definition, most lends itself to the pre- screening of prisoner claims ala the process used in the IFP statute described above (Smith, 1988). Since magistrate judges are already permitted to rule upon preliminary evidentiary matters, and are frequently the first, if not the only, judges to review inmate civil rights cases, they are likely the best suited for subjective inquiry into the nature of an inmate’s attempt to exhaust administrative remedies. The Proverbial Tip of the Iceberg? The loophole in the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement illustrated by the irreconcilability of the substantial compliance cases with the proper exhaustion cases may only scratch the surface of the persisting problems with application of the Act. Still looming on the horizon, and caused, by in large, by the Supreme Court’s opinion in Woodford, is the question of whether the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement applies to claims brought by former-inmates. Although, at first blush, it would appear an easily answered question, this matter is further complicated by the proper exhaustion line of 25

Authors: Passarelli, Mariah.
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Broken Gate?
(Smith, 1988).  In the magistrate judge as “specialist” model, magistrate judges are 
utilized exclusively to address and resolve prisoner (and/or other specialized types) of 
litigation (Smith, 1988).  In the magistrate judge as “additional judge” model, magistrate 
judges act, essentially, as additional district judges, presiding over civil actions from 
beginning to end (Smith, 1988).  Finally, in the magistrate judge as “team player” model, 
magistrate judges are called upon to preside of the preliminary matters in a case, before 
passing the action on to a district judge for trial and/or final resolution (Smith, 1988).  
It is the last of these models – the magistrate judge as “team player” – that is most 
frequently utilized, and the model which, by definition, most lends itself to the pre-
screening of prisoner claims ala the process used in the IFP statute described above 
(Smith, 1988).  Since magistrate judges are already permitted to rule upon preliminary 
evidentiary matters, and are frequently the first, if not the only, judges to review inmate 
civil rights cases, they are likely the best suited for subjective inquiry into the nature of 
an inmate’s attempt to exhaust administrative remedies.
The Proverbial Tip of the Iceberg?
The loophole in the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement illustrated by the 
irreconcilability of the substantial compliance cases with the proper exhaustion cases may 
only scratch the surface of the persisting problems with application of the Act.  Still 
looming on the horizon, and caused, by in large, by the Supreme Court’s opinion in 
Woodford, is the question of whether the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement applies to 
claims brought by former-inmates.  Although, at first blush, it would appear an easily 
answered question, this matter is further complicated by the proper exhaustion line of 

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