Abu-Jamal Gets Federal Court Hearing Seeking Order to Treat His Hepatitis-C Infection
The second in a three-part series on Mumia Abu-Jamal's fight to force the Pennsylvania prison system to treat his active Hep-C infection, and that of thousands of other infected state inmates, and on the raging Hepatitis-C epidemic in the nation's prisons. (Click here for Part I)
Scranton -- It’s always risky to try to second-guess how a judge will ultimately rule, simply based on that judge’s comments during a court hearing, or on which side’s attorney has objections over-ruled more frequently.
Having said that, Federal District Judge Robert Mariani, during a hearing Friday to consider a request by state prison inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal for a preliminary injunction ordering the state to provide appropriate treatment for his active case of a potentially fatal Hepatitis-C viral infection, showed impatience and even annoyance with the state’s efforts, both at the prison and including in court, to continue refusing treatment and to delay any legal hearing on the issue.
The proceeding began in a packed courtroom in the William J. Nealon Federal Building and US Courthouse here with consideration of a motion by Laura Neal, an attorney for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) to have Abu-Jamal’s appeal summarily rejected on the grounds that he had allegedly “not fully exhausted” administrative grievance remedies concerning his lack of medical treatment by the DOC and that he had specifically not asked in his initial complaint for treatment for Hep C.
Judge Mariani pointed out from the bench that the DOC, despite Abu-Jamal’s displaying grave signs of a mystery skin ailment that had turned the skin on most of his body into what prison doctors described as “elephant skin,” and despite his sudden development of type-2 diabetes, which within a few weeks of onset had raised his blood glucose to a life-threatening level, causing him to collapse into unconsciousness, and despite having known since a prison screening blood test in 2012 that he had contracted Hep C, had not, at that point, even conducted a test to look for signs of the active virus in his blood until May of 2015. That was well after he had already filed his initial complaint.
When attorney Neal continued to insist the Abu-Jamal had not exhausted his grievance option, and later that he had not named the specific doctors involved in his care at the prison, the judge said, “What he (Abu-Jamal) asserts is a lack of diagnosis and an absence of medical care. If you say that to exhaust (his grievance remedy option) he has to name every doctor involved, that’s a tortured argument.”