Williams v. Alabama Department of Corrections et al (INMATE 1)

Filing 5

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 1 Inmate 1983 Complaint filed by Willie Kevin Williams; it is the Recommendation of the Mag Judge that this case be dismissed without prejudice prior to service of process in accordance with the provisions of 28 USC 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); Objections to R&R due by 6/29/2009. Signed by Honorable Wallace Capel, Jr on 6/16/09. (vma, )

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION W IL L IE KEVIN WILLIAMS A IS #173816, ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) ) ) A LAB A M A DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) C I V I L ACTION NO. 2:09-CV-519-ID [W O ] RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE I . INTRODUCTION In this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, Willie Kevin Williams ["Williams"], a state inmate, c h a llen g e s the constitutionality of his confinement pursuant to a sentence imposed upon him f o r a 2003 criminal offense. Specifically, Williams argues that reliance by correctional o f f icia ls on a fifteen-year sentence imposed upon him by the Circuit Court of Baldwin C o u n t y, Alabama on October 19, 2006 as the basis for his incarceration is improper because th e trial court originally imposed only a sentence of ten years for the offense. In support of th is argument, Williams complains that on October 19, 2006 "the Circuit Court of Baldwin C o u n ty [erroneously] increased his sentence [on case number CC-03.407.70] to 15 years f ro m a Revocation that was dismissed in open Court...." Plaintiff's Complaint - Court Doc. N o . 1 at 1. U p o n review of the complaint, the court concludes that dismissal of this case prior to serv ice of process is proper under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).1 I I . DISCUSSION W illia m s asserts "that the court[] sentenced [him] to one sentence [of 10 years] but ... [after proceedings on October 19, 2006] sent an Order [to correctional officials] for [him] to serve another sentence [under CC-03.407.70] which was (15) years." Plaintiff's C o m p la in t - Court Doc. No. 1 at 2. Williams complains that correctional officials are relying o n the 15-year sentence submitted by the Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama to ca lculate his release date which has resulted in a release date greater than the original term o f his sentence. Thus, the claims presented to this court go to the fundamental legality of the len g th of Williams' current incarceration and, therefore, provide no basis for relief at this tim e . Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 646 (1997); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (19 9 4 ); Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). In Heck, the Supreme Court held that a claim for damages challenging the legality of a prisoner's conviction or confinement is not cognizable in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action "unless a n d until the conviction or sentence is reversed, expunged, invalidated, or impugned by the g ra n t of a writ of habeas corpus" and complaints containing such claims must therefore be 1 The court entered an order granting Williams leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this cause of action. O r d er of June 16, 2009 - Court Doc. No. 4. Consequently, Williams must have his complaint screened in acco rd an ce with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B) which requires the court to dismiss a prisoner's civil action prior to service of process if it determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim u p o n which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 2 8 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). 2 d ism issed . 512 U.S. at 483-489. Under Heck, the relevant inquiry is "whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence." 5 1 2 U.S. at 487. The Court emphasized that "habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a ... prisoner who challenges" the basis for his confinement "even though such a claim may co m e within the literal terms of 1983" and, based on the foregoing, concluded that Heck's c o m p la in t was due to be dismissed as no cause of action existed under section 1983. 512 U .S . at 481. In so doing, the Court rejected the lower court's reasoning that a section 1983 a c tio n should be construed as a habeas corpus action. In Balisok, the Court concluded that a state prisoner's "claim[s] for declaratory [and in j u n c t iv e ] relief and money damages, ... that necessarily imply the invalidity of the p u n ish m e n t imposed, is not cognizable under 1983 ..." unless the prisoner can demonstrate th a t the challenged action has previously been invalidated. 520 U.S. at 648. Moreover, the C o u r t determined that this is true not only when a prisoner challenges the judgment as a s u b s ta n tiv e matter but also when "the nature of the challenge to the procedures could be such a s necessarily to imply the invalidity of the judgment." Id. at 645. The Court reiterated the p o s itio n taken in Heck that the "sole remedy in federal court" for a prisoner challenging the c o n s titu tio n a lity of a term of incarceration is a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Balisok, 5 2 0 U.S. at 645. Additionally, the Court "reemphasize[d] ... that a claim either is cognizable u n d e r 1983 and should immediately go forward, or is not cognizable and should be d is m is s e d ." Id. at 649. 3 W illiam s challenges the constitutionality of his confinement with respect to the length o f a sentence imposed upon him by the Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama. A ju d g m e n t in favor of Williams on this complaint would necessarily imply the invalidity of the le n g th of his incarceration based on this sentence. The record of this court does not d e m o n s tra te that the sentence and resulting confinement about which the plaintiff complains h a v e been invalidated in an appropriate proceeding. Consequently, the instant collateral a tta c k is prohibited and subject to summary dismissal in accordance with the provisions of 28 U .S .C . 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Balisok, 520 U.S. at 645; Heck, 512 U.S. at 481; Preiser v. R o d r ig u e z, 411 U.S. 475, 488-490 (1973).2 I I I . CONCLUSION A c c o rd in g ly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that this case be d is m is s e d without prejudice prior to service of process in accordance with the provisions of 2 8 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). It is further ORDERED that on or before June 29, 2009, the parties may file objections to this R e c o m m e n d a ti o n . Any objections filed must specifically identify the findings in the M a g is tra te Judge's Recommendation to which the party is objecting. Frivolous, conclusive o r general objections will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are advised that 2 The plaintiff is advised that if he seeks to challenge the terms of the sentence(s) imposed upon him by th e Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama, he may do so by filing a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas c o rp u s relief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama which is located in Mobile, A lab am a. 4 th is Recommendation is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not appealable. F a ilu re to file written objections to the proposed findings and advisements in the M a g is tra te Judge's Recommendation shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the D is tric t Court of issues covered in the Recommendation and shall bar the party from attacking o n appeal factual findings in the Recommendation accepted or adopted by the District Court e x c e p t upon grounds of plain error or manifest injustice. Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404 (5 th Cir. 1982). See Stein v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 33 (11th Cir. 1982). See also B o n n e r v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206 (11th Cir. 1981, en banc), adopting as binding p re c ed e n t all of the decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of b u s in e ss on September 30, 1981. D o n e this 16th day of June, 2009. /s / Wallace Capel, Jr. W A L L A C E CAPEL, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 5

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