Eiland v. Lee County et al (INMATE2)

Filing 4

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 1 Inmate 1983 Complaint filed by Melton Lee Eiland, that: 1. Plaintiff's complaint against the named defendants be DISMISSED with prejudice prior to service of process pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915( e)(2)(B)(i); 2. Plaintiff's challenge to the execution of his 2001 sentence be summarily DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); and 3. This case be DISMISSED prior to service of process. Objections to R&R due by 1/23/2006. Signed by Judge Delores R. Boyd on 1/9/2006. (dmn)

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Eiland v. Lee County et al (INMATE2) Doc. 4 Case 3:05-cv-01231-WKW-DRB Document 4 Filed 01/09/2006 Page 1 of 7 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA E A ST E R N DIVISION __________________________________ M E LT O N LEE EILAND P l a i n t if f , v. LE E COUNTY, et al., * * * * 3:05-CV-1231-MHT-DRB (WO) D e f e n d a n ts . * __________________________________ RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE P la in tif f, an inmate proceeding pro se, filed this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action on D e c em b e r 28, 2005. He complains that a mistake in sentencing has resulted in a violation o f his constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief. Named as defendants are Lee C o u n ty, Alabama, the City of Auburn, Judge Bailey, and the District Attorney. Upon review of the pleadings filed by Plaintiff, the court concludes that dismissal of t h i s case prior to service of process is appropriate in accordance with the directives of 28 U .S.C . 1915(e)(2)(B). 1 I . DISCUSSION In 2001 Plaintiff was convicted of six misdemeanors. During his appeal of these When a prisoner is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a federal civil action, this court must screen his complaint in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). This screening procedure requires the court to dismiss such an action at any time, regardless of payment of the filing fee or any portion thereof, if it determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). 1 Dockets.Justia.com Case 3:05-cv-01231-WKW-DRB Document 4 Filed 01/09/2006 Page 2 of 7 c a s e s , Plaintiff "caught another charge (felony)." He asserts that the during sentencing p roc ee d ing s on the felony charge, the trial judge and district attorney agreed to run Plaintiff's m is d e m e a n o r and felony convictions concurrently. Plaintiff files the instant action alleging th a t after his recent arrest in June 2005, he learned that his continued detention is due to the 2 0 0 1 misdemeanor convictions which appear not to have run concurrent with his 2001 fe lo n y conviction. As a result, the court understands Plaintiff to allege that his present in c a rc e ra tio n for the 2001 misdemeanor convictions is unlawful since, per court order, he s h o u ld have already served time for these convictions while serving time for the 2001 felony c o n vi c ti o n . A . District Attorney P lain tiff names the "District Attorney" as a defendant. Prosecutors are entitled to a b s o l u te immunity from damages for acts or omissions associated with the judicial process, in particular, those taken in initiating a prosecution and in presenting the government's case. S e e Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430-31: Jones v. Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1281 (11 th C ir.1 9 9 9 ). And while "prosecutors do not enjoy absolute immunity from [declaratory and in ju n c tive relief] claims," see Tarter v. Hury, 646 F.2d 1010, 1012 (5 th Cir. 1981), in order to receive declaratory or injunctive relief, Plaintiff must establish that there was a violation, th a t there is a serious risk of continuing irreparable injury if the relief is not granted, and the ab sen ce of an adequate remedy at law. See Newman v. Alabama, 683 F.2d 1312 (11 th Cir. 1 9 8 2 ). -2- Case 3:05-cv-01231-WKW-DRB Document 4 Filed 01/09/2006 Page 3 of 7 H e re , there is an adequate remedy at law for the violation alleged by Plaintiff in his c o m p l a in t . Specifically, Plaintiff may appeal any rulings or actions taken in his criminal case n o t only to the highest state court with jurisdiction to hear the claim but also to the United State s Supreme Court. In addition, Plaintiff may seek a writ of habeas corpus in this court. S e e 28 U.S.C. 2241, 2254. Accordingly, there is an adequate remedy at law and Plaintiff is not entitled to declaratory or injunctive relief in this case against Defendant District A tto r n e y . B . Judge Bailey T o the extent that Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief for actions taken by the state courts w ith respect to his 2001 sentencing matters, this court lacks jurisdiction to render such ju d gm e n t. A federal court has no jurisdiction or right to grant relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 w ith respect to challenges to state court decisions in particular cases arising out of state court p ro c e e d in gs even if those challenges allege that the court's action was unconstitutional. D is tr ic t of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983); Datz v. K ilg o r e , 51 F.3d 252 (11 th Cir. 1995); cf. Berman v. Florida Board of Bar Examiners, 794 F . 2 d 1529 (11 th Cir. 1986). An action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 may not be used a s a substitute to appeal a decision of a state circuit court. Datz, 51 F.3d at 254 (finding that a 1983 suit arising from alleged erroneous decisions of a state court is merely a prohibited ap p ea l of the state court judgment); Rolleston v. Eldridge, 848 F.2d 163 (11 th Cir. 1988). L i k e w is e , a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action may not be used to compel a state court to take a -3- Case 3:05-cv-01231-WKW-DRB Document 4 Filed 01/09/2006 Page 4 of 7 p a rticu lar course of action because this court has no authority to issue a writ directing state co u rts or their judicial officers in the performance of their duties. Lamar v. 118 Judicial Dist. C o u r t of Texas, 440 F.2d 383, 384 (5 th Cir. 1971); Haggard v. State of Tennessee, 421 F.2d 1 3 8 4 , 1386 (6 th Cir.1970); Gurley v. Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, 411 F.2d 586, 5 8 7 (4 th Cir. 1969). C . The Habeas Claim It is clear to this court that success on Plaintiff's challenge to the execution of his 2 0 0 1 sentence would necessarily imply the invalidity of his current incarceration. C o n se q u e n tly , the claim presented by Plaintiff is not cognizable in a 1983 action at this tim e. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994); Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997); s e e generally Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 478-79 (3 r d Cir.1991) (where the relief s o u gh t as the result of an alleged sentencing mistake would reduce an inmate's term of co n fin em en t, jurisdiction under 2241 is appropriate). In Heck, the Supreme Court held that a claim for damages challenging the legality of a prisoner's confinement is not cognizable in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action "unless and until the . . . sentence is reversed, expunged, invalidated, or impugned by the grant of a writ of habeas co rpu s" and complaints containing such claims must therefore be dismissed. Id. 512 U.S. a t 483-489. The Court emphasized that "habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state p ris o n e r who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or s p e e d ie r release, even though such a claim may come within the literal terms of 1983" and, -4- Case 3:05-cv-01231-WKW-DRB Document 4 Filed 01/09/2006 Page 5 of 7 b a se d on the foregoing, concluded that Heck's complaint was due to be dismissed as no ca u se of action existed under section 1983. Id. at 481. In so doing, the Court rejected the lo w e r court's reasoning that a section 1983 action should be construed as a habeas corpus a c ti o n . In Balisok, the Court further determined that a prisoner's "claim for [both] declaratory r e lie f and money damages" that necessarily implies the invalidity of the action taken against th e prisoner "is not cognizable under 1983" unless such action has previously been o verturn ed . Id. 520 U.S. at 648. Moreover, the Court determined that this is true not only w h en a prisoner challenges the judgment as a substantive matter but also when "the nature o f the challenge to the procedures could be such as necessarily to imply the invalidity of the ju d gm e n t." Id. at 645. 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. In the present complaint, Plaintiff challenges an alleged error during sentencing p ro c e e d in gs in 2001 which is causing him to currently be unlawfully imprisoned. This claim, if established, would necessarily imply the invalidity of Plaintiff's present confinement. It is clear from the pleadings before the court that Plaintiff's challenge to the sentencing error in question has not been invalidated in an appropriate proceeding. Consequently, the instant c o lla te ra l attack on such action is prohibited by Heck and Balisok, and Plaintiff's claim is, th e re fo re , due to be dismissed as he has no present cause of action under 42 U.S.C. 1983. -5- Case 3:05-cv-01231-WKW-DRB Document 4 Filed 01/09/2006 Page 6 of 7 D . Lee County and the City of Auburn P la in tiff ' s 1983 claims challenging the validity of the manner in which his 2001 sen tenc e was executed are not cognizable under Heck, 512 U.S. 477, or Balisok, 520 U.S. 6 4 1 . As such, the claims lack an arguable basis in law and the court finds that they are, th e re fo re , due to be dismissed as against Lee County and the City of Auburn. I I . CONCLUSION A c c o rd in gly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that: 1 . Plaintiff's complaint against the named defendants be DISMISSED with prejudice p rio r to service of process pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i); 2 . Plaintiff's challenge to the execution of his 2001 sentence be summarily D ISM ISSE D pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); and 3. This case be DISMISSED prior to service of process. It is further O R D E R E D that the parties are DIRECTED to file any objections to the said R e c o m m e n d atio n on or before January 23, 2006. Any objections filed must specifically id e n tif y the findings in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation objected to. Frivolous, co n clus ive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are a d vis e d that this Recommendation is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not a p p e a la b le . F a ilu re to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations in the -6- Case 3:05-cv-01231-WKW-DRB Document 4 Filed 01/09/2006 Page 7 of 7 M a g i s tra te Judge's report shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the District C o u rt of issues covered in the report and shall bar the party from attacking on appeal factual fin d in gs in the report accepted or adopted by the District Court except upon grounds of plain erro r or manifest injustice. Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404 (5 th Cir. 1982). See Stein v . Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 33 (11 th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of P ric h a r d , 661 F.2d 1206 (11 th Cir. 1981, en banc), adopting as binding precedent all of the d e c is io n s of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on Se p te m b e r 30, 1981. D o n e this 9 th day of January 2006. /s / Delores R. Boyd D E LO R E S R. BOYD U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE -7-

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