(HC) Smith v. Clark

Filing 8

FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS to Dismiss 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus; ORDER Directing Clerk of Court to Assign District Judge, signed by Magistrate Judge Erica P. Grosjean on 11/19/2021. Objections to F&R due within THIRTY DAYS. (Marrujo, C)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 LAWRENCE CHRISTOPHER SMITH, 12 Petitioner, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DISMISS PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS v. 13 14 Case No. 1:21-cv-01589-EPG-HC KEN CLARK, 15 ORDER DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO ASSIGN DISTRICT JUDGE Respondent. 16 17 Petitioner Lawrence Christopher Smith is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a 18 petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Given that the instant petition 19 challenges conditions of confinement and thus, is not cognizable in federal habeas corpus, the 20 undersigned recommends that the petition be dismissed. 21 I. 22 DISCUSSION 23 Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases requires preliminary review of a 24 habeas petition and allows a district court to dismiss a petition before the respondent is ordered 25 to file a response, if it “plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the 26 petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 27 Cases in the United States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254. 28 /// 1 1 A. Federal Habeas Corpus Jurisdiction 2 By statute, federal courts “shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in 3 behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he 4 is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. 5 § 2254(a). A claim is cognizable in habeas when a prisoner challenges “the fact or duration of his 6 confinement” and “seeks either immediate release from that confinement or the shortening of its 7 duration.” Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 489 (1973). In contrast, a civil rights action 8 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the proper method for a prisoner to challenge the conditions of 9 confinement. McCarthy v. Bronson, 500 U.S. 136, 141–42 (1991); Preiser, 411 U.S. at 499. In the instant petition, Petitioner challenges his placement in the Mental Health Services 10 11 Delivery System (“MHSDS”) at the Correctional Clinical Case Management System 12 (“CCCMS”) level of care based on Petitioner’s refusal to answer questions during the intake 13 process in October 2020. (ECF No. 1 at 4–5).1 Petitioner does not challenge any aspect of his 14 underlying criminal conviction or sentence or the fact or duration of his confinement. The Ninth 15 Circuit has “long held that prisoners may not challenge mere conditions of confinement in 16 habeas corpus.” Nettles v. Grounds, 830 F.3d 922, 933 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc) (citing 17 Crawford v. Bell, 599 F.2d 890, 891–92 (9th Cir. 1979)). As Petitioner’s claims do not fall 18 within “the core of habeas corpus,” Preiser, 411 U.S. at 487, they must be brought under 42 19 U.S.C. § 1983, Nettles, 830 F.3d at 931. Accordingly, Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable 20 claim for federal habeas corpus relief. 21 B. Conversion to § 1983 Civil Rights Action 22 “If the complaint is amenable to conversion on its face, meaning that it names the correct 23 defendants and seeks the correct relief, the court may recharacterize the petition so long as it 24 warns the pro se litigant of the consequences of the conversion and provides an opportunity for 25 the litigant to withdraw or amend his or her complaint.” Nettles, 830 F.3d at 936 (quoting Glaus 26 v. Anderson, 408 F.3d 382, 388 (7th Cir. 2005)). The Court notes that habeas corpus and 27 prisoner civil rights actions differ in a variety of respects, such as the proper defendants, filing 28 1 Page numbers refer to the ECF page numbers stamped at the top of the page. 2 1 fees, exhaustion requirements, and restrictions on future filings (e.g., the Prison Litigation 2 Reform Act’s three-strikes rule). Nettles, 830 F.3d at 936 (citing Robinson v. Sherrod, 631 F.3d 3 839, 841 (7th Cir. 2011); Glaus, 408 F.3d at 388). In addition to the instant federal habeas petition, Petitioner has filed a § 1983 complaint 4 5 in the Sacramento division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of 6 California that is proceeding in Smith v. Secretary, No. 2:21-cv-00519-WBS-DB.2 Petitioner’s 7 pending § 1983 complaint includes allegations that largely mirror the allegations in the instant 8 habeas petition regarding Petitioner’s involuntary placement in MHSDS at the CCCMS level of 9 care in October 2020. Accordingly, the undersigned finds that it would be inappropriate to 10 construe the instant federal habeas petition as a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 11 given that conversion would result in a duplicative action. 12 II. 13 RECOMMENDATION & ORDER Accordingly, the undersigned HEREBY RECOMMENDS that that the petition for writ 14 15 of habeas corpus be dismissed. Further, the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to randomly assign a District Court Judge to 16 17 the present matter. This Findings and Recommendation is submitted to the assigned United States District 18 19 Court Judge, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(B) and Rule 304 of the Local 20 Rules of Practice for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. Within 21 THIRTY (30) days after service of the Findings and Recommendation, Petitioner may file 22 written objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be 23 captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendation.” The assigned 24 United States District Court Judge will then review the Magistrate Judge’s ruling pursuant to 28 25 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified 26 /// 27 2 The Court may take judicial notice of its own records in other cases. United States v. Wilson, 631 F.2d 118, 119 28 (9th Cir. 1980). 3 1 time may waive the right to appeal the District Court’s order. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 2 834, 839 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 3 4 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: November 19, 2021 /s/ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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