Ludtke v. Borg

Filing 7

ORDER OF DISMISSAL. The action is dismissed without prejudice. Signed by Judge William H. Orrick on 10/12/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (jmdS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/12/2016)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 AARON A. LUDTKE, Plaintiff, v. Case No. 16-cv-05386-WHO (PR) ORDER OF DISMISSAL EDWARD BORG, Defendant. 16 17 INTRODUCTION 18 Plaintiff Aaron A. Ludtke filed this civil rights action against the Lake County 19 assistant district attorney, Edward Borg, who successfully prosecuted him. The United 20 States Supreme Court in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-487 (1994) barred claims 21 brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that, if successful, would appear to invalidate a conviction 22 or sentence that has not already been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive 23 order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called 24 into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Ludtke’s case 25 appears to do what Heck v Humphrey precludes. Accordingly, his suit is DISMISSED 26 without prejudice. 27 28 1 2 DISCUSSION A. Standard of Review 3 In its initial review of this pro se complaint, this Court must dismiss any claim that 4 is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks 5 monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. 6 § 1915(e). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police 7 Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). A “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a 8 claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) 10 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the 12 reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting 13 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Furthermore, a court “is not required to accept legal 14 conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably 15 be drawn from the facts alleged.” Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754–55 16 (9th Cir. 1994). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential 17 18 elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was 19 violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the 20 color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). 21 B. Legal Claims Ludtke, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed this section 1983 suit against 22 23 Lake County prosecutor Borg for successfully prosecuting him for willfully failing to 24 update his registration as a sex offender.1 In order to recover damages for an allegedly 25 unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose 26 unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 plaintiff 27 28 1 People v. Ludtke, No. A144485, 2016 WL 2658141 (Cal. Ct. App. May 6, 2016). 2 1 must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged 2 by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such 3 determination, or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas 4 corpus. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-487 (1994). A claim for damages bearing 5 that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not 6 cognizable under section 1983. Id. at 487. 7 Where, as in this case, a state prisoner seeks damages in a section 1983 suit, the 8 district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily 9 imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has been 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 invalidated. Id. at 487. Here, a judgment that defendant, while acting as prosecutor, 12 violated Ludtke’s constitutional rights would necessarily imply the invalidity of his 13 conviction or sentence. 14 Because it is not clear from the complaint that Ludtke’s convictions have been 15 invalidated, this section 1983 suit is barred by Heck. Accordingly, the action is 16 DISMISSED without prejudice to Ludtke refiling such claims when he can make such a 17 showing. 18 19 If Ludtke wishes to challenge the constitutional validity of his state conviction(s), he should exhaust his state judicial remedies before filing for federal relief. 20 21 22 23 24 CONCLUSION This federal civil rights action is DISMISSED without prejudice. The Clerk shall enter judgment in favor of defendant, and close the file. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 12, 2016 _________________________ WILLIAM H. ORRICK United States District Judge 25 26 27 28 3

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