Stephen v. Jump
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Magistrate Judge that the Court DISMISS Stephen's 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, DIRECT the Clerk to CLOSE this case, and DENY Stephen in forma pauperis status on appeal. The Court ORDERS any party see king to object to this Report and Recommendation to file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and Recommendation is entered. (Objections to R&R due by 8/31/2017). ORDER directing service of the REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge. Signed by Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker on 8/17/2017. (ca)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
AARON L. STEPHEN,
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 2:17-cv-94
ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Petitioner Aaron L. Stephen (“Stephen”), who is currently incarcerated at Glynn County
Detention Center (“GCDC”) in Brunswick, Georgia, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) For the reasons which follow, the Court DENIES
Stephen’s Motion to Proceed in Forma Papueris, (doc. 2). Furthermore, I RECOMMEND that
the Court DISMISS Stephen’s Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case, and
DENY Stephen in forma pauperis status on appeal.
On August 9, 2017, Stephen filed this Petition contesting the conditions of his
confinement. (Doc. 1.) In particular, Stephen claims that Respondent violated his constitutional
rights by failing to provide him with an attorney and access to an adequate law library. (Id. at
p. 3.) Stephen also alleges that his “conditions of confinement are exactly parrallel [sic] to a
accussed [sic] terrorist being detained at [Guantanamo] Bay.” (Id.)
Whether Stephen Sets Forth Habeas Corpus Relief
Although Stephen brings this action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, the contentions he sets forth
and the relief he seeks fall outside the purview of that statute. Stephen’s claims would ordinarily
be brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The distinction between claims which may be brought
under Section 1983 and those which must be brought as habeas petitions is reasonably well
settled. Claims in which prisoners challenge the circumstances of their confinement are Section
1983 actions, not habeas actions. See, e.g., Hill v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 573, 579 (2006).
Habeas actions, in contrast, explicitly or by necessary implication, challenge a prisoner’s
conviction or the sentence imposed on him by a court (or under the administrative system
implementing the judgment). Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973).
example, when a prisoner makes a claim that, if successful, could shorten or invalidate his term
of imprisonment, the claim must be brought as a habeas petition, not as a Section 1983 claim.
See, e.g., Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
Stephen cannot bring the claims he asserts via a habeas petition. His claims concerning
lack of legal services at GCDC contest the conditions of his confinement and are not cognizable
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Moreover, he does not seek to challenge his sentence, conviction,
or duration of confinement. Rather, he simply requests that Respondent or the Court provide
him with an attorney. (Doc. 1, pp. 3–4.) In fact, Plaintiff clearly states in his Petition that he
“has filed a 42 [U.S.C.] § 1983 petition/civil action to contest the conditions of confinement,
however that may or may not be a proper remedy for the petitioner.” (Id. at p. 4.)
Accordingly, the Court DENIES Stephen’s Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis, (doc. 2). Additionally, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Stephen’s Petition.
Whether Stephen can Bring his Claims Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
“Federal courts sometimes will ignore the legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a
motion and recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a different legal category.” Retic
v. United States, 215 F. App’x 962, 964 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Castro v. United States, 540
U.S. 375, 381 (2003)). This Court may “recharacterize a pro se litigant’s motion to create a
better correspondence between the substance of the motion and its underlying legal basis.”
Rameses v. United States District Court, 523 F. App’x 691, 694 (11th Cir. 2013). Federal courts
“may do so in order to avoid an unnecessary dismissal, to avoid inappropriately stringent
application of formal labeling requirements, or to create a better correspondence between the
substance of the motion and its underlying legal basis.” Id. (quoting Castro, 540 U.S. at 381–
To the extent Stephen seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, his attempt also fails.
As Stephen mentions in his Petition, he has at least one pending Section 1983 action—a search
of the case management system reveals two—bringing the same claims and alleging the same
facts. (Doc. 1, p. 4); see Compl., Stephen v. Austin, et al., No. 2:17-cv-93 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 7,
2017), ECF No. 1; Compl., Stephen v. Glynn Cty. Det. Ctr., No. 2:17-cv-79 (S.D. Ga. July 7,
2017), ECF No. 1. “It is well settled that a plaintiff may not file duplicative complaints in order
to expand their legal rights.” Vanover v. NCO Fin. Serv., Inc., 857 F.3d 833, 841 (11th Cir.
2017) (quotations and citations omitted). Simply because Stephen does not know whether a
Section 2241 or Section 1983 action will grant him relief does not mean that he may file
duplicative pleadings under both statutes. See also Curtis v. Citibank, N.A., 226 F.3d 133, 138
(2d Cir. 2000) (“The power to dismiss a duplicative lawsuit is meant to foster judicial economy
and the ‘comprehensive disposition of litigation.’”) (citing Kerotest Mfg. Co. v. C-O-Two Fire
Equipment Co., 342 U.S. 180, 183 (1952)); Oliney v. Gardner, 771 F.2d 856, 859 (5th Cir. 1985)
(“When a plaintiff files a second complaint alleging the same cause of action as a prior, pending,
related action, the second complaint may be dismissed.”) (emphasis in original); Walton v. Eaton
Corp., 563 F.2d 66, 70 (3d. Cir. 1977) (“[I]t is clear that [plaintiff] had no right to maintain two
separate actions involving the same subject matter at the same time in the same court and against
the same defendant.”).
Moreover, Section 1983 liability must be based on something more than a defendant’s
supervisory position or a theory of respondeat superior. Bryant v. Jones, 575 F.3d 1281, 1299
(11th Cir. 2009); Braddy v. Fla. Dep’t of Labor & Emp’t Sec., 133 F.3d 797, 801 (11th Cir.
A supervisor may be liable only through personal participation in the alleged
constitutional violation or when there is a causal connection between the supervisor’s conduct
and the alleged violations. Id. at 802. “To state a claim against a supervisory defendant, the
plaintiff must allege (1) the supervisor’s personal involvement in the violation of his
constitutional rights, (2) the existence of a custom or policy that resulted in deliberate
indifference to the plaintiff’s constitutional rights, (3) facts supporting an inference that the
supervisor directed the unlawful action or knowingly failed to prevent it, or (4) a history of
widespread abuse that put the supervisor on notice of an alleged deprivation that he then failed to
correct.” Barr v. Gee, 437 F. App’x 865, 875 (11th Cir. 2011).
Here, Stephen fails to make any factual allegations that Respondent directly participated
in or was otherwise causally connected to the alleged deprivation of his constitutional rights.
Thus, for all the reasons stated above, Stephen cannot bring a Section 1983 action against the
Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis
The Court should also deny Stephen leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Stephen
has, of course, not yet filed a notice of appeal, it would be appropriate to address these issues in
the Court’s order of dismissal. See Fed. R. App. R. 24(a)(1)(A) (“A party who was permitted to
proceed in forma pauperis in the district-court action, . . ., may proceed on appeal in forma
pauperis without further authorization, unless the district court—before or after the notice of
appeal is filed—certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith[.]”) (italics supplied). An
appeal cannot be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies, either before or after the
notice of appeal is filed, that the appeal is not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). Good
faith in this context must be judged by an objective standard. Busch v. Cty. of Volusia, 189
F.R.D. 687, 691 (M.D. Fla. 1999). A party does not proceed in good faith when he seeks to
advance a frivolous claim or argument. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445
(1962). A claim or argument is frivolous when it appears the factual allegations are clearly
baseless or the legal theories are indisputably meritless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327
(1989); Carroll v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). Stated another way, an in forma
pauperis action is frivolous and, thus, not brought in good faith, if it is “without arguable merit
either in law or fact.” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002); see also Brown v.
United States, Nos. 407CV085, 403CR001, 2009 WL 307872, at *1–2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 9, 2009).
Based on the above analysis of Stephen’s Petition, the Court should DENY Stephen in
forma pauperis status on appeal, as there are no non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal, and any
appeal would not be taken in good faith.
For the above-stated reasons, the Court DENIES Stephen’s Motion for Leave to Proceed
in Forma Pauperis, (doc. 2).
Additionally, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS
Stephen’s Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case, and DENY Stephen in
forma pauperis status on appeal.
The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to
file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and
Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that the Magistrate Judge failed to address
any contention raised in the Complaint must also be included. Failure to do so will bar any later
challenge or review of the factual findings or legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). A copy of the objections must be
served upon all other parties to the action. The filing of objections is not a proper vehicle
through which to make new allegations or present additional evidence.
Upon receipt of Objections meeting the specificity requirement set out above, a United
States District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of the report, proposed
findings, or recommendation to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. Objections not
meeting the specificity requirement set out above will not be considered by a District Judge. A
party may not appeal a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation directly to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Appeals may be made only from a final
judgment entered by or at the direction of a District Judge.
The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to serve a copy of this Report and
Recommendation upon Stephen.
SO ORDERED and REPORTED and RECOMMENDED, this 17th day of August,
R. STAN BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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