Craig v. Taylor
Memorandum Opinion and Order Dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint: this case is dismissed as frivolous. This dismissal will count as a "strike" in accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Signed by Chief District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr on 1/23/2017 (wld)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
HENRY LEE CRAIG, #76582
CAUSE NO. 1:16-cv-377-LG-RHW
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DISMISSING PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT
This cause is before the Court, sua sponte, for consideration of dismissal.
Plaintiff Henry Lee Craig, an inmate of the Mississippi Department of Corrections,
brings this pro se Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Craig is proceeding in
forma pauperis. See Order . The named Defendant is Calvin Taylor, Attorneyat-law. The Court, having liberally construed Craig’s Complaint  and Amended
Complaint  in consideration with the applicable law, finds that this case should
Facts and Procedural History
In 2011, Craig was convicted of murder in the Jackson County Circuit Court
and sentenced to life imprisonment. Craig v. State, 110 So. 3d 807, 808 (Miss. Ct.
App. 2012). Taylor represented Craig at his murder trial. Compl.  at 5 (CM/ECF
pagination). Craig complains that Taylor violated his constitutional rights and civil
rights. Specifically, Craig claims that Taylor conspired with state officials to
conceal “the crime of intimidation by federal agents” during Craig’s trial. Id.; Am.
Compl.  at 3. (CM/ECF pagination).
Craig brings this Complaint on forms available for prisoners suing under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and also states that he if filing his claims under §§1981, 1985, and
1986. Compl.  at 6 (CM/ECF pagination). Craig seeks “compensatory relief,
punitive relief, injunctive relief,” attorney’s fees and “whatever this Court deems
necessary to grant Plaintiff relief.” Id. at 4; Am. Compl.  at 5 (CM/ECF
The Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (as amended),
applies to prisoner proceedings in forma pauperis, and provides that “the court shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . (B) the action or appeal
-- (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” Since Craig is proceeding in forma pauperis, his Complaint is subject to the
case-screening procedures set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2). Having completed
that screening, it is apparent that Craig’s claims are barred by the applicable
statute of limitations and by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
In addition to this case, Craig has filed eight other Complaints in this Court
against various individuals involved in his criminal case from witnesses and jurors to law
enforcement officers, attorneys, and judges. See Craig v. Ishee, cause no. 3:16-cv-804;
Craig v. Gore, cause no. 3:16-cv-805; Craig v. Holmes, cause no. 3:16-cv-806; Craig v.
Fountain, 1:16-cv-372; Craig v. Lorraine, cause no. 1:16-cv-373; Craig v. Lawrence, cause
no. 1:16-cv-375; Craig v. Taylor, cause no. 1:16-cv-407; and Craig v. King, cause no. 1:16cv-421.
Statute of Limitations
“A district court ‘may raise the defense of limitations sua sponte . . . [and]
[d]ismissal is appropriate if it is clear from the face of the complaint that the claims
asserted are barred by the applicable statute of limitations.’” Stanley v. Foster, 464
F.3d 565, 568 (5th Cir. 2006) (quoting Harris v. Hegmann, 198 F.3d 153, 156 (5th
Cir. 1999)). Since there is no federal statute of limitations for civil rights actions
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a federal court must borrow the forum state’s
general personal injury limitations period. See Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 240
(1989); see also Mitchell v. Crescent River Port Pilots Ass’n, 265 F. App’x 363, 367,
367 n.3 (5th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted) (holding state’s personal injury limitation
period applies to claims under §§ 1981, 1983, and 1985, but noting that § 1986
specifically includes a one-year statute of limitations). The applicable Mississippi
statute of limitations period is three years. See James v. Sadler, 909 F.2d 834, 836
(5th Cir. 1990) (holding Mississippi’s three-year general personal injury limitations
period applicable to § 1983 cases); see also Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49 (1972), as
While Mississippi law governs the applicable limitations period, “the accrual
date of a § 1983 cause of action is a question of federal law that is not resolved by
reference to state law.” Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007). As such, an
action accrues when a plaintiff has “a complete and present cause of action.” Id. As
noted by the Fifth Circuit:
Under federal law, the [limitations] period begins to run the
moment the plaintiff becomes aware that he has suffered an
injury or has sufficient information to know that he has been
injured. A plaintiff’s awareness encompasses two elements: (1)
the existence of the injury; and (2) causation, that is, the
connection between the injury and the defendant’s actions. A
plaintiff need not know that she has a legal cause of action; she
need know only the facts that would ultimately support a claim.
Actual knowledge is not required if the circumstances would
lead a reasonable person to investigate further.
Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 576 (5th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted); see also Walker v. Epps, 550 F.3d 407, 414 (5th Cir.
2008) (citing Piotrowski).
Craig filed this lawsuit in October 2016. His claims are premised on the
inadequacies of his criminal conviction, including Taylor’s actions as his defense
counsel at his 2011 trial. Craig specifically represents the date of May 11, 2011, for
Taylor’s purported conduct causing his injury. Compl.  at 5 (CM/ECF
pagination); Am. Compl.  at 3 (same). Craig’s claims accrued more than three
years prior to Craig filing the present action in October 2016, and are therefore
Heck v. Humphrey
Craig’s claims regarding the validity of his criminal conviction are also
subject to dismissal under Heck v. Humphrey. See 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Under
Heck, where a claim for damages would “necessarily imply” the invalidity of a
conviction, such a claim is not cognizable unless and until the plaintiff obtains a
favorable resolution of a challenge to his conviction. Id. at 487.
If the Court were to find in Craig’s favor and determine that his criminal
conviction is unconstitutional, it would necessarily imply the invalidity of his
current term of imprisonment. Craig fails to demonstrate that his criminal
conviction has been invalidated by any of the means set forth in Heck.2 Therefore,
Craig’s claims that necessarily imply the invalidity of his imprisonment are barred
by Heck. Id., see also Amaker v. Weiner, 179 F.3d 48, 51 (2d Cir. 1999) (holding
Heck also applies to claims under §§ 1981, 1985, and 1986).
To the extent Craig now seeks injunctive relief invalidating his conviction
and releasing him from incarceration, he must pursue such relief through a petition
for writ of habeas corpus. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). As
footnoted above, Craig is currently litigating a habeas corpus case in this Court.
Any habeas claims Craig may be asserting in this civil action are dismissed without
prejudice to Craig’s pursuit of these claims in his pending habeas corpus case.
Having considered the pleadings and applicable law, the Court dismisses this
civil action as frivolous. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). As noted, Craig’s claims
are barred by the statute of limitations and violate Heck. See Bates v. Price, 368 F.
App’x 594, 595 (5th Cir. 2010) (finding prisoner case barred by statute of limitations
and dismissed as frivolous counts as a “strike” under § 1915(g)); Hamilton v. Lyons,
Craig is currently litigating a habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
in this Court. See Craig v. MDOC, cause no. 1:16-cv-371-LG-FKB (S.D. Miss.).
74 F.3d 99, 103 (5th Cir. 1996) (finding Heck-barred claims are legally frivolous).
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this case is
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915
(e)(2)(B)(i). This dismissal will count as a “strike” in accordance with the Prison
Litigation Reform Act. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that any habeas corpus
claims asserted in this civil action are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE to
Plaintiff’s pursuit of these claims in his pending habeas corpus case, Craig v.
MDOC, no. 1:16-cv-371-LG-FKB (S.D. Miss.).
A separate final judgment will be entered in accordance with Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 58.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 23rd day of January, 2017.
Louis Guirola, Jr.
LOUIS GUIROLA, JR.
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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