Owens v. Wilson et al
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION. This Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.(ECF No. 14 ). Thus, this action is dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.IT IS SO ORDERED. Signed by Honorable Joseph F Anderson, Jr on 09/14/2017. (dsto, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Jerome A. Owens, #299108,
a/k/a Jerome Owens,
C/A No.: 5:17-cv-00764-JFA
Alan Wilson, South Carolina Attorney
General, and State of South Carolina,
The pro se Plaintiff, Jerome A. Owens, is an inmate at the Allendale Correctional
Institution. He brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending that Defendants violated his
After reviewing the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge assigned to this action 1 prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) sua sponte and opined that this case should be
dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. (ECF No. 14). The
Report sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and standards of law on this matter, and this Court
The Magistrate Judge’s review is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.). The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this
Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final
determination remains with this Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 271 (1976). The Court
is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter
to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
incorporates those facts and standards without a recitation. Plaintiff filed objections to the Report
on May 15, 2017. (ECF No. 17). Thus, this matter is ripe for review.
The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report
to which specific objections are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge
with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, a district court is only required to conduct
a de novo review of the specific portions of the Magistrate Judge’s Report to which an objection
is made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. &
Parole, 974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific objections to portions of the
Report of the Magistrate, this Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
Plaintiff Owens argues that his prior convictions in Florida, which enhanced his sentence,
should not have been considered in calculating the sentence he is currently serving. (ECF No. 17
p. 3). Plaintiff lists his sentence enhancement as an injury, and he seeks to negate or lessen the
sentence. (ECF No. 17 p. 2). The Supreme Court of the United States, however, has held that
“[h]abeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration
of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may come
within the literal terms of § 1983.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994) (citing Preiser
v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 488-90 (1973)).
In Heck, the issue before the Court was whether a state prisoner could challenge the
constitutionality of his conviction in a suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. at 478. The
Court noted that “the dismissal of [plaintiff’s] §1983 action was correct because [the] courts below
found that his damages claims challenged the legality of his conviction.” Id. at 477-88, 489-90.
The Court further noted that a damages claim related to a sentence that has not been invalidated is
not cognizable under §1983. Id. at 487.
Here, Plaintiff alleges that his sentence is unconstitutionally lengthy, and he is seeking
damages in the form of equitable relief.2 Plaintiff asks this Court for a “declaration of the Federal
Law,” alleging that he was “deprived Due Process of a Federal Statutory Law.” (ECF No. 4 p. 9).
Plaintiff also contends that “[t]he facts of Heck authority and the case law does not have any
bearing on the facts or question before the court in the Magistrates [sic] report and
recommendation.” (ECF No. 17 p. 3). Plaintiff further states that Heck “only hints at the answer
to the current issue before this Court in dicta and therefore does not constitute directly applicable
precedent.” (ECF No. 17 p. 6).
Plaintiff Owens is mistaken. Heck is directly applicable to the present case because Owens
is contesting his sentence and the enhancement thereof. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. The Magistrate
Judge thus correctly opined that, under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Heck, Owens’ claim for
damages and release from custody is barred, unless he can demonstrate that the conviction or
sentence has been successfully challenged, because the success of his action would implicitly
question the validity of his conviction or duration of his sentence. See id. Moreover, as Owens
has not demonstrated that his conviction has been reversed, expunged, or declared invalid by a
state court, and no federal writ has been issued, his action must be dismissed for failure to state a
claim, and his request for damages under §1983 is barred. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 477-78 (“[T]he
dismissal of [plaintiff’s] §1983 action was correct because [the] courts below found that his
Plaintiff is seeking to “have the [l]aw [d]eclared only and . . . does not attempt to seek any
monetary relief.” (ECF No. 17 p. 2).
damages claims challenged the legality of his conviction.”). As the Magistrate Judge correctly
stated, “[t]o the extent Plaintiff is challenging his conviction, a writ of habeas corpus is his
exclusive remedy.” (ECF No. 14 p. 4); see Heck, at 477-78.
Therefore, after carefully reviewing the applicable laws, the record in this case, the Report,
and the objection thereto, this Court finds the Magistrate Judge’s Report fairly and accurately
summarizes the facts and applies the correct principles of law. The Report is incorporated herein
by reference. Accordingly, this Court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation.
(ECF No. 14). Thus, this action is dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service
IT IS SO ORDERED.
September 14, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina
Joseph F. Anderson, Jr.
United States District Judge
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