Diaz v. Abbott et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION entered. Diaz's suit is dismissed without prejudice to reasserting the claims if the Heck conditions are met. Diaz's motions to proceed without prepayment of filing fees, (Docket Entries Nos. 2, 3, & 5), are GRANTED. His claims are DISMISSED as frivolous. Any remaining pending motions are DENIED AS MOOT. (Signed by Chief Judge Lee H Rosenthal) Parties notified. (wbostic, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SAMUEL MEDRANO DIAZ,
GREG ABBOTT, eta!.,
January 27, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. H-17-0141
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
Samuel Medrano Diaz, an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice- Correctional
Institutions Division, sued in January 2017, alleging an illegal conviction and sentence. Diaz,
representing himself and without prepaying the filing fee, sues Greg Abbott, Governor of the State
of Texas; Lorie Davis, Director of the TDCJ; Devon Anderson, Harris County District Attorney;
Blanca Lopez, appellate counsel; and Candelario Elizondo, trial counsel. A careful review ofDiaz' s
allegations show that they lack merit as a matter of law and that this case cannot proceed.
Diaz's allegations arise from his conviction and life sentence for murder in Cause Number
714137. He alleges that Greg Abbott and Lorie Davis are illegally detaining him; that Lorie Davis
is refusing to execute a deportation order; that Devon Anderson sought the illegal life sentence; that
Blanca Lopez allowed the appellate court to affirm his conviction; and that Candelario Elizondo
rendered ineffective assistance and aided the prosecution. Diaz apparently alleges that Elizondo had
obtained an acquittal but allowed the prosecutor to charge Diaz under an alias. Diaz argues that "a
life sentence is a automatic appeal and the State's way of having a case back with in six months.
And the way to affirm a illegal conviction without actual trial on true bills." (Docket Entry No. 1,
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p. 4). Diaz claims that the defendants are conspiring to:
deprive one of his rights that all defendants co-conspirators participated in with the
State of Texas. And the director ofTDCJ accepts the bodies with life sentences an
interalia state given names to hold one until these illegal convictions are affirmed
without actual trial by jury or a new sentencing trials by judges.
(Docket Entry No. 1, p. 4). Diaz states that trial counsel advised him to enter a guilty plea and that
he would receive a reduced sentence if he did, but instead he received a life sentence. Diaz asks
for a new trial, release, and deportation. He seeks damages for his incarceration.
A district court must dismiss a prisoner's § 1983 complaint if the action is frivolous, fails to
state a claim, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Under§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), the court may dismiss a complaint filed without prepaying costs when it
lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Hutchins v. McDaniels, 512 F.3d 193, 195 (5th Cir. 2007)
(citing Black v. Warren, 134 F.3d 732, 734 (5th Cir. 1998)). "A complaint lacks an arguable basis
in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint alleges the
violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist." Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th
Cir. 1998) (quoting McCormick v. Stalder, 105 F.3d 1059, 1061 (5th Cir. 1997)).
Diaz alleges that he was illegally convicted of murder and illegally sentenced to life. A court
must dismiss a civil rights complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when the complaint, if
successful, would necessarily imply the invalidity of the plaintiffs conviction or sentence, unless
the plaintiff demonstrates that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal,
expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a
determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2254. Heckv. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,486-87 (1994). A ruling by this court granting
Diaz the reliefDiaz seeks-a new trial, release, and deportation-would necessarily undermine the
validity of his 1996 conviction for murder in Cause Number 71413 7 and the resulting life sentence.
Under Heck, Diaz must demonstrate that his conviction and sentence have been reversed,
invalidated, or expunged before he can challenge it under§ 1983. Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. Until
Diaz receives a ruling declaring his sentence invalid, he cannot pursue his claim for relief. !d. at
488-89; Randell v. Johnson, 227 F.3d 300, 301 (5th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 1601 (2001)
("Because [plaintiff] is seeking damages pursuant to § 1983 for unconstitutional imprisonment and
he has not satisfied the favorable termination requirement of Heck, he is barred from any recovery .
. . ."). Diaz has not alleged that his conviction in Cause Number 714137 has been reversed,
invalidated, or otherwise expunged. Diaz states, and court records confirm, that he filed a federal
petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Civil Action Number 4:02-2162, challenging the same state
court case. The federal court denied the petition on October 22, 2002. Diaz filed a second federal
petition, Civil Action Number 4:14-13 88, which the federal court dismissed as a successive petition
on May 30, 2014. Diaz's claims challenging his conviction for murder are legally frivolous under
sections 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Hamilton v. Lyons, 74 F.3d 99, 102-103 (5th Cir. 1996) ("A
§ 1983 claim which falls under the rule in Heck is legally frivolous unless the conviction or sentence
at issue has been reversed, expunged, invalidated, or otherwise called into question.").
Diaz' s suit is dismissed without prejudice to reasserting the claims if the Heck conditions are
met. SeeClarkev. Stalder, 154F.3d 186,191 (5thCir.1998);Johnsonv. McElveen, 101 F.3d423,
424 (5th Cir. 1996). Diaz's motions to proceed without prepayment of filing fees, (Docket Entries
Nos. 2, 3, & 5), are granted. His claims are dismissed as frivolous. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
Any remaining pending motions are denied as moot. The TDCJ-CID must deduct twenty percent
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of each deposit made to Diaz's inmate trust account and forward payments to the court on a regular
basis, provided the account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee obligation of$350.00 is paid in full.
The Clerk will provide a copy of this order by regular mail, facsimile transmission, or e-mail
the TDCJ- Office ofthe General Counsel, Capitol Station, P.O. Box 13084, Austin,
Texas, 78711, Fax: 512-936-2159;
the Inmate Trust Fund, P.O. Box 629, Huntsville, Texas 77342-0629, Fax:
the District Clerk for the Eastern District of Texas, Attention: Manager of the
Three-Strikes List, Lori_stover@txed.uscourts.gov.
SIGNED on January 26,2017, at Houston, Texas.
Lee H. Rosenthal
Chief United States District Judge
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