Braden v. Hicks et al
MEMORANDUM ON DISMISSAL entered. The action filed by Travien Braden (SPN #02224269) is premature. The Clerk must stay and close this case for administrative purposes until further notice. Braden must file a "Motion to Reinstate" this case, if appropriate, within thirty days from the date that the state criminal case is completed. (Signed by Judge Vanessa D Gilmore) Parties notified. (wbostic, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
TRA VIEN BRADEN,
October 06, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
TROY HICKS, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION H-17-2880
MEMORANDUM ON DISMISSAL
Travien Braden, an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional
Institutions Division, sued in September 2017, alleging civil rights violations resulting from a denial
of due process. Braden, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, sues Troy Hicks, DPS Agent;
Wyteka Wilson, Budget Pharmacy Clerk; and (FNU) Matt, Assistant District Attorney for Harris
The threshold issue is whether Braden's claims should be dismissed as frivolous.
Braden asserts that Defendant Wilson gave false information to the police. Braden maintains
that he never gave Defendant Wilson any form of identification. Braden asserts that Defendant
Wilson lied under oath.
Defendant Hicks coerced Wyteka Wilson into identifying Braden from a photo array. Based
on this false identification, Hicks wrote a false police report. Braden complains that he was never
placed in a live line-up or notified of the investigation that lasted for one and one-half months.
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Braden further complains that the prosecutor, Defendant Matt, improperly sought to include an
enhancement paragraph in the indictment. Defendant Matt also took 62 days to review the probable
Braden asks that the criminal charges against him be dismissed due to a lack of evidence.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, federal courts are authorized to review, before docketing, if
feasible, or in any event as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which
a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint,
if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. See Denton v. Hernandez,
504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Richardson v. Spurlock, 260 F.3d 495, 498 (5th Cir. 2001)(citing Siglar v.
Hightower, 112 F.3d 191, 193 (5th Cir. 1997)). "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 McCormickv. Stalder, 105 F.3d 1059, 1061 (5th Cir. 1997)).
[To recover damages for an allegedly] unconstitutional conviction or
imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a§ 1983
plaintiff must prove 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 determinations, or called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus
[under] 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
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Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,486-87 (1994). A claim for damages that bears a relationship to
a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
ld. If a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would "necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction
or sentence," then the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the
conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. ld.
Although the Supreme Court's decision in Heck concerned a civil action for monetary
damages, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has also applied Heck in cases in
which the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief. Clarke v. Stalder, 154 F.3d 186, 189 (5th Cir. 1998) (en
bane) (citing Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997)).
Braden has been charged in this court with obtaining drugs by fraud in Cause Numbers
1555489 & 1555488. Braden's allegations of an illegal identification and fabricated evidence,
would, if true, necessarily implicate the validity of these charges and any potential convictions. See
Hudson v. Hughes, 98 F.3d 868, 872-73 (5th Cir. 1996) (holding that allegations of excessive force
and false arrest are not cognizable under the doctrine in Heck if a successful civil rights claim would
call into question the validity ofthe plaintiffs conviction); see also Sappington v. Bartee, 195 F.3d
234 (5th Cir. 1999) (holding that Heck bars a civil rights claim for excessive force and false arrest
where the plaintiffhas been convicted of assaulting an officer). Several circuits have held that Heck
bars "damage claims which, if successful, would necessarily imply the invalidity of a potential
conviction on a pending criminal charge." Snodderly v. R. U F. F. Drug Enforcement TaskForce, 23 9
F.3d 892, 898 n.8 (7th Cir. 2001); Smith v. Holtz, 87 F.3d 108, 110 (3rd Cir. 1996) (holding that a
claim challenging the validity of a future conviction raises the same concerns as a claim challenging
the legality of a conviction and, as a result, "does not accrue so long as the potential for a judgment
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in the pending criminal prosecution continues to exist."). 1 In considering this issue, the Fifth Circuit
The record does not clearly reflect that a successful attack on
Mackey's arrests will implicate the validity of his confinement. It is
not clear whether or not Mackey has been tried or convicted. When
his suit was filed, it appears that he was confined pursuant to the
March 21 indictment, the validity of which would not necessarily be
implicated by any illegality in earlier arrests. If Mackey is tried and
convicted and in his contested criminal case no evidence is presented
resulting directly or indirectly from any of his arrests, it is difficult to
see how any illegality in any of his arrests could be inconsistent with
his conviction. On the other hand, if he is convicted and evidence is
presented by the prosecution at his criminal trial which is a direct or
indirect product of one or more of his arrests, then his section 1983
damage claims challenging the validity of his arrests would appear to
undermine the validity of his conviction and hence be barred by Heck.
Of course, in any event any equitable relief in the nature of release
from confinement would be barred by Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475, 93 S. Ct. 1827,36 L. Ed. 2d 439 (1973).
At this point it is simply premature to determine whether or not
Mackey's damage claims are barred under Heck. Accordingly, the
district court erred in dismissing the claims on the basis of Heck. The
court may--indeed should--stay proceedings in the section 1983 case
until the pending criminal case has run its course, as until that time it
may be difficult to determine the relation, if any, between the two.
Mackey v. Dickson, 47 F.3d 744, 746 (5th Cir. 1995).
In Brown v. Taylor, 139 F. App'x 613,2005 WL 1691376 (5th Cir. 2005), the Fifth Circuit
stated, in an unpublished opinion, that to the extent that Brown's allegations concerned pending
criminal charges, the district court's dismissal of his civil-rights complaint under Heck was
erroneous. Where it remained unclear whether Brown had been tried or convicted on those charges,
Other circuit courts have relied on Smith in extending Heck to pre-conviction criminal charges. See
Shamaeizadeh v. Cunigan, 182 F.3d 391, 397 (6th Cir. 1999); Covington v. N Y.C., 171 F.3d 117, 124 (2nd
Cir. 1999); Washington v. Summerville, 127 F.3d 552, 555 (7th Cir. 1997).
the Fifth Circuit stated that the district court should have stayed the instant action until the pending
criminal case against Brown had run its course. !d. (citing Mackey v. Dickson, 47 F.3d 744,746 (5th
Cir. 1995)). 2
The Supreme Court has explained that if a plaintiff files a false arrest claim before he has
been convicted (or files any other claim related to rulings that will likely be made in a pending or
anticipated criminal trial), it is within the power of the district court, and in accord with common
practice, to stay the civil action until the criminal case or the likelihood of a criminal case is ended.
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94 (2007). If the plaintiff is ultimately convicted, and if the
stayed civil suit would impugn that conviction, Heck will require dismissal; otherwise, the civil
action will proceed, absent some other bar to suit. Wallace, 549 U.S. at 394 (citing Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641,649 (1997)); Heck, 512 U.S. at 487.
Because court records reflect that Braden's criminal case remains pending, the court must
stay and close this civil case until his state criminal proceedings are completed.
The action filed by Travien Braden (SPN #02224269) is premature. The Clerk must stay and
close this case for administrative purposes until further notice. Braden must file a "Motion to
See also Busick v. City ofMadison, Miss., 90 F. App'x 713, 713-714 (5th Cir. 2004) (where it is
impossible to determine whether a plaintiffs civil claims relating to his arrest and criminal prosecution
necessarily implicate the validity of any conviction or sentence that plaintiff has received or might receive
because of ongoing criminal proceedings, the district court should have stayed the civil proceedings pending
the resolution of the criminal charges against plaintiff).
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Reinstate" this case, if appropriate, within thirty days from the date that the state criminal case is
SIGNED at Houston, Texas, on
VANESSA D. GILMORE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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