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Lee Moody v. Giddens

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

April 25, 2019

TROY JESSIE LEE MOODY, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN D. GIDDENS. et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH P. ELLISON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauper is, filed this section 1983 lawsuit against six prison officers. He seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief for alleged violations of his constitutional rights regarding a disciplinary conviction.

         Having screened the complaint pursuant to sections 1915 and 1915A, the Court DISMISSES this lawsuit for the reasons shown below.

         I. BACKGROUND AND CLAIMS

         Plaintiff challenges a prison disciplinary conviction he received at the Wynne Unit. He states that the disciplinary charges were initially dismissed on a technicality, but were re-filed the next day. Plaintiff was found guilty and punished with a reduction in line class and loss of privileges. His administrative appeals were denied.

         Plaintiff claims that the disciplinary conviction violated his constitutional rights and was retaliatory. He seeks a declaratory judgment and monetary damages. He further seeks permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the defendants from undertaking "illegal practices and proceedings, harassment, retaliation."

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standards

         Because plaintiff is a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, his complaint is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, his complaint is also subject to screening under section 1915(e)(2). Both sections 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b) provide for sua sponte dismissal of the complaint, or any portion thereof, if the Court finds that it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         Under section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), the Court may dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint as frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Hutchins v. McDaniels, 512 F.3d 193, 195 (5th Cir. 2007). A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory. Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir. 1998).

         B. Heck Bar

         Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and monetary damages for the allegedly unlawful disciplinary conviction and attendant violations of his constitutional rights. InHeckv. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the Supreme Court held that a claim that, in effect, attacks the constitutionality of a conviction or imprisonment is not cognizable under section 1983 and does not accrue until that conviction or sentence has been "reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus." Id., at 486-87. The bar applies whether the relief sought is compensatory, declaratory, or injunctive in nature. Reger v. Walker, 312 Fed.Appx. 624, 625 (5th Cir. 2009).

         The Supreme Court has extended Heck to prison disciplinary proceedings, concluding that claims for declaratory or injunctive relief or monetary damages that necessarily imply the invalidity of a disciplinary punishment are not cognizable in a section 1983 proceeding. Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 646-48 (1997). Plaintiffs allegations here as to the disciplinary proceedings, conviction, and related actions of the officers involved in the proceedings, if successful, would "necessarily imply the invalidity of the punishment imposed." Edwards, 520 U.S. at 648. Thus, his claims are not cognizable unless he has satisfied the conditions set forth by Heck. Plaintiffs pleadings show that his administrative challenges to the conviction were denied, and he does not state or show that the conviction has been successfully challenged through habeas proceedings or has otherwise been set aside. As a result, plaintiff does not meet the Heck requirements and his claims must be dismissed. See McGrew v. Tex. Bd. Of Pardons and Paroles, 47 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 1995).

         The claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE to their being asserted again until the Heck conditions are met. See Johnson v. ...


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