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Willis v. Kiser

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

August 7, 2017

DARREL PATRICK WILLIS, Plaintiff,
v.
NICK KISER, Defendant.

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR AMEND

          J. RICHARD CREATURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Order Plaintiff Darrel Patrick Willis, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Plaintiff alleges he was unlawfully jailed three separate times for violations of his community custody, even though he had allegedly completed his community custody sentence. Dkt. 5. He filed this suit, claiming monetary damages for losses he incurred while jailed. However, his claim, if found in plaintiff's favor, would necessarily invalidate a sentence not yet shown to be unlawful, which would not be the proper subject of a 1983 complaint. Further, though he cites to the First Amendment, plaintiff has not pled a legitimate constitutional violation. Having reviewed and screened plaintiff's Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court declines to serve the Complaint, but provides plaintiff leave to file an amended pleading by September 1, 2017, to cure the deficiencies identified below.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff claims he was sentenced to one year of community custody in August 2014. Dkt. 5 at 3. He states that he finished that sentence on August 29, 2015. Id. He claims that, despite this, defendant Nick Kiser arrested him for violation of his community custody in September 2015. Id. After a full hearing, he was sentenced to 25-30 days incarceration. Id. He claims that the Department of Corrections altered his sentence without informing him, and that because of this incarceration, he lost his apartment, his security deposit, and all his possessions. Id. He further alleges that he was arrested and jailed twice more, in November 2015 and May 2016. Id. After his third alleged violation, plaintiff was transferred to Grays Harbor County Jail on a warrant for an offense stemming from his first arrest in 2015. Id. He asks the Court to grant him monetary damages calculated according to his actual losses and to the number of days he was allegedly unlawfully detained. Id. at 4.

         DISCUSSION

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint: (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. at (b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193 (9th Cir. 1998).

         In order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show: (1) he suffered a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, and (2) the violation was proximately caused by a person acting under color of state law. See Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). The first step in a § 1983 claim is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). To satisfy the second prong, a plaintiff must allege facts showing how individually named defendants caused, or personally participated in causing, the harm alleged in the complaint. See Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981).

         Plaintiff's Complaint suffers from deficiencies requiring dismissal if not corrected in an amended complaint.

         I. Challenge to Lawfulness of Incarceration - Heck Bar

         Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated when, after full hearings, he was wrongfully imprisoned three times for violating his community custody even though he had completed his community custody sentence. However, a civil rights complaint under § 1983 cannot proceed when “a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). The § 1983 action “is barred (absent prior invalidation) --no matter the relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of the prisoner's suit (state conduct leading to conviction or internal prison proceedings) -- if success in that action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005). To obtain federal judicial review of a state conviction or sentence, a party must file a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and must first exhaust his state judicial remedies. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973).

         Here, a finding in favor of plaintiff's 1983 claims would necessarily invalidate his arrest and imprisonment. Thus, plaintiff is calling into question his convictions for violations of community custody and his confinements as a result of those convictions. The wrong he describes is jail time for violating his community custody even though he had completed his community custody sentence. Dkt. 5 at 3. He requests monetary damages calculated to recoup money and possessions lost during his confinement. Id. at 4. To find in plaintiff's favor would be a finding that his incarceration was unlawful. A federal 1983 action cannot be heard if it would necessarily invalidate a conviction or sentence. Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. Before plaintiff can recover in a 1983 action for damages caused by an unlawful incarceration, he must first demonstrate the incarceration was unlawful by exhausting his state remedies and filing a petition for habeas corpus. Preiser, 411 U.S. at 500.

         II. First Amendment Claim

         As noted above, plaintiff is calling into question his convictions for violations of his community custody. However, plaintiff alleges that his unlawful incarceration was a violation of his First Amendment rights. Dkt. 5 at 4. He does not explain how his First Amendments rights were ...


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