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Stiller v. Bouzek

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

July 19, 2018

MARK ANTHONY STILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
JANA BOUZEK, MAC SETTER, SHARON WESTERGREEN, MELISSA STONE, and MIKE JOHNSTON, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING ACTION AND DENYING MOTIONS

          Stanley A. Bastian United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, a prisoner at the Airway Heights Corrections Center, brings this pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By separate Order the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff seeks his release from incarceration, claiming that, approximately eight years ago, police officers compelled him through coercion to write a statement; a prosecutor engaged in misconduct by referencing that statement in closing arguments; and his public defender provided ineffective assistance by failing to assert his incompetency to stand trial.

         PRISON LITIGATION REFORM ACT

         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 a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1), (2), 1915(e)(2); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194-95 (9th Cir. 1998).

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1138-39 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130-31; Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         The facts alleged in a complaint are to be taken as true and must “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Mere legal conclusions “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. The complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). It must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. On the basis of these standards, Plaintiff's present allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         STATUE OF LIMITATIONS

         The applicable statute of limitations for Section 1983 claims under Washington law is three years. See RK Ventures, Inc. v. City of Seattle, 307 F.3d 1045, 1058 (9th Cir. 2002); Millay v. Cam, 135 Wash.2d 193, 206 (1998) (requiring “bad faith, deception, or false assurances by the defendant and the exercise of diligence by the plaintiff, ” for equitable tolling to apply). Plaintiff has presented no basis for equitable tolling. Therefore, his allegations against named Defendants which occurred more than three years prior to May 30, 2018, the date he submitted his complaint to this Court, ECF No. 1, are time-barred.

         HECK V. HUMPHREY

         Plaintiff states specifically that he is not challenging the conditions of his confinement. ECF No. 1 at 11. Rather, he asks this Court to vacate an allegedly wrongful conviction. Id.

         If a state prisoner challenges the fact or duration of his confinement, or seeks a determination that he is entitled to release or a shortening of his period of confinement, his only federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus, with its requirement of exhaustion of state remedies. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994); Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-90 (1973). A Section 1983 claim is not the appropriate vehicle for a prisoner to challenge his underlying state conviction and sentence by seeking injunctive relief. Preiser, 411 U.S. at 489 (“[A] state prisoner challenging his underlying conviction and sentence on federal constitutional grounds in a federal court is limited to habeas corpus . . . he cannot bring a § 1983 action, even though the literal terms of § 1983 might seem to cover such a challenge”). Therefore, Plaintiff is not entitled to the relief he in this § 1983 action.

         VENUE

         None of the named Defendants is located in the Eastern District of Washington and none of the events giving rise to Plaintiffs claims occurred in this district. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Therefore, venue is not proper in the Eastern District of Washington.

         Venue may be raised by the Court sua sponte. Costlow v. Weeks,790 F.2d 1486, 1488 (9th Cir. 1986). When venue is improper, a district court has the discretion to either dismiss the case or transfer it ...


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