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Le'Taxione v. Babcock

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

May 3, 2019

LE'TAXIONE, formerly known as Ernest Carter, Plaintiff,
CHRISTOPHER BABCOCK, et al., Defendants.


          J. Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Le'Taxione, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that defendants, who are Department of Corrections (“DOC”) staff or employees of agencies that contract with the DOC to provide chemical dependency treatment services, conspired to falsify chemical dependency evaluation reports and to make false allegations against plaintiff. He claims that this led to his termination from a chemical dependency program, rescission of his conditionally commuted sentence, and re-imposition of his life without parole sentence.

         Because plaintiff's claims go the validity of his confinement, they are not cognizable § 1983 claims. Thus, plaintiff must amend his complaint by May 31, 2019, or this Court will recommend dismissal of this matter without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.


         Plaintiff, who is currently housed at Olympic Corrections Center, filed his complaint under § 1983 on April 4, 2019. See Dkt. 1. Plaintiff alleges that sixteen individuals-employees of American Behavioral Health Services, the DOC's Substance Abuse Recovery Unit, Airway Heights Corrections Center, and various other DOC officials-conspired to retaliate against him in a series of events that began with a chemical dependency evaluation for his conditionally commuted sentence. See Dkt. 1, at 2-5.

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants falsified the result of his chemical dependency evaluation, made false allegations about him, conspired to have him removed from a chemical dependency program, falsified a discharge summary, and retaliated against him for filing complaints and grievances-all actions that were allegedly intended to cause his conditionally commuted sentence to be rescinded. See Dkt. 1, at 5-6, 10. As a result, he alleges that the sentence was rescinded and that his life-without-parole sentence was reinstated. See Dkt. 1, at 7, 10. He requests $6.2 million in damages and an injunction preventing further DOC fraud and retaliation and rescinding his “DOC violation.” See Dkt. 1, at 12.


         I. Legal Principles

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”) requires this Court 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); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (“Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid . . .”). The Court shall “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         II. Analysis

         Plaintiff essentially alleges that various officials-motivated by racism and/or retaliation-conspired together in order to have his commuted sentence rescinded.

         A claim for damages that “call[s] into question the lawfulness of conviction or confinement” is not cognizable under § 1983. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 483 (1994). Rather, “in order to recover damages for 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 determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.” Id. at 486-87. Similarly, “when a state prisoner is challenging the very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a speedier release from imprisonment, his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.” Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973).

         Because plaintiff contends that the alleged First and Fourteenth Amendment violations caused the revocation of his conditionally commuted sentence and the reinstatement of his life-without-parole sentence and because there is no indication that that revocation has been invalidated, plaintiff's claim for damages is not cognizable. Moreover, plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief-requesting rescission of the violation-also fails because such a request for a speedier release from imprisonment is not a cognizable § 1983 claim under Preiser.

         Plaintiff also appears to request an injunction to “stop WA State DOC from retaliating” and “filing false reports” and chemical dependency evaluation scores against him. See Dkt. 1, at 5, 12. But plaintiff also alleges that he has been transferred to another institution and that he is no longer participating in the conditional commutation of his sentence and is instead serving his reinstated life-without-parole sentence. See Dkt. 1, at 5, 12. To the extent that plaintiff requests injunctive relief other than reinstating his conditionally commuted sentence, plaintiff's request for injunctive relief appears to be moot because he has been transferred to another institution and no longer appears to be participating in treatment. See Williams v. ...

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