The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM STIEHL, Senior District Judge
Plaintiff, currently an inmate in the Tamms Correctional
Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional
rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff previously was
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and he has tendered
his initial partial filing fee as ordered.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:
(a) Screening. The court shall 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
(b) Grounds for Dismissal. On review, the court
shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks
an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319
, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the
complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise
its authority under § 1915A; this action is legally frivolous and
thus subject to summary dismissal.
Plaintiff alleges that in July 2002, he received a disciplinary
ticket for gang activity; the basis for this charge was a letter
Plaintiff wrote to his sister, which was intercepted in the mail
room. He was found guilty and punished with one year
across-the-board. He appealed, and the decision was reversed and
remanded. The ticket was subsequently rewritten to include more
specific information; a second hearing was held in February 2004
and, once again, Plaintiff was found guilty and punished with one
year across-the-board. Plaintiff alleges that all defendants
violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, as they
failed to call his requested witness; he also alleges that
Defendants did not have before them the specific letter at issue.
The instant case is a challenge to disciplinary proceedings
that resulted in the loss of good time credit as well as time in
When a state official violates the Constitution in
his treatment of a state prisoner, his illegal
conduct can, at least in theory, give rise to claims
for monetary or declaratory relief under § 1983 and
to claims for habeas corpus relief under § 2254.
Although these statutes provide distinct avenues for
relief, claims brought under § 1983 are not always
independent of claims that have been brought or could
be brought under § 2254. Proving official misconduct
for the purposes of § 1983 can often but not always
involve the same factual issues that would be
relevant in a potential claim under § 2254. This
intersection between claims under §§ 1983 and 2254
can sometimes implicate the fundamental principles
controlling federal jurisdiction generally, and
habeas corpus jurisdiction in particular. According
to these principles, the federal courts will not hear
a state prisoner's § 2254 claims against a state
official until the courts of that state have had the
opportunity to identify and remedy any official
misconduct. These principles of deference and
reticence that guide the federal courts similarly
prevent the district courts from considering any
issues that could be cognizable in a § 2254 claim
until the state prisoner has exhausted his state
court remedies. If claims under statutes besides §
2254 could be used as instruments to decide issues
that would be cognizable in a potential § 2254
action, the pursuit of such claims could promote the
evasion of the exhaustion requirement for § 2254.
Consequently, a prisoner cannot bring a § 1983 claim
that involves issues cognizable in habeas corpus
until he complies with the procedural prerequisites
for relief under § 2254. A decision on a § 1983 claim brought in this
posture would create situations in which a federal
court would make an initial, and perhaps a
preclusive, ruling on an issue that should first be
addressed by state courts.
But this limitation applies only if the preclusive
effect of a § 1983 judgment is certain. If resolution
of the issue in federal court would not necessarily
undermine the state court's ability to make an
independent determination of issues cognizable in
habeas corpus, then that issue is cognizable under §
1983, regardless of whether a state court has ruled
on that issue.
Clayton-EL v. Fisher, 96 F.3d 236, 242 (7th Cir. 1996),
citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 n. 7 (1994);
Simpson v. Rowan, 73 F.3d 134, 136 (7th Cir. 1995), cert.
denied, 519 U.S. 833 (1996); Viens v. Daniels, 871 F.2d 1328
1333-34 (7th Cir. 1989).
This determination [of which claims are cognizable
strictly under § 1983 and which raise issues
cognizable in habeas corpus] depends upon identifying
the injuries involved in each of [plaintiff's]
claims. As the Supreme Court has recently indicated,
the injury alleged in a claim and not the relief
sought in the claim determines whether a claim
implicates issues cognizable in habeas corpus. . . .
If the proof of any of those injuries involves the
proof of a fact that would also be essential to a
habeas corpus action, then the claim that depends
upon proof of that injury implicates habeas corpus.
Clayton-EL, 96 F.3d at 242 (citations omitted). See generally
Wilkinson v. Dotson, ___ U.S. ___, 125 S.Ct. 1242
, 1246-48 (2005).
In the instant case Plaintiff is challenging, primarily, the
failure to call witnesses that he claims he requested. Proof of
such a claim could invalidate the disciplinary proceeding, which
in turn would invalidate Plaintiff's punishment of the revocation
of one year of good time credit. The proper method for
challenging the revocation of good time credit is habeas corpus,
but only after Plaintiff has exhausted his remedies through the
Illinois state courts. See, e.g., Heck, 512 U.S. at 480-81. The
Illinois courts have recognized mandamus as an appropriate remedy
to compel prison officials to award sentence credit to a
prisoner. Taylor v. Franzen, 93 Ill.App.3d 758, 417 N.E.2d 242,
247, aff'd on reh'g, 420 N.E.2d 1203 (Ill.App. 1981). See also
United States ex rel. Isaac v. Franzen, 531 F. Supp. 1086, 1091-94 (N.D. Ill. 1982). The State
of Illinois must first be afforded an opportunity, in a mandamus
action pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/14-101 et seq. to consider the
merits of Plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff must exhaust his state
court remedies before bringing his claims to federal court.
In summary, Plaintiff's complaint does not survive review under
§ 1915A. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED without
prejudice to bringing his claims in a properly-filed habeas
corpus petition after he has exhausted his state court remedies.
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