United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
December 21, 2005.
Curtis Richardson, Plaintiff,
Warden Frank Shaw, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD BAKER, District Judge
The plaintiff filed an in forma pauperis petition, alongwith
his complaint on October 5, 2005. He brings his lawsuit pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. He names as defendants, Frank Shaw,
warden of operations at Hill Correctional Center (hereinafter
HCC); Major Nott, chief of security at HCC; Lyle Hawkinson,
grievance officer at HCC; Cornealious Sanders, correctional
officer at HCC; and Regina Hodge, correctional officer at HCC.
In the court's October 5, 2005 order, the plaintiff was advised
that his complaint is subject to the screening required by
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Pursuant to this statute, the court must
dismiss a complaint or any claim within a complaint which "(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.
Allegations and Review of Plaintiff's Complaint
The court has reviewed the plaintiff's complaint. He claims he
exhausted administrative remedies. Further, the plaintiff alleges
that on February 4, 2005, Defendant Hodge issued a disciplinary
report against the plaintiff for sexual misconduct, disobeying an
order and intimidation/threats. The plaintiff was found guilty.
He received punishment which included revocation of three months
of good conduct credit.
The plaintiff claims the Adjustment Committee hearing "was not
conducted in good faith, impartiality, prejudice and conflict of
interest existed." Defendant Nott was chairman on the committee
at the time of the hearing and he failed to sign off on the final
summary report on February 16, 2005. Instead, he allowed Lt.
Michael Chapin to forge his signature on the report "knowing he
was present during the hearing." The plaintiff claims that Deft
Sanders told the plaintiff that "in deed an error was made on
2-9-05 of the hearing when he was the sitting committee member
and further stated plaintiff should just do the segregation time
because I will not win the grievance." The plaintiff wrote an
emergence grievance to Warden Shaw regarding "the staff abusing
their authority and misconduct disciplinary, unreasonable
seizure, false charges and improper hearing." The plaintiff
claims Shaw "never responded or probed the issue and signed off
on the final summary report, concurring with the decision of the
committee." On February 19, 2005, the plaintiff wrote and
forwarded a grievance to defendant Hawkinson "concerning allegations in grievance written on 2-19-05 and
3-27-05 for same." Defendant Hawkinson advised the plaintiff that
it is up to the chief administrative officer (warden) to process
grievances. The plaintiff claims that Shaw and Hawkinson
knowingly, willingingly and intentionally delayed, denied and
interfered and infringed the plaintiff's due process when they
failed to review and respond to his grievance in a timely manner.
On March 30, 2005, the plaintiff was transferred from Western
Illinois Correctional Center. The plaintiff makes similar
allegations against the various defendants.
Further, the plaintiff claims that the Administrative Review
Board did not respond to the plaintiff's grievance until August
24, 2005, six months after the incident. A review of the
plaintiff's Exhibit B, attached to his complaint, is an August
31, 2005 ARB review response*fn1 wherein the ARB advised the
plaintiff that his grievance was being returned because the ARB
required that the plaintiff use the "Committed Person's Grievance
Report" form. This letter apparently was in response to the
plaintiff's April 6, 2005 and April 7, 2005 letters to the ARB.
There is nothing in the record before this court that indicates
the plaintiff's good conduct credits were restored. The plaintiff
requests relief in the amount of $75,000 compensatory damages and
any other relief the court deems appropriate.
"[A] § 1983 action is a proper remedy for a state prisoner who
is making a constitutional challenge to the conditions of his
prison life, but not to the fact or length of his custody."
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973). Prisoners
"challeng[ing] the fact or duration of their confinement and
seek[ing] immediate or speedier release" (such as the restoration
of good time credits) must pursue their challenge under the
federal habeas statute, not § 1983. DeWalt v. Carter,
224 F.3d 607, 614 (7th Cir. 2000), citing Preiser,
411 U.S. at 489-90. Additionally, a suit for damages under § 1983 that
challenges an underlying conviction or sentence, or challenges
"actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence
invalid," does not accrue until that conviction or sentence has
been invalidated.*fn2 Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,
484-487 (1994). In Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997), the
Supreme Court extended this ruling to include § 1983 suits for
damages "challenging the loss of good time credits in prison
disciplinary actions (when the fact or duration of confinement
was implicated)" even if the plaintiff did not seek a restoration
of good time. DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 615 (7th Cir.
1999), citing Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. at 648. Therefore,
claims that "necessarily impl[y] the invalidity of the punishment
imposed (i.e., loss of good time credits) . . . [are] not
cognizable under § 1983" until the prison disciplinary decision
has been invalidated. Id. The nature of the claim governs whether the validity of the
underlying sanctions are implicated. For example, procedural due
process challenges based on the refusal to call exonerating
witnesses, or impartiality of the tribunal does implicate the
validity of the sanctions. Edwards v. Balisok,
520 U.S. at 646-47; Lusz v. Scott, 126 F.3d 1018, 1022 (7th Cir. 1997).
Here, the plaintiff seeks damages for his claim which
necessarily implies the invalidity of the disciplinary decision
revoking his good time. Illinois inmates challenging disciplinary
hearings may seek mandamus relief or judicial review of prison
disciplinary proceedings through a writ of certiorari. See,
e.g., 735 ILCS 5/14-101 et seq.; Scotti v. Taylor,
351 Ill.App.3d 884 (4th Dist. 2004) (due process challenge to
prison disciplinary proceeding brought as mandamus petitions);
Armstrong v. Snyder, 783 N.E. 2d 1101, 1103 (Ill.App. 2003)
("Mandamus is an appropriate remedy to compel DOC to conduct
disciplinary hearings consistent with due process.); Reyes v.
Walker, 358 Ill.App.3d 1122, 1125 (4th Dist. 2005) ("We have
held that a common-law writ of certiorari is the proper method
for obtaining review of DOC disciplinary proceedings."); Alicea
v. Snyder, 748 N.E.2d 285, 289 (Ill.App.Ct. 4th Dist.
2001) (writ of certiorari action is the proper method to
challenge prison disciplinary proceedings); Thompson v. Lane,
551 N.E.2d 731 (Ill.App.Ct. 4th Dist. 1990) (writ of
madamus challenging due process violation in disciplinary
hearing). The plaintiff must invoke one complete round of the
normal appellate process, which includes seeking discretionary
review before the Illinois Supreme Court. O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845-48 (1999).
Based on the foregoing, it is ordered:
1. As the plaintiff has a negative trust fund balance, his
motion for reconsideration of the prepayment order is granted,
d/e 15. The plaintiff's requirement to pay an initial partial
filing fee is waived. The plaintiff's second motion for
reconsideration of the prepayment order is rendered moot, d/e 16.
2. The plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis, d/e
1, is granted.
3. The plaintiff's complaint is dismissed because it is barred
by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). All pending motions
are denied as moot, and this case is terminated in its entirety.
4. The agency having custody of the plaintiff shall make
monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income
credited to the plaintiff's account. The agency must forward
payments from the plaintiff's trust fund account to the clerk of
Court each time the plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00 until the
statutory filing fee is paid in its entirety. The filing fee
collected shall not exceed the statutory filing fee of $250.00;
5. The clerk is directed to mail a copy of this order to the
plaintiff's place of confinement, to the attention of the trust
6. Release from incarceration does not relieve the plaintiff's
obligation to pay the filing fee in full. The plaintiff must
notify the clerk of the court of a change of address and phone
number within seven days of such change.
7. If the plaintiff wishes to appeal this dismissal, he may
file a notice of appeal with this court within 30 days of the
entry of judgment. Fed.R.App.P. 4(a). A motion for leave to
appeal in forma pauperis should set forth the issues the
plaintiff plans to present on appeal. See Fed.R.App.P.
24(a)(1)(C). If the plaintiff does choose to appeal, he will be liable for the $255.00 appellate filing fee irrespective of the
outcome of the appeal. Furthermore, if the appeal is found to be
non-meritorious, the plaintiff may also accumulate a strike under
28 U.S.C. 1915(g).
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