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Smith v. Geatz

September 24, 2010

KENNETH SMITH, #B-32032, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD GEATZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

The Court denied Plaintiff Kenneth Smith's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed this action without prejudice, finding that Smith had accumulated at least three strikes and is not in imminent danger of serious physical injury. On reconsideration, the Court gave Smith the benefit of the doubt, as there was not conclusive proof that Smith was the plaintiff in one of the three cases deemed to be strikes. The case was reopened, and Smith's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis has been granted.

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 governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(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). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

On December 8, 2008, Smith received a disciplinarty ticket at Pinckneyville, charging him with conspiracy, escape, intimidation or threats, and dangerous communications; he was found guilty of all charges. In the interim, Smith was transferred to Menard. On January 13, 2009, Smith received a disciplinary ticket at Menard for escape, for which he was found guilty. Smith filed grievances challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against him, but those grievances were denied. Smith now claims that his rights to due process were violated in each of these proceedings.

DECEMBER 8 TICKET

According to the exhibits attached to the complaint, for this ticket Smith was punished with one year in segregation, one year at C-grade, one year's commissary restriction, and the loss of six months of good conduct credit.

The instant case is a challenge to disciplinary proceedings that resulted in the loss of good time credit as well as time in disciplinary segregation.

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. ...


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