United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. HERNDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
February 1, 2017, Petitioner Johnny Garrett, an inmate who is
currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center,
filed what appears to be a combined Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and Civil Rights
Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). He filed
portions of a standard federal habeas petition and a civil
rights complaint form together as a single action.
Id. For the reasons set forth herein, the entire
action shall be DISMISSED and this case CLOSED.
habeas form, Garrett indicates that he was convicted of
aggravated arson in 2007 in Cook County, Illinois. (Doc. 1,
pp. 1-2). He was sentenced by the Cook County Circuit Court
to a term of 25 years of imprisonment. Id. Garrett
does not actually indicate that he is challenging his
conviction or sentence. Id. He also sets forth no
grounds in support of this relief. Id.
civil rights complaint form, Garrett includes no coherent
allegations. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-13). He includes a long list of
numbers, which appear to be dollar amounts, and then requests
damages in the amount of $60, 000, 000.00 against the
“Warden or Sheriff of Illinois.” (Doc. 1, pp.
3-6). He also includes pages from an interior design magazine
depicting luxurious homes. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). Finally, he
includes a copy of an Order entered by Honorable Joe Billy
McDade on January 19, 2017, warning Garrett that he will be
subject to a monetary fine and filing restriction for all
further frivolous filings in the United States District Court
for the Central District of Illinois. (Doc. 1, p. 11).
Noticeably absent from the civil rights complaint form are
factual allegations that describe any constitutional
violations by state officials. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-13).
February 9, 2017, Garrett filed a pleading entitled,
“Motion to Dismiss Indictment and Writ of Habeas
Corpus.” (Doc. 3). In the motion, Garrett does not
actually seek a decision vacating his conviction and
sentence. Id. He also does not seek voluntary
dismissal of the instant habeas action. Id. Instead,
he again requests $60, 000, 000.00 in monetary relief against
the “Warden or Sheriff of Illinois” for what the
warden “did or did not do” both in “the
past and future.” Id.
outset, this Court must independently evaluate the substance
of Garrett's claims to determine if the correct statute -
in this case 28 U.S.C. § 2254 - is being invoked.
Godoski v. United States, 304 F.3d 761, 763 (7th
Cir. 2002) (court must evaluate independently the substance
of the claim being brought, to see if correct statute is
being invoked). A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is the
proper route “[i]f the prisoner is seeking what can
fairly be described as a quantum change in the level of
custody-whether outright freedom, or freedom subject to the
limited reporting and financial constraints of bond or parole
or probation.” Graham v. Broglin, 922 F.2d
379, 381 (7th Cir. 1991). A civil rights complaint brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is proper if the prisoner
“is challenging the conditions rather than the fact of
confinement.” Graham, 922 F.2d at 381; see
also Pischke v. Litscher, 178 F.3d 497, 500 (7th Cir.
invoked both § 2254 and § 1983. (Doc. 1). However,
he cannot proceed under both statutes in the same action. For
that matter, he cannot proceed under either statute
in this action.
case was opened as a federal habeas action. However, Garrett
cannot proceed with a challenge to his Cook County conviction
in this District. Cook County is situated in the federal
judicial district for the Northern District of Illinois. If
he intends to challenge his conviction or sentence, Garrett
must do so by filing a federal habeas petition in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
See Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of
Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484, 493-94 (1973) (§ 2254
petition attacking state court conviction should generally be
brought in the district where the petitioner was convicted).
Court declines to transfer this case to the Northern District
because Plaintiff's combined habeas petition and civil
rights complaint form include no request to vacate the
conviction or sentence. He instead seeks monetary relief.
This remedy is not available under federal habeas law. Given
this fact, the habeas action will be dismissed and the case
closed. However, the dismissal will be without prejudice to
any separate habeas petition Garrett chooses to file in the
Court shall also dismiss all claims brought pursuant to
§ 1983. Plaintiff cannot pursue these claims in a
federal habeas action. In the past, courts sometimes
construed a mistakenly-labeled habeas corpus petition as a
civil rights complaint, but the Court will not do so here.
Graham, 922 F.2d at 381-82 (collecting cases). The
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that district
courts should not engage in this practice. Bunn v.
Conley, 309 F.3d 1002, 1007 (7th Cir. 2002); Moore
v. Pemberton, 110 F.3d 22, 24 (7th Cir. 1997). Garrett
would face obstacles under the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
Title VIII of Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (effective
April 26, 1996). See generally 28 U.S.C. §
1915. Specifically, he would be responsible for paying a much
higher filing fee of $400.00. Furthermore, he could be assessed
another “strike” if the Court determined that the
action was frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
In light of this, the Court will not re-characterize the
instant habeas petition as a complaint filed pursuant to
§ 1983. If Garrett would like to pursue a non-frivolous
claim for monetary damages against state officials whose
misconduct violated his constitutional rights, he may
separately file a § 1983 complaint in the federal
judicial district where the misconduct occurred. The Clerk
will be directed to provide him with this Court's
standard civil rights complaint form.
light of Plaintiffs litigation history and present incoherent
filings, this Court deems it appropriate to echo Judge
McDade's warning against further frivolous litigation in
this District. On January 19, 2017, Judge McDade included the
following warning against further frivolous filings in the
Central District in an Order denying Garrett (i.e.,
a “3-striker”) leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and also dismissing his pending § 1983
. . . [T]he Court deems it necessary to order that
any further frivolous pleadings filed in this Court
by Mr. Garrett may be subject to the type of sanction imposed
by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals inAlexander v. United States,121 F.3d 312, 315 (7th
Cir. 1997), where the Court warned that if the petitioner
filed any further habeas petitions he would be fined $500,
face a Mack order requiring that his fine be paid
before any other civil litigation be allowed to be filed, and
any habeas action will be summarily dismissed thirty days
after filing unless otherwise ordered by the Court. ...