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Buehler v. Jaimet

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 19, 2018



          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Christopher Buehler, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, including a preliminary injunction, and compensation. 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.

         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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under Section 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff received a disciplinary report on May 6, 2018. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Prior to his hearing, Plaintiff submitted witness requests to Heck and McBride. Id. The hearing was held on May 17, 2018. Id. Heck and McBride refused to interview Plaintiff's witnesses or grant him an extension of time and falsely recorded that Plaintiff had not requested any witnesses. Id. Plaintiff was punished with 1 year segregation, 1 year commissary restriction, loss of 1 year good time credit, 6 month contact visit restrictions, a disciplinary transfer, and 1 year C-grade status. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 13). Plaintiff sent a request to Jaimet regarding the violations of his rights, but she did not respond. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff requests an injunction, release from segregation, declarative relief, and compensation. (Doc. 1, p. 7).


         It is well-settled that a court may invoke an affirmative defense on behalf of an un-served defendant if it is clear from the face of the complaint that the defense applies. Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1009 (7th Cir. 2002); Gleash v. Yuswak, 308 F.3d 758, 760 (7th Cir. 2002). The defense must be both apparent and unmistakable. Walker, 288 F.3d at 1010. Upon careful review of the complaint in this case, it is clear that this action is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

         Heck states that a prisoner cannot maintain a civil rights suit if a judgment in his favor would necessarily imply that his conviction was invalid. 512 U.S. at 487. A prison disciplinary finding is a conviction for purposes of Heck where a prisoner loses good time credit as a result of the proceedings. Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997); Moore v. Mahone, 652 F.3d 722, 723 (7th Cir. 2011). The principle is based on collateral estoppel: an issue determined with finality cannot be re-litigated in a subsequent case. Moore, 652 F.3d at 723. A prisoner who challenges an essential finding of a disciplinary proceeding must see his case dismissed. Id.; Okoro v. Callaghan, 324 F.3d 488, 490 (7th Cir. 2003).

         Plaintiff alleges that he lost good time credit, thus triggering the application of Heck. Further, his allegations go to an essential finding of the proceedings. Plaintiff's allegation in this lawsuit is that he should have been permitted to call witnesses or delay the hearing. A finding that the defendants violated Plaintiff's rights by the manner in which they conducted the disciplinary proceedings would necessarily imply the invalidity of those proceedings. See Edwards, 520 U.S. at 647 (Heck barred prisoner's claim that prison disciplinary committee refused to allow him to call witnesses); Elcock v. Whitecotton, 434 Fed.Appx. 541, 543 (7th Cir. 2011) (prisoner could not challenge prosecution of disciplinary proceedings because such a claim was barred by Heck). Plaintiff's challenges go to an ...

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