United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge.
James Nicholas, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections who is currently incarcerated at
East Moline Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). In the Complaint,
Plaintiff claims he was wrongfully convicted for failing to
register as a sex offender when he was not required to do so.
(Id. at p. 4). He seeks release from confinement and
$15 million in damages. (Id. at p. 5).
Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to
screen prisoner Complaints and filter out non-meritorious
claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the
Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an
immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). The factual allegations in a pro se
complaint are liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth
Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
early stage, the Court must evaluate the substance of
Plaintiff's claim to determine if he has invoked the
correct statute when bringing the claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Godoski v. United States, 304 F.3d 761,
763 (7th Cir. 2002). 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). If a prisoner is seeking money
damages for violations of his constitutional rights by state
actors, then Section 1983 provides the proper avenue to
relief. In this case, Plaintiff seeks both release and money
from confinement is not an available remedy under Section
1983. Therefore, Plaintiff must pursue this request for
relief by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under
28 U.S.C. § 2254 in federal court, but only after
exhausting his state court remedies. See 28
U.S.C. § 2254. The Clerk of Court will be directed to
provide Plaintiff with a blank Section 2254 Petition for this
damages are an available remedy under Section 1983, but
Plaintiff is barred from pursuing this relief in the present
action. He directly challenges his conviction for failing to
register as a sex offender in Jefferson County, Illinois.
Review of public records reveals that he is currently serving
a sentence for this conviction. According to the Illinois
Department of Corrections' website
“James Nicholas”(Inmate #Y33871) is serving a
4-year sentence following a conviction for failure to report
annually/2 in Jefferson County Circuit Court No. 17-CF-271.
See also Bova v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 446 F.Supp.2d 926,
930 n.2 (S.D. Ill. 2006) (a court may judicially notice
public records available on government websites) (collecting
cases). Because his claim in this case necessarily implies
that his conviction is invalid, he cannot bring the claim
unless the conviction is reversed or expunged. See Heck
v. Humphry, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (Section 1983
claim for money damages based on constitutional violation(s)
that necessarily imply the invalidity of a standing
conviction is unavailable to prisoner until conviction is
reversed or expunged). Because Plaintiff seeks $15 million
for his allegedly wrongful conviction, he cannot pursue this
claim until he can demonstrate that it is, in fact, wrong.
cannot proceed with his claims in this case. Therefore, the
Complaint and this action shall be dismissed. See Preiser
v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973) (dismissing
Section 1983 claims that should have been brought as
petitions for writ of habeas corpus); Bunn v.
Conley, 309 F.3d 1002, 1006-07 (7th Cir. 2002) (district
court should not have recharacterized declaratory judgment
action as petition for habeas corpus). This case will be
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to correct the
spelling of Plaintiff's name in CM/ECF to: Plaintiff
JAMES NICHOLAS. Plaintiff is
WARNED that he must use the proper spelling
for his legal name in all filings submitted to the court.
IS ORDERED that the Complaint (Doc. 1) and this
action are DISMISSED without prejudice
because his claim for money damages is Heck-barred
and the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the validity of
his conviction or his request for release from confinement.
This dismissal does not preclude Plaintiff from bringing any
state or federal claim in a newly-filed action.
IS ORDERED that the all pending motions (Docs. 3 and
4) are DISMISSED as MOOT.
is ADVISED that the dismissal does
not count as one of his three “strikes”
under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
is further ADVISED that his obligation to
pay the filing fee for this action was incurred at the time
the action was filed, thus the filing fee of $350.00 remains
due and payable. See 28 U.S.C. § ...