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STEFFEN v. DAVIS

United States District Court, Northern District of California


May 28, 2003

JAMES L. STEFFEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GRAY DAVIS, GOVERNOR; J. WOODFORD, WARDEN (SAN QUENTIN); PAROLE AND COMMUNITY SERVICES DIVISION; AND BOARD OF PRISON TERMS, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: William Alsup, United States District Judge

JUDGMENT

Pursuant to the court's order entered today, a judgment of dismissal without prejudice is hereby entered. Plaintiff shall take nothing by way of his complaint.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL; DENIAL OF LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Plaintiff, an inmate at San Quentin State Prison, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint. He alleges that the defendants violated his rights in the course of revoking his parole by not holding the revocation hearing within the time required by California law.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2).

B. Legal Claims

The United States Supreme Court has held that to recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or imprisonment invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Heck v. Humphrey, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 2372 (1994).

"Heck applies to proceedings [that] call into question the fact or duration of parole." Jackson v. Vannoy, 49 F.3d 175, 177 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 851 (1995). A plaintiff in a section 1983 suit may not question the validity of the confinement resulting from a parole-revocation hearing if he does not allege that the parole board's decision has been reversed, expunged, set aside or called into question. See Littles v. Bd. of Pardons and Paroles Div., 68 F.3d 122, 123 (5th Cir. 1995); see also McGrew v. Texas Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 47 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 1995) (Heck bars § 1983 action challenging revocation of supervised release).

When a state prisoner's section 1983 suit implicates the length of his or her incarceration, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the decision establishing the length of incarceration (here, the decision to revoke parole) has already been invalidated. See Heck, 412 U.S. 487. A judgment in favor of the plaintiff here would implicate the revocation decision, which has not already been invalidated; therefore, this complaint fails to state a cognizable claim under § 1983 and must be dismissed.*fn1

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons plaintiffs claims are DISMISSED without prejudice to reasserting them if a cause of action ever accrues*fn2. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (doc 2) is DENIED. No fee is due. Plaintiff may disregard the clerk's notice regarding the deficiencies of his in forma pauperis application.

The clerk shall close the file.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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