Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SCHRODT v. MINNEY

United States District Court, N.D. California


July 26, 2004.

BRIAN JAMES SCHRODT, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN C. MINNEY; et al., Defendants.

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

JUDGMENT

This action is dismissed without prejudice to plaintiff challenging his conviction in a habeas petition and without prejudice to him filing a new civil rights action if his conviction is set aside.

IT IS SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED. ORDER OF DISMISSAL

  INTRODUCTION

  Brian James Schrodt, an inmate at the Pleasant Valley State Prison, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Schrodt alleges in his complaint that several defendants "conspired to deprive [him] or [his] legal, constitutional right to an appeal, or at the very least render an appeal unsuccessful." Complaint, p. 5. He seeks damages, an investigation of the state court system, review of his case, and a fair trial. The complaint is now before the court for review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

  DISCUSSION

  A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

  To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

  Schrodt's complaint must be dismissed. As explained below, it is too early for him to file a civil rights action for damages and to the extent he wants to challenge his conviction, he must do so in a habeas petition.

  This civil rights action is premature insofar as it seeks damages. The case of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), held that a plaintiff cannot bring a civil rights action for damages for a wrongful conviction unless that conviction already has been determined to be wrongful. See id. at 486-87. A conviction may be determined to be wrongful by, for example, being reversed on appeal or being set aside when a state or federal court issues a writ of habeas corpus. See id. The Heck rule also prevents a person from bringing an action that — even if it does not directly challenge the conviction — would imply that the conviction was invalid. The practical importance of this rule is that plaintiffs cannot attack their convictions in a civil rights action for damages; the conviction must have been successfully attacked before the civil rights action for damages is filed. Heck bars Schrodt's action because his claim that his right to appeal has been deprived or infringed implicates the validity of the conviction he suffered. No cause of action accrues unless and until the conviction is set aside.

  To the extent Schrodt requests an investigation of the state court system or part thereof, the complaint must be dismissed because this court is not in the business of investigating a state court system.

  Finally, Schrodt may not challenge his conviction in a civil rights action. To the extent he wants to have his conviction set aside (as suggested by his request for a fair trial and a review of his entire case and appeal) so that he might have a new trial, he must file a petition for writ of habeas corpus rather than a civil rights action. A petition for writ of habeas corpus is the exclusive method by which Schrodt may challenge his state court conviction in this court. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). Before he may file such a federal habeas petition, however, he must exhaust state judicial remedies, either on direct appeal or through collateral proceedings, by presenting the highest state court available with a fair opportunity to rule on the merits of each and every issue she seeks to raise in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), (c); Duckworth v. Serrano, 454 U.S. 1, 3 (1981). The court will not construe the civil rights complaint to be a petition for writ of habeas corpus. See Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 586 (9th Cir. 1995). The portion of the complaint challenging the conviction is dismissed without prejudice to Schrodt filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Schrodt should act diligently in filing a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus because there is a one-year statute of limitations that limits the time within which he may file a federal habeas petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).

  CONCLUSION

  For the foregoing reasons, the complaint is dismissed. The dismissal is without prejudice to Schrodt challenging his conviction in a habeas petition and without prejudice to him filing a new civil rights action if his conviction is set aside.

  The clerk shall close the file.

  IT IS SO ORDERED.

20040726

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.



Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.