IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
May 18, 2005
RAYMOND CROWTHER, PLAINTIFF,
KEY MARKET GROCERIES STORE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
RAYMOND CROWTHER, PLAINTIFF,
SHERIFF DON HORSLEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, DISMISSING ACTIONS AND TERMINATING ALL PENDING MOTIONS
Plaintiff Raymond Crowther, is confined at the Redwood City Jail. He has filed two civil rights actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which he seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Venue is proper in this district as the acts complained of occurred in San Mateo County. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
In his first complaint, Crowther v. Key Market Groceries, et al., C 04-5198 CW, Plaintiff alleges that the employers and staff at the grocery store wrongly placed him under citizen's arrest and falsely imprisoned him until police arrived. In the second complaint, Crowther v. Sheriff Don Horsley, et al., C 05-0775 CW, Plaintiff alleges that the terms of his plea agreement were breached. In both complaints he seeks monetary damages.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks 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 that 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of State law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). "'[A] complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Terracom v. Valley National Bank, 49 F.3d 555, 558 (9th Cir. 1995) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).
II. LEGAL CLAIMS
Plaintiff seeks damages for the alleged violation of his constitutional rights in connection with his arrest and State criminal proceedings. In order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a 42 U.S.C. § 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, 512 U.S. 477, 486-487 (1994). A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983. Id. at 487.
When a State prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. Id. The court should not stay any § 1983 claim for damages implicating the validity of a criminal conviction or sentence until criminal proceedings are completed. Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 649 (1997). Heck makes it clear that a § 1983 "cause of action for damages attributable to an unconstitutional conviction or sentence does not accrue until the conviction or sentence has been invalidated." Heck, 512 U.S. at 489-90 (footnote omitted). Any such claim is not cognizable and therefore should be dismissed. See Edwards, 520 U.S. at 649; Butterfield v. Bail, 120 F.3d 1023, 1025 (9th Cir. 1997) (claim barred by Heck may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6)); Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 585 (9th Cir. 1995) (claim barred by Heck may be dismissed sua sponte without prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915).
Plaintiff's claims would, if meritorious, imply the invalidity of his State arrest, detention and any subsequent conviction. Heck generally bars claims challenging the validity of an arrest, prosecution or conviction. See Guerrero v. Gates, 357 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 2004) (Heck barred plaintiff's claims of wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and conspiracy among police officers to bring false charges against him); Cabrera v. City of Huntington Park, 159 F.3d 374, 380 (9th Cir. 1998) (Heck barred plaintiff's false arrest and imprisonment claims until conviction was invalidated); Smithart v. Towery, 79 F.3d 951, 952 (9th Cir. 1996) (Heck barred plaintiff's claims that defendants lacked probable cause to arrest him and brought unfounded criminal charges against him). Heck also bars claims which necessarily implicate the validity of pending criminal charges. See Harvey v. Waldron, 210 F.3d 1008, 1014 (9th Cir. 2000).
Because Plaintiff was involved in ongoing State criminal proceedings when he filed these actions and has not informed the Court since that charges against him have been dismissed or that any resulting conviction has been overturned or invalidated by a State tribunal, these actions must be DISMISSED. The dismissal is without prejudice to Plaintiff bringing a new action raising these claims should he satisfy the Heck pleading requirements.
For the foregoing reasons, leave to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED, and Plaintiff's complaints are DISMISSED without prejudice and without leave to amend. The Clerk of Court shall terminate all pending motions, enter judgment and close the files.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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