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Houston v. Cash


July 13, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: VIRGINIA A. Phillips United States District Judge


On June 28, 2010, petitioner Stephen Houston, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a purported habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his prison conditions as violative of the Americans With Disabilities Act.


Historically, a federal habeas corpus petition may be brought only "when a state prisoner is challenging the very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a speedier release from that imprisonment[.]" Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 1841, 36 L.Ed. 2d 439 (1973); see also Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 2369, 129 L.Ed. 2d 383 (1984) ("[H]abeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release. . . ."). In other words, habeas corpus "lies to enforce the right of personal liberty; when that right is denied and a person confined, the federal court has the power to release him. Indeed, it has no other power[.]" Faye v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 430-31, 83 S.Ct. 822, 844, 9 L.Ed. 2d 837 (1963), overruled on other grounds, Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 111 S.Ct. 2546, 115 L.Ed. 2d 690 (1991).

Here, the instant petition does not challenge the fact of petitioner's imprisonment or the duration of petitioner's confinement, and petitioner does not claim to have lost any good time credits.*fn1

Rather, the pending habeas petition challenges the conditions of petitioner's prison confinement, specifically the refusal of prison officials to permanently place petitioner in a "single cell" and petitioner's potential transfer to another prison. Thus, petitioner's challenges are not properly brought in a habeas corpus proceeding, but are more properly brought in a civil rights action. Preiser, 411 U.S. at 499, 93 S.Ct. at 1841; Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991); see also Ramirez, 334 F.3d at 859 ("[H]abeas jurisdiction is absent, and a § 1983 action proper, where a successful challenge to a prison condition will not necessarily shorten the prisoner's sentence."). However, this Court cannot convert the instant habeas corpus petition into a civil rights action because, among other things, petitioner has not complied with the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"). An action with respect to prison conditions is defined in the PLRA as "any civil proceeding arising under Federal law with respect to the conditions of confinement or the effects of actions by government officials on the lives of persons confined in prison." 18 U.S.C. § 3626(g)(2). Given this broad statutory definition, the instant petition certainly constitutes an action with respect to prison conditions and, as such, is controlled by the PLRA. Yet, the petitioner has not complied with the PLRA by, inter alia, submitting appropriate prisoner in forma pauperis information, authorizing the deduction of the filing fee from his prison trust fund, providing a six month certification of petitioner's prison trust fund, and stating a claim on which relief may be granted. See, e.g, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(b), 1915(e)(2), 1997e(a). Thus, if petitioner seeks to bring a civil rights action, he must file a complaint and comply with the PLRA.

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States Courts provides that "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the Clerk to notify the petitioner." Here, it is clear that petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief.*fn2 This Court, thus, should summarily dismiss the instant habeas corpus petition.


IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Judgment be entered SUMMARILY DISMISSING the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

PRESENTED BY: DATE: June 29, 2010


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