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Kirk Turner v. James Yates

April 22, 2011

KIRK TURNER,
PETITIONER,
v.
JAMES YATES, WARDEN RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

[Doc. 13]

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus on January 26, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The petition was transferred to this Court on February 1, 2011.

Petitioner challenges a June 6, 2008 disciplinary hearing on a charge of over-familiarity with staff. He specifically contends that the disciplinary infraction was misclassified as a serious violation under the California regulations, that he was denied the right to call a witness during the hearing, and that he was denied his First Amendment right to receive published materials.

Respondent filed the instant motion to dismiss the petition for failure to state a cognizable claim on March 14, 2011. Petitioner filed an opposition on April 4, 2011.

DISCUSSION

I. Procedural Grounds for Motion to Dismiss

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases allows a district court to dismiss a petition if it "plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court . . . ." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

The Ninth Circuit has allowed respondents to file a motion to dismiss in lieu of an answer if the motion attacks the pleadings for failing to exhaust state remedies or being in violation of the state's procedural rules. See e.g., O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (9th Cir. 1990) (using Rule 4 to evaluate motion to dismiss petition for failure to exhaust state remedies); White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602-03 (9th Cir. 1989) (using Rule 4 as procedural grounds to review motion to dismiss for state procedural default); Hillery v. Pulley, 533 F.Supp. 1189, 1194 & n.12 (E.D. Cal. 1982) (same). Thus, a respondent can file a motion to dismiss after the court orders a response, and the Court should use Rule 4 standards to review the motion. See Hillery, 533 F. Supp. at 1194 & n. 12.

II. Failure to State Cognizable Claim

Respondent argues that this Court lacks jurisdiction to review the instant petition because "the disciplinary conviction does not affect the fact or duration of [Petitioner's] confinement." (Mot. to Dismiss, at 2.) Respondent also argues that Petitioner's challenge based on the classification of the disciplinary charge is a matter of state law which is not cognizable for habeas corpus review.

A federal court may only grant a petition for writ of habeas corpus if the petitioner can show that "he is in custody in violation of the Constitution . . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A habeas corpus petition is the correct method for a prisoner to challenge the "legality or duration" of his confinement. Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991), quoting, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 485 (1973); Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 1 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. In contrast, a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 is the proper method for a prisoner to challenge the conditions of that confinement. McCarthy v. ...


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