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Marcus Leon Linthecome v. Sheriff Baca

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA WESTERN DIVISION


May 7, 2013

MARCUS LEON LINTHECOME,
PETITIONER,
v.
SHERIFF BACA, ET AL.,
RESPONDENTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jesus G. Bernal United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING PETITION

Petitioner, who is currently incarcerated in the Los Angeles Men's Central Jail, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus on April 8, 2013. The petition does not challenge a conviction or sentence. Instead, petitioner challenges the conditions of his confinement. As relief, he seeks an order transferring him to the Pitchess Detention Center and providing him with medical attention. [See Petition at 1-5].

As a general rule, a claim challenging the fact or duration of a prisoner's confinement should be addressed by filing a habeas corpus petition, while a claim challenging the conditions of confinement should be addressed by filing a civil rights action. See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 78-82 (2005).

Petitioner does not challenge his conviction or sentence. Nor do any of his allegations concern the validity or duration of his confinement. At best, then, a favorable judgment would merely alter the conditions under which petitioner is confined. Because petitioner's claim properly is construed as one challenging the conditions of his confinement, it is cognizable in a civil rights action, not in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

A federal court has discretion to recharacterize a mislabeled habeas corpus petition as a civil rights action and to permit the action to proceed as such. Typically, however, such a re-characterization is inappropriate. Because of the filing fee requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), its provisions requiring sua sponte review of complaints, and its limits on the number of actions a prisoner may be permitted to file in forma pauperis, a prisoner should not be obligated to proceed with a civil rights action unless it is clear that he or she wishes to do so. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e; see generally Robinson v. Sherrod, 631 F.3d 839, 841 (7th Cir.)("[W]e think it worth reminding the district courts not to recharacterize a prisoner's petition for habeas corpus as a prisoner civil rights complaint without his informed consent.... It's not like recharacterizing a tort suit as a suit for breach of contract, since ... a habeas corpus action and a prisoner civil rights suit differ in a variety of respects -- such as the proper defendant, filing fees, the means of collecting them, and restrictions on future filings -- that may make recharacterization impossible or, if possible, disadvantageous to the prisoner compared to a dismissal without prejudice of his petition for habeas corpus.")(citations omitted), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 397 (2011); cf. Blueford v. Prunty, 108 F.3d 251, 255 (9th Cir. 1997)(stating that a court should not convert a civil rights action into habeas petition due to the implications of the abuse of the writ doctrine); Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 586 (9th Cir. 1995)(same).

Accordingly, the petition is dismissed without prejudice to petitioner's ability to attempt to pursue his claims in a civil rights action.*fn1 It is so ordered.


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