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Brown v. Sherman

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 1, 2015

RONNIE O. BROWN, Petitioner,
S. SHERMAN, Respondent.


EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge.

Petitioner, a California inmate currently incarcerated at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, California, filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons discussed below, the instant petition will be dismissed.


Petitioner is a legally blind prisoner. Petitioner is not challenging his conviction. He appears to be suing the prison where he is incarcerated for failing to comply with the court-approved remedial plan and assign Petitioner to housing that complies with either the Americans for Disabilities Act ("ADA") or the "uniform accessibility requirements [of] Section 504." (Pet. at 5.)

It is well established in this circuit that "habeas jurisdiction is absent, and a § 1983 action proper, where a successful challenge to a prison condition will not necessarily shorten the prisoner's sentence." Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th Cir. 2003). The preferred practice in the Ninth Circuit also has been that challenges to conditions of confinement should be brought in a civil rights complaint. See Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991) (civil rights action is proper method of challenging conditions of confinement); Crawford v. Bell, 599 F.2d 890, 891-92 & n.1 (9th Cir. 1979) (affirming dismissal of habeas petition on basis that challenges to terms and conditions of confinement must be brought in civil rights complaint). Here, Petitioner's claim that the prison is violating the terms of a court-ordered consent decree and is violating the ADA, if successful, would not necessarily shorten his sentence. Accordingly, the petition goes entirely to the conditions of his confinement, and success in this action would not necessarily affect the duration of his confinement.

Although a district court may construe a habeas petition by a prisoner attacking the conditions of his confinement as a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, see Wilwording v. Swenson, 404 U.S. 249, 251 (1971), the Court declines to do so here. The difficulty with construing a habeas petition as a civil rights complaint is that the two forms used by most prisoners request different information and much of the information necessary for a civil rights complaint is not included in the habeas petition filed here. Examples of the potential problems created by using the habeas petition form rather than the civil rights complaint form include the potential omission of intended defendants, potential failure to link each defendant to the claims, and potential absence of an adequate prayer for relief.

Additionally, there is doubt whether the prisoner is willing to pay the $350.00 civil action filing fee to pursue his claims. It is not in the interest of judicial economy to allow prisoners to file civil rights actions on habeas forms because virtually every such case, including this one, will be defective at the outset and require additional court resources to deal with the problems created by the different filing fees and the absence of information on the habeas form.


For the foregoing reasons, this action for a writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED without prejudice to Petitioner filing a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, preferably using the court's civil rights complaint form, after he has exhausted California's prison administrative remedies. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).

If Petitioner chooses to file a civil rights complaint, he should choose the appropriate venue for his complaint. Venue generally is proper in a judicial district in which: (1) any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the state in which the district is located; (2) a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or (3) any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility is located in Corcoran, California, in Kings County, which is in the Eastern District of California. Id. at § 84(b).

The Clerk is instructed to include two copies of the prisoner civil rights complaint form to Petitioner with a copy of this order.

[All questions on this complaint form must be answered in order for your action to proceed...]

I. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies.

[Note: You must exhaust your administrative remedies before your claim can go forward. The court will dismiss any unexhausted claims.]
A. Place of present confinement _________________________________
B. Is there a grievance procedure in this institution?
C. Did you present the facts in your complaint for review through the grievance procedure?
D. If your answer is YES, list the appeal number and the date and result of the appeal at each level of review. If you did not pursue a certain level of appeal, explain why.
1. Informal appeal ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
2. First formal level ________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
3. Second formal level _______________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
4. Third formal level ________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
E. Is the last level to which you appealed the highest level of appeal available to you?

F. If you did not present your claim for review through the grievance procedure, explain why. ______________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________

II. Parties.

A. Write your name and your present address. Do the same for additional plaintiffs, if any. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
B. Write the full name of each defendant, his or her official position, and his or her place of employment. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________

III. Statement of Claim.

State here as briefly as possible the facts of your case. Be sure to describe how each defendant is involved and to include dates, when possible. Do not give any legal arguments or cite any cases or statutes. If you have more than one claim, each claim should be set forth in a separate numbered paragraph. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________

IV. Relief.

Your complaint cannot go forward unless you request specific relief. State briefly exactly what you want the court to do for you. Make no legal arguments; cite no cases or statutes. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

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