United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING ACTION PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §
Anthony J. Battaglia, United States District Judge
Ivan Cogswell (“Plaintiff”), a state inmate
currently incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional
Facility (“RJD”) located in San Diego,
California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights
complaint (“Compl.”) brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) In addition, Plaintiff has
prepaid the initial civil filing fee required to commence a
civil action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). (ECF No.
Initial Screening per 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)
though Plaintiff paid the filing fee, the Court can conduct a
sua sponte review of Plaintiff's Complaint because he is
“incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] is
accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for,
violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of
parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary
program.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c). Section
1915A, enacted as part of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), requires sua sponte dismissal of
prisoner complaints, or any portions thereof, which are
frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); Resnick
v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446-47 (9th Cir. 2000). A
similar screening provision of the PLRA would apply to
Plaintiff's Complaint even if he successfully moved to
proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”). See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).
42 U.S.C. § 1983
1983 creates a private right of action against individuals
who, acting under color of state law, violate federal
constitutional or statutory rights.” Devereaux v.
Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1074 (9th Cir. 2001). Section 1983
“is not itself a source of substantive rights, but
merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights
elsewhere conferred.” Graham v. Connor, 490
U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). “To establish § 1983
liability, a plaintiff must show both (1) deprivation of a
right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United
States, and (2) that the deprivation was committed by a
person acting under color of state law.” Tsao v.
Desert Palace, Inc., 698 F.3d 1128, 1138 (9th Cir.
Plaintiff's Complaint, he alleges that his defense
counsel in his state criminal proceedings, and later his
appellate counsel, provided “ineffective assistance of
counsel.” (Compl. at 2.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory
and punitive damages against all the named Defendants.
(Id. at 8.) However, because Plaintiff is seeking
monetary damages against these Defendants, who are his
appointed trial and appellate counsel, under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, based on alleged violations of his constitutional
rights, his claims amount to an attack on the validity of his
underlying criminal conviction, and as such, are not
addressable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, unless he also
alleges that his conviction has been invalidated. Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994); Ramirez v.
Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 855-856 (9th Cir. 2003)
(“Absent such a showing, ‘[e]ven a prisoner who
has fully exhausted available state remedies has no cause of
action under § 1983 . . . .'”) (quoting
Heck, 512 U.S. at 489).
holds that “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 section 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, 512 U.S. at
486-87. A claim challenging the legality of a conviction or
sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable
under § 1983. Id. at 487; Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 643 (1997).
Heck, the Supreme Court held that:
when a state prisoner seeks damages in a section 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. But if the district court determines that the
plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not
demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal
judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed
Heck, 512 U.S. at 487 (emphasis added).
action barred by Heck should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim without prejudice to Plaintiff's
right to file a new action if he succeeds in invalidating his
conviction. Edwards, 520 U.S. at 649.
to the extent Plaintiff intends to raise claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel, such claims
“necessarily imply the invalidity” of his
criminal conviction and continued incarceration.
Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. In other words, were
Plaintiff to succeed in showing that he was provided
ineffective assistance of either trial or appellate counsel,
an award of damages would “necessarily imply the
invalidity” of his conviction and/or sentence.
Id.; see also Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (to succeed on ineffective assistance
claim petitioner must show that ...