United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER LIFTING STAY AND DISMISSING ACTION
M. RYU United States Magistrate Judge.
2016, Plaintiff filed the instant pro se civil
rights complaint for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in
which he sought monetary damages for the alleged violation of
his constitutional right to a speedy trial. Dkt. 1 at 3.
Plaintiff consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. Dkt. 4.
Therefore, this matter was assigned to the undersigned
initial review, the court stayed this action due to the
pendency of the criminal case against Plaintiff. Dkt. 6. The
court explained the rule from Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477 (1994), i.e., if success in the section 1983 action
would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of a conviction,
the section 1983 action is barred unless the conviction
already been determined to be invalid. Dkt. 6 at 2-3. The
court further explained as follows:
If a plaintiff files a section 1983 false arrest claim before
he or she is convicted, or files any other claim related to
rulings that likely will be made in a pending or anticipated
criminal trial, it is within the power of the district court,
and accords with common practice, to stay the civil action
until the criminal case or the likelihood of a criminal case
Id. (quoting Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384,
393-94 (2007)). The court then applied these rules to
Plaintiff's section 1983 action, stating: “Here,
Plaintiff seeks damages for the violation of his
constitutional right to a speedy trial, but Plaintiff has not
alleged that he has been convicted. Accordingly, the court
will stay further proceedings in this matter until
Plaintiff's criminal proceedings have concluded.”
Id. at 3.
has since filed a letter to the court, which will be
construed as his motion to lift the stay. Dkt. 9. Plaintiff
reports that he has been convicted in state court, and now
would like to go forward with this action. See Id.
while the stay can be lifted, the court explains below that
Plaintiff cannot go forward with this action. Instead, his
conviction requires that this action be dismissed.
Wallace v. Kato explained that a stay is appropriate
while a criminal case is pending, and also explained what
happens at the conclusion of that criminal case: “If
the plaintiff is ultimately convicted, and if the stayed
civil suit would impugn that conviction, Heck will
require dismissal; otherwise, the civil action will proceed,
absent some other bar to suit.” Wallace v.
Kato, 549 U.S. at 394. Here, the Heck rule
applies for the reasons stated in the order staying the case.
See Dkt. 6 at 2-3. A stay was appropriate while
Plaintiff's criminal case was pending, but now that a
conviction has occurred, the Heck rule requires that
this action be dismissed. Plaintiff must have his conviction
overturned (e.g., on direct appeal, or in state or federal
habeas proceedings) before he may file a section 1983 action
asserting a violation of his constitutional right to a speedy
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's motion to lift the stay is
GRANTED. Dkt. 9. The stay is now lifted. However, the
Heck rule bars Plaintiff's section 1983 claim
because success on the claim would call into question the
validity of his state court judgment of conviction, and that
conviction has not yet been set aside. Therefore, the action
must be dismissed.
Plaintiff wants to challenge the lawfulness of his current
custody, the exclusive method by which he may do so in
federal court is by filing a petition for writ of habeas
corpus. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500
(1973). Such a petition should not be filed until he first
exhausts state judicial remedies as to any claim he wishes to
present in a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus.
foregoing reasons, this action is DISMISSED. The dismissal is
without prejudice to Plaintiff filing a new section 1983
action for damages if his state court conviction is
overturned or set aside.
Clerk of the Court shall terminate all pending motions and
close the file.
Order terminates Docket No. 9.