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Wolinski v. M. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 8, 2017

M. COLVIN, et al., Defendants.


          SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge.


         Krzysztof Wolinski, an inmate currently housed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California, filed a pro se civil rights complaint seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint is now before the court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Wolinski's motion to remand this action to state court also is now before the court for consideration.


         The complaint in this action was prepared using a 4-page form complaint for California state courts that guides a plaintiff to provide needed information by directing him to check the appropriate boxes and fill in the blanks. (See Docket No. 1-1 at 2-4.) Here, Wolinski's form complaint has almost no factual allegations. The complaint alleges that a cause of action for “general negligence” is presented and alleges that damages are sought for “abuse of authority and power to deprive plaintiff [of] his constitutional rights, including deliberate denial of access to courts, and access to law library” . . . [and] maliciously causing dismissal of several court[] actions & federal habeas corpus in addition to deliberate perjury/forgery.” (Id. at 4 (random punctuation and capitalization omitted).) The complaint cites several cases and cites several federal constitutional provisions, and a variety of state regulations and California Penal Code sections. (Id.) Attached to the complaint are approximately 100 pages of exhibits; those exhibits include filings in other cases, miscellaneous prison records, and other courts' orders. (Id. at 5-105.)


         A. Plaintiff's Motion To Remand the Action To State Court

         Wolinski filed this action in Monterey County Superior Court on January 11, 2016. (Docket No. 1-1 at 2.) On February 6, 2017, the five defendants filed a notice of removal of the action to federal court, representing that all five defendants had been served with the summons and complaint on January 17, 2017. (Docket No. 1 at 2.)

         Shortly after defendants removed this action to federal court, Wolinski informed this court that he wanted to file a motion to get the case sent back to state court and sought an extension of the deadline to file such a motion. The court explained that the procedural mechanism to challenge the removal of an action was to file a motion to remand and extended the deadline for Wolinski to file such a motion. (Docket Nos. 12, 14, 16.)

         Wolinski now moves to remand the action to the Monterey County Superior Court. (Docket No. 17.) He argues that the “cluster of issues involved in this case are complex, and yet barred by” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and that an action must be remanded if the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. (Docket No. 17 at 1-2.) His argument is rather confused but appears to be that Heck is implicated in this case because prison officials' refusal to provide assistance and supplies for his litigation efforts in earlier cases caused him to lose those cases. (Id. at 3-4.)

         The case of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), held that a plaintiff cannot bring a civil rights action for damages for a wrongful conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, unless that conviction or sentence already has been determined to be wrongful. See Id. at 486-87. A conviction or sentence may be determined to be wrongful by, for example, being reversed on appeal or being set aside when a state or federal court issues a writ of habeas corpus. See Id. The Heck rule also prevents a person from bringing an action that -- even if it does not directly challenge a conviction or sentence or the duration of a plaintiff's confinement -- would imply that the conviction or sentence decision affecting the duration of confinement was invalid. If success in the § 1983 action would “necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its duration, ” the § 1983 action is barred no matter the relief sought (i.e., damages or equitable relief) as long as the conviction or decision affecting a plaintiff's confinement has not been set aside. Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005).

         The Heck rule does not appear to apply to this action complaining of denial of access to the courts. Wolinski does not show that Heck applies to any of his claims or that there might be a Heck problem in federal court that would not also exist in state court. Like the federal courts, California courts apply the Heck bar. See, e.g., Yount v. City of Sacramento, 43 Cal.4th 885 (Cal. 2008) (applying Heck rule to § 1983 claim); Baranchik v. Fizulich, 10 Cal.App. 5th 1210, 217 Cal.Rptr.3d 425, 431-35 (Cal.Ct.App. 2017) (claim barred by Heck rule). Wolinski does not show that Heck supports a remand of this action to state court.

         Wolinski also does not show any procedural defect in defendants' removal of this action. The notice of removal appears proper on its face: (1) the removal appears to be timely in that moving defendants report that they were served with the complaint on January 17, 2017, and removed the action on February 6, 2017, less than thirty days later (see Docket No. 1 at 1); and (2) the complaint presents a federal question because, although the allegations are mere conclusions, the complaint purports to assert claims for violations of plaintiff's rights under the First, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (see Docket No. 1-1 at 4). For these reasons, Wolinski's motion to remand this action to state court is DENIED. (Docket No. 17.)

         B. Review ...

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