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Johnson v. Fisher

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 12, 2017

WILLIAM JOHNSON, Petitioner,
v.
RAYTHEL FISHER, Warden at Valley State Prison, Respondent.

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (Doc. 1)

          SHEILA K. OBERTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Screening Memorandum

         Petitioner William Johnson is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[1] He alleges that a prison disciplinary hearing violated his due process and equal protection rights, and seeks reversal of the disciplinary findings and return to full program status. The Court has reviewed the petition (Doc. 1) and determined that the petition does not state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss the petition without prejudice to Petitioner's alleging his claims in an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         I. Preliminary Screening

         Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases requires the Court to conduct a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court must dismiss a petition "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition . . . that the petitioner is not entitled to relief." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing 2254 Cases; see also Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990). A petition for habeas corpus should not be dismissed without leave to amend unless it appears that no tenable claim for relief can be pleaded were such leave to be granted. Jarvis v. Nelson, 440 F.2d 13, 14 (9th Cir. 1971).

         II. The Petition Fails to State a Habeas Claim

         A federal petition for writ of habeas corpus concerns whether a petitioner is in custody in violation of the Constitution. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). "Habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may come within the literal terms of § 1983." Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 488-89 (1973). Challenges to the conditions of prison life are properly brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. McCarthy v. Bronson, 500 U.S. 136, 142 (1991).

         Petitioner seeks redress for violations of his Due Process and Equal Protection rights in the course of disciplinary proceedings that resulted in Petitioner's losing certain programming privileges. Because Petitioner is serving a sentence of life without parole, the disciplinary sanctions do not concern the fact or duration of petitioner's confinement nor seek immediate or speedier release. Accordingly, Petitioner's claims are appropriately pursued in a civil rights claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Because Petitioner is not entitled to habeas corpus relief, the Court must dismiss his habeas corpus petition. Petitioner may pursue his claims by filing a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         III. Certificate of Appealability

         A petitioner seeking a writ of habeas corpus has no absolute entitlement to appeal a district court's denial of his petition, but may only appeal in certain circumstances. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 335-36 (2003). The controlling statute in determining whether to issue a certificate of appealability is 28 U.S.C. § 2253, which provides:

(a) In a habeas corpus proceeding or a proceeding under section 2255 before a district judge, the final order shall be subject to review, on appeal, by the court of appeals for the circuit in which the proceeding is held.
(b) There shall be no right of appeal from a final order in a proceeding to test the validity of a warrant to remove to another district or place for commitment or trial a person charged with a criminal offense against the United States, or to test the validity of such person's detention pending removal proceedings.
(c) (1) Unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability, an appeal may not be taken to ...

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