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Ortiz v. Madruga

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 30, 2017

FAUSTINO RUA ORTIZ, Plaintiff,
v.
MADRUGA, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT THIS CASE BE DISMISSED AS BARRED BY HECK V. HUMPHREY, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) AND FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE APPLICABLE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS (DOC. 1).

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Faustino Rua Ortiz (“Plaintiff”) appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a complaint on December 5, 2016, alleging civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against numerous defendants. (Doc. 1). On the same day, Plaintiff also filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Ortiz v. Superior Court County of Fresno, No. 1:16-cv-01824-MJS (E.D.Cal. Dec. 5, 2016) (hereinafter, the “habeas case”). The civil rights complaint is presently before the Court for screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         On April 24, 2017, this Court issued an order to show cause why this case should not be dismissed: 1) for failure to comply with the applicable statute of limitations, and 2) as barred by the Supreme Court of the United States' decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). (ECF No. 4.) Plaintiff filed a response to the order to show cause on May 30, 2017. (ECF No. 5.) Because it is apparent that Plaintiff did not comply with the applicable statute of limitations and his claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, the undersigned judge recommends dismissal.

         II. HECK V. HUMPHREY

         In Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), the United States Supreme Court held that to recover damages for “harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, ” a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence was reversed, expunged, or otherwise invalidated. The favorable-termination rule laid out in Heck preserves the rule that claims which, if successful, would necessarily imply the invalidity of a conviction or sentence, must be brought by way of petition for writ of habeas corpus, after exhausting appropriate avenues for relief. Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750-751 (2004).

         “The applicability of the favorable termination rule turns solely on whether a successful § 1983 action would necessarily render invalid a conviction, sentence, or administrative sanction that affected the length of the prisoner's confinement.” Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 856 (9th Cir. 2003). In Smithart v. Towery, 79 F.3d 951, 952 (9th Cir. 1996), the court held that, “if a criminal conviction arising out of the same facts stands and is fundamentally inconsistent with the unlawful behavior for which section 1983 damages are sought, the 1983 action must be dismissed.” But if the “action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed, in the absence of some other bar to the suit.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. “In evaluating whether claims are barred by Heck, an important touchstone is whether a § 1983 plaintiff could prevail only by negating ‘an element of the offense of which he has been convicted.'” Cunningham v. Gates, 312 F.3d 1148, 1153-54 (9th Cir.2002) (quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 487).

         A. Plaintiff's Civil Rights Complaint

         Here, Plaintiff's § 1983 complaint brings three claims challenging conduct related to his underlying conviction of various charges relating to the sexual abuse of his daughter.

         1. Claim(s) Brought Against Detectives

         In Claim 1, Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated during his arrest when Defendant Madruga, a Fresno Detective, failed to show him an arrest warrant and read him his Miranda rights. Plaintiff further alleges that his rights were violated and his back was hurt during his arrest when officers forced and threw him down and into their car while handcuffed.

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges in Claim 1 that his rights were violated when he was interrogated by Defendant Martinez, a Fresno Detective, during a criminal investigation. He further states that the detective lied to him, did give him an interpreter, forced him to confess, and handcuffed him if he didn't say anything.

         2. Claim(s) Brought Against Public Defender

         Plaintiff alleges in Claim 2 that his public defender, Roberto R. Duke, violated his right to effective assistance of counsel during his criminal trial because Duke “didn't give his best to defend my case.” He states that Duke put him “into a guilty situation” by not telling him what charges he was facing, what issues should have been raised, failing to make appropriate objections, and failing to request DNA evidence.

         3. Claim(s) Brought ...


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