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Suttie v. Santa Clara County Department of Corrections

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 24, 2017

SCOTT CHARLES SUTTIE, Plaintiff,
v.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendant.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL; INSTRUCTIONS TO CLERK

          JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY United States Magistrate Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Santa Clara County Jail, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections.[1] Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted in a separate order. For the reasons explained below, the complaint is dismissed without prejudice.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations omitted). Although to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         LEGAL CLAIMS

         Plaintiff states that he has been convicted and sentenced, and he is in the custody of Defendant, the Santa Clara Department of Corrections. He alleges that Defendant is depriving him of the time credits to which he is entitled under California Penal Code § 4019, and consequently has set an inaccurate date for his release. He seeks to have Defendant change his release date to accurately reflect his time credits.

         “‘Federal law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to imprisonment: a petition for habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and a complaint under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Rev. Stat. § 1979, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Challenges to the lawfulness of confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus.'” Hill v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 573, 579 (2006) (quoting Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004)). “An inmate's challenge to the circumstances of his confinement, however, may be brought under § 1983.” Id. Habeas is the “exclusive remedy” for the prisoner who seeks “‘immediate or speedier release'” from confinement. Skinner v. Switzer, 561 U.S. 521, 525 (2011) (quoting Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 82 (2005)). This includes inmates who are seeking reinstatement of time credits to the extent that such reinstatement would “necessarily spell speedier release.” Skinner, 561 U.S. at 525. Plaintiff seeks reinstatement of time credits to which he claims to be entitled under state law, and to advance his release date. To obtain that remedy in federal court, he must file a petition for a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, not a civil rights complaint. Accordingly, Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed without prejudice to bringing his claims in a federal habeas petition. See Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 586 (9th Cir. 1995) (civil rights complaint seeking habeas relief should be dismissed without prejudice to bringing as petition for writ of habeas corpus).

         CONCLUSION

         For the foregoing reasons, the complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice to bringing it as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         The Clerk shall enter judgment and close the file, and send Plaintiff this Court's form habeas petition and in forma pauperis application, instructions for completing the forms, and postage-paid return envelopes.

         IT ...


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