United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
OPINION & ORDER
Timothy M. Cain United States District Judge.
Edward Terrell Chandler (“Chandler”), a state
prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C., this matter was
referred to a magistrate judge for pretrial handling. Before
the court is the magistrate judge's Report and
Recommendation (“Report”), recommending that
Plaintiff's action be dismissed without prejudice and
without issuance and service of process. (ECF No. 10).
Plaintiff was advised of his right to file objections to the
Report. (ECF No. 10 at 7), and he filed timely objections.
(ECF No. 16). Plaintiff also filed a motion to amend his
complaint. (ECF No. 17).
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the Report to which
specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter with instructions.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, the court need not
conduct a de novo review when a party makes only
“general and conclusory objections that do not direct
the court to a specific error in the magistrate's
proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of a timely filed, specific objection, the Magistrate
Judge's conclusions are reviewed only for clear error.
See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
Report, the magistrate judge sets forth the facts and
background. In particular, she notes that in his Complaint,
Plaintiff alleges that he was pulled over for a traffic stop
on February 24, 2015, while driving a black automobile, even
though dispatch had described the car being sought as blue.
(Report at 1). She states that Plaintiff alleges because of
this, the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to
conduct the traffic stop, and property was seized which would
have helped Plaintiff prove his innocence. (Id.) The
magistrate judge noted that on July 22, 2016, Plaintiff was
convicted of burglary first degree, robbery, kidnapping, and
criminal sexual conduct, and that the start date for his
sentences is February 24, 2015, the date of the traffic stop.
The magistrate judge determined that this action is barred by
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and Plaintiff
cannot bring it until his convictions have been invalidated.
(Report at 4-5). Additionally, the magistrate judge found
that pursuant to the holding in Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37 (1971), this court should not interfere with a
pending state criminal proceeding. (Report at 6).
objections, Plaintiff contends that the magistrate judge
erred in stating that his § 1983 claim revolved around
an alleged improper seizure of property that would have
proven Plaintiff's innocence. (Objections at 1).
Plaintiff contends his claim is only one of an alleged
illegal seizure of the Plaintiff's liberty. Id.
And he alleges the traffic stop does not relate to his
convictions - it only violated his liberty before any arrest,
warrant for arrest, or indictment. Id. In his
objections, Plaintiff also states that his convictions
“would have only been altered by the property allegedly
taken, after the traffic stop.” Id. For the
following reasons, the court finds Plaintiff's objections
are without merit.
to Heck, the “court must consider whether a
judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply
the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would,
the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can
demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been
invalidated.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 487.
Heck, 512 U.S. at 487 n.7, the Supreme Court set
forth the following hypothetical which would not necessarily
imply a conviction was unlawful:
For example, a suit for damages attributable to an allegedly
unreasonable search may lie even if the challenged search
produced evidence that was introduced in a state criminal
trial resulting in the § 1983 plaintiff's
still-outstanding conviction. Because of doctrines like
independent source and inevitable discovery, and especially
harmless error, such a § 1983 action, even if
successful, would not necessarily imply that the
plaintiff's conviction was unlawful.
512 U.S. at 487 n.7. However, here, if the traffic stop was
initiated without probable cause, the evidence seized
pursuant to the stop would be suppressed. Thus, the
suppression of the evidence seized pursuant to the challenged
stop would necessarily imply the invalidity of
Plaintiff's conviction and Plaintiff has not argued that
the doctrines of independent source, inevitable discovery,
harmless error, or other similar doctrines would apply. In
fact, Plaintiff has not offered any reason why his claim
challenging his initial stop would not invalidate his
convictions. He contends that this claim goes only to an
alleged seizure of his liberty and not from any alleged
improper seizure of any evidence afterwards. Plaintiff
attempts to circumvent the holding in Heck by
parsing out the alleged illegal stop from a subsequent
seizure, which in this case he cannot do.
stop appears to have been a Terry stop which
entails the seizure of a person to investigate a reasonable
suspicion of criminal activity. After the stop, there was a
search, evidence was seized, and Plaintiff was arrested.
court finds Plaintiff's claims would imply the invalidity
of his convictions. Moreover, pursuant to Heck, to
proceed with his claims, Plaintiff must prove that all of the
criminal charges arising from the disputed arrest and
subsequent proceedings were terminated in his favor. See
Ballenger v. Owens, 352 F.3d 842 (4th Cir. 2003)
(Heck generally applies where search and seizure
issues are raised). Plaintiff has not Dated this.
Accordingly, as the magistrate judge found, Heck
bars this §1983 action.
forth above, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint.
(ECF No. 17). In his motion, Plaintiff seeks to exclude
references to allegations that his property which was seized
would have helped Plaintiff prove his innocence. (ECF No. 17
at 1, Mot. to Amend at 1). Based on the above analysis, the
court finds the proposed amendment to the complaint would not
preclude this action from being barred by Heck.
Thus, the court finds the amendment futile and should be
denied. See Foman v. Davis, 37 ...