United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
Jerome A. Owens, #299108, a/k/a Jerome Owens, Plaintiff,
Alan Wilson, South Carolina Attorney General, and State of South Carolina, Defendants.
F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge
pro se Plaintiff, Jerome A. Owens, is an inmate at
the Allendale Correctional Institution. He brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending that Defendants
violated his constitutional rights.
reviewing the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge assigned to
this action prepared a thorough Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) sua sponte and
opined that this case should be dismissed without prejudice
and without issuance and service of process. (ECF No. 14).
The Report sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and
standards of law on this matter, and this Court incorporates
those facts and standards without a recitation. Plaintiff
filed objections to the Report on May 15, 2017. (ECF No. 17).
Thus, this matter is ripe for review.
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report to which specific objections
are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge,
or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
However, a district court is only required to conduct a
de novo review of the specific portions of the
Magistrate Judge's Report to which an objection is made.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b);
Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. & Parole,
974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific
objections to portions of the Report of the Magistrate, this
Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198,
199 (4th Cir. 1983).
Owens argues that his prior convictions in Florida, which
enhanced his sentence, should not have been considered in
calculating the sentence he is currently serving. (ECF No. 17
p. 3). Plaintiff lists his sentence enhancement as an injury,
and he seeks to negate or lessen the sentence. (ECF No. 17 p.
2). The Supreme Court of the United States, however, has held
that “[h]abeas 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.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,
481 (1994) (citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475, 488-90 (1973)).
Heck, the issue before the Court was whether a state
prisoner could challenge the constitutionality of his
conviction in a suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Id. at 478. The Court noted that “the
dismissal of [plaintiff's] §1983 action was correct
because [the] courts below found that his damages claims
challenged the legality of his conviction.”
Id. at 477-88, 489-90. The Court further noted that
a damages claim related to a sentence that has not been
invalidated is not cognizable under §1983. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that his sentence is unconstitutionally
lengthy, and he is seeking damages in the form of equitable
relief. Plaintiff asks this Court for a
“declaration of the Federal Law, ” alleging that
he was “deprived Due Process of a Federal Statutory
Law.” (ECF No. 4 p. 9). Plaintiff also contends that
“[t]he facts of Heck authority and the case
law does not have any bearing on the facts or question before
the court in the Magistrates [sic] report and
recommendation.” (ECF No. 17 p. 3). Plaintiff further
states that Heck “only hints at the answer to
the current issue before this Court in dicta and therefore
does not constitute directly applicable precedent.”
(ECF No. 17 p. 6).
Owens is mistaken. Heck is directly applicable to
the present case because Owens is contesting his sentence and
the enhancement thereof. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 487.
The Magistrate Judge thus correctly opined that, under the
Supreme Court's ruling in Heck, Owens' claim
for damages and release from custody is barred, unless he can
demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has been
successfully challenged, because the success of his action
would implicitly question the validity of his conviction or
duration of his sentence. See Id. Moreover, as Owens
has not demonstrated that his conviction has been reversed,
expunged, or declared invalid by a state court, and no
federal writ has been issued, his action must be dismissed
for failure to state a claim, and his request for damages
under §1983 is barred. See Heck, 512 U.S. at
477-78 (“[T]he dismissal of [plaintiff's]
§1983 action was correct because [the] courts below
found that his damages claims challenged the legality of his
conviction.”). As the Magistrate Judge correctly
stated, “[t]o the extent Plaintiff is challenging his
conviction, a writ of habeas corpus is his exclusive
remedy.” (ECF No. 14 p. 4); see Heck, at
after carefully reviewing the applicable laws, the record in
this case, the Report, and the objection thereto, this Court
finds the Magistrate Judge's Report fairly and accurately
summarizes the facts and applies the correct principles of
law. The Report is incorporated herein by reference.
Accordingly, this Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 14). Thus, this action is
dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service