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Jenkins v. Mosley

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

January 31, 2018

DuPre Jenkins, Plaintiff,
Warden B. Mosley; CO C Snyder; CO K Krit; CO Barsh; Davison; Taylor; Lt. Broadwater; Lt. Blackwelder; CO Baker, Defendants.


          Kaymani D. West, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This is a civil action filed pro se by a federal prison inmate. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in such pro se cases and to submit findings and recommendations to the district court. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e); 1915A (as soon as possible after docketing, district courts should review prisoner cases to determine whether they are subject to summary dismissal).

         I. Background

         DuPre Jenkins (“Plaintiff”), a federal prisoner, contests the procedure used in a disciplinary violation hearing. Plaintiff does not provide the date of the disciplinary hearing, but he alleges that he was not provided with a staff representative as requested and asserts that the DHO was biased against him and his defense to the disciplinary charges that were filed by Defendant Broadwater and witnessed by Defendants Krit, Blackwelder, and Barsh (the “113 shot” and the “201 shot”). ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Davidson tried to force him to take a staff representative that he did not want and that the representative that he did request, Defendant Baker, did not do the things he asked her to do about looking at the evidence that was used against him. Id. In his Answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories, Plaintiff acknowledges that he lost 45 days of earned good-time credits as part of the sanction for his conviction on the prison disciplinary charges. ECF No. 17. Plaintiff also asserts that his hand was caught in the flap of his cell door during meal service and that Defendant Snyder refused to give him his tray. He does not allege that he suffered any injury from this action. He also alleges that Defendant Taylor refused to provide him with grievance forms. ECF No. 1 at 5. Plaintiff left blank the space on his complaint form for “relief.” Id. at 6.

         II. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of Plaintiff's pro se Complaint filed in this case. This review has been conducted pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983); Boyce v. Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).

         Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Kerr v. Marshall Univ. Bd. of Governors, 824 F.3d 62, 72 (4th Cir. 2016). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 630 n.1 (4th Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that this court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Even under this less stringent standard, the Complaint filed in this case is subject to summary dismissal under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff has not requested any relief nor has he suggested to this court any remedy for the alleged violations of his rights. Were this court to find that Plaintiff's rights were violated, but order no remedy, it would, in effect, be rendering an advisory opinion. Such action is barred by Article III of the United States Constitution. Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 401 (1975) (federal courts do not render advisory opinions); Bowler v. Young, 55 Fed.Appx. 187, 188 (4th Cir. 2003) (same). The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals faced an analogous situation in Pub. Serv. Co. v. EPA, 225 F.3d 1144 (10th Cir. 2000). In that case, addressing the plaintiff's failure to request specific relief, the court stated,

[t]his court would violate Article III's prohibition against advisory opinions were it to do that which [the plaintiff] requests, i.e., issue a mere statement that the EPA's interpretation and application of the law was incorrect without ordering some related relief.

Id. at 1148 n.4 (citing United States v. Burlington N. R.R., 200 F.3d 679, 699 (10th Cir. 1999)). It is well settled that federal courts performing their duties of construing pro se pleadings are not required to be “mind readers” or “advocates” for state prisoners or pro se litigants. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d at 1151. In absence of a request for relief from Plaintiff, the Complaint filed in this case is frivolous and subject to summary dismissal.

         Moreover, even if Plaintiff had requested relief, the portion of the Complaint that contains allegations about Plaintiff's unhappiness with the way his disciplinary hearing was conducted fails to state a plausible claim under the Bivens Doctrine[1] because the hearing resulted in sanctions that included loss of earned good-time credits. It is settled that “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.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994) (citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973)). Cf. Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 755 (2004) (§ 1983 may be used to challenge disciplinary procedures where no accrued/earned good-time credits are taken as a sanction). The holdings of Heck and Preiser, insofar as applicable to challenges to prison disciplinary procedures under which forfeited good-time credits may be restored, were confirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74 (2005). Referencing both Heck and Preiser, along with Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997) and Wolf v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), the Wilkinson Court stated,

These cases . . . taken together, indicate that a state prisoner's § 1983 action is barred (absent prior invalidation) - no matter the relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of the prisoner's suit (state conduct leading to conviction or internal prison proceedings) - if success in that action ...

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