United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Kaymani D. West, United States Magistrate Judge.
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
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.
Standard of Review
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).
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).
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.
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 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
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 ...