United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. Hodges, United States Magistrate Judge
Lamont Barnette (âPlaintiffâ), proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983.
Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(B) and
Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is
authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit
findings and recommendations to the district judge.
Factual and Procedural Background
is a state prisoner at Lieber Correctional Institution and is
challenging action by the South Carolina Department of
Corrections Classification Board (the “Board”)
that he alleges wrongfully extended his sentence.
[See ECF No. 1 at 5-6]. Plaintiff alleges when he
was transferred from a juvenile facility to Broad River
Correctional Institution in 1993, the Board added a
first-degree burglary and criminal sexual conduct charge to
his adult file, even though he had committed those offenses
in 1989 and they should have remained in his juvenile record.
Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and asks the
court to expunge the 1993 charge from his record and
“let the lower court know” he does not need to
register as a sex offender. Id. at 9-10.
Standard of Review
filed his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal
court without prepaying the administrative costs of
proceeding with the lawsuit. To protect against possible
abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court
to dismiss a case upon a finding that the action fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous
or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A
finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a
meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal 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). In
evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's
allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of
N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). The mandated
liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that
if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a
valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should
do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction
does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently
cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir.
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although the court must
liberally construe a pro se complaint, the United States
Supreme Court has made it clear that a plaintiff must do more
than make conclusory statements to state a claim. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677‒78 (2009);
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible
on its face, and the reviewing court need only accept as true
the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal
conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678‒79.
complaint challenges the execution and calculation of his
sentence. Although § 1983 provides access to a federal
forum for claims of unconstitutional treatment at the hands
of state officials, the United States Supreme Court has held
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 (1991); see also Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475 (1973) (holding claims seeking immediate or speedier
release are not cognizable under § 1983 and must be
brought in a habeas corpus proceeding); In re
Wright, 826 F.3d 774, 779 (4th Cir. 2016) (finding
challenge to classification affecting parole eligibility
governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254).
extent Plaintiff seeks monetary damages under § 1983, he
has failed to state an actionable claim. To state a plausible
claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an aggrieved
party must sufficiently allege he was injured by “the
deprivation of any [of his or her] rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the [United States] Constitution and
laws” by a “person” acting “under
color of state law.” See 42 U.S.C. §
1983; see generally 5 Charles Alan Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 1230 (3d ed. 2014). The Board is a public entity and
not a person amenable to suit under § 1983. See
Monnell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658, 690
(1978); Harden v. Green, 27 Fed.Appx. 173, 178 (4th
Cir. 2001) (finding that the medical department of a prison
is not a person pursuant to § 1983); see also Post
v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 750 F.Supp. 1131
(S.D. Fla. 1990) (dismissing city police department as
improper defendant in § 1983 action because not
“person” under the statute); Shelby v. City
of Atlanta, 578 F.Supp. 1368, 1370 (N.D.Ga. 1984)
(dismissing police department as party defendant because it
was merely a vehicle through which city government fulfills
complaint is therefore subject to summary