United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by a federal prisoner under
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bur. of
Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The Court has granted
Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110
Stat. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any
prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2), 1915A. The Court must read Plaintiff's
pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept
Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly
irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these
standards, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed for
failure to state a claim.
Sidney Brown presently is incarcerated with the Bureau of
Prisons and housed at USP Pollack in Pollack, Louisiana.
Plaintiff sues Western District of Michigan Assistant United
States Attorney Mark Courtade.
January 2012, Plaintiff was tried in this Court on charges of
possessing with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of
cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1),
being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1), and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i), 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). In the instant complaint, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Courtade violated his right to due
process and a fair trial by introducing false evidence that
the money seized during a second search of Plaintiff's
residence was drug proceeds. Plaintiff contends that
Defendant was aware at the time of trial that the money had
been returned to its owner by the United States Attorney,
apparently because there was insufficient evidence linking
the currency to illegal activities. Plaintiff alleges that he
was prejudiced by Defendant's false representations about
the money, given that it was used as the evidence of drug
trafficking underlying Plaintiff's conviction for
possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking
crime, on which he was sentenced to a consecutive prison term
of 60 months.
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of
Failure to state a claim
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The
court must determine whether the complaint contains
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent
to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding
that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies
to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
he seeks only damages, Plaintiff effectively challenges the
validity of his conviction on one or more offenses. A
challenge to the fact or duration of confinement should be
brought as a petition for habeas corpus and is not the proper
subject of a civil rights action brought pursuant to §
1983. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484
(1973) (the essence of habeas corpus is an attack by a person
in custody upon the legality of that custody and the
traditional function of the writ is to secure release from
illegal custody). Therefore, to the extent that
Plaintiff's complaint challenges the fact or duration of
his incarceration, it must be dismissed. See Adams v.
Morris, 90 F. App'x 856, 858 (6th Cir. 2004)
(dismissal is appropriate where § 1983 action seeks
equitable relief and challenges fact or duration of
confinement); see also Moore v. Pemberton, 110 F.3d
22, 23-24 (7th Cir. 1997) (reasons for not construing a
§ 1983 action as one seeking habeas relief include (1)
potential application of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994), (2) differing defendants, (3) differing standards
of § 1915(a)(3) and § 2253(c), (4) differing fee
requirements, (5) potential application of second or
successive petition doctrine or three-strikes rules of §
extent Plaintiff seeks monetary relief for alleged violations
of Constitutional rights, his claim is barred by Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), which held that
“in order to recover damages for allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other
harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a
conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff
must prove that the conviction or sentence has been
[overturned].” See Edwards v. Balisok, 520
U.S. 641, 646 (1997) (emphasis in original). In
Heck, the Supreme Court held that a state prisoner
cannot make a cognizable claim under § 1983 for an
allegedly unconstitutional conviction or for “harm
caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a
conviction or sentence invalid” unless a prisoner shows
that the conviction or sentence has been “reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid
by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or
called into question by a federal court's issuance of a
writ of habeas corpus.” Id. at 486-87
(footnote omitted). The holding in Heck has been
extended to actions seeking injunctive or declaratory relief.
See Edwards, 520 U.S. at 646-48 (declaratory
relief); Clarke v. Stalder, 154 F.3d 186, 189-90
(5th Cir. 1998) (claim for injunctive relief intertwined with
request for damages); Wilson v. Kinkela, No.
97-4035, 1998 WL 246401, at *1 (6th Cir. May 5, 1998)
(injunctive relief). Plaintiff's allegations clearly call
into question the validity of his conviction. Therefore, his
action is barred under Heck until his criminal
conviction has been invalidated.
court's dismissal of a claim on the basis that it is
barred by Heck v. Humphrey is properly considered a
dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) because it fails to
state a claim on which relief can be granted. See Hunt v.
Michigan, 482 F. App'x 20, 22 (6th Cir. 2012) (a
claim barred by Heck is properly dismissed for
failure to state a claim); Morris v. Cason, 102 F.
App'x 902, 903 (6th Cir. 2004) (same).
conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform
Act, the Court determines that Plaintiff's action will be
dismissed for failure to state a claim ...