United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court sua sponte. Pro se Plaintiff
William Stacy Timmons is incarcerated with the Mississippi
Department of Corrections (“MDOC”), and he brings
this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging a Rule
Violation Report (“RVR”). The Court has
considered and liberally construed the pleadings. As set
forth below, this case is dismissed.
is currently housed at Central Mississippi Correctional
Facility. Defendant Brian Ladner is the Warden, and
Defendants Latasha Brooks and Tirah Wesley are employed as
disciplinary officers at the prison.
alleges that, on August 25, 2016, he was issued an RVR for
possession of a green leafy substance, thought to be
marijuana. He claims that he was innocent and that a
corrections officer planted the contraband.
this RVR, a hearing was held, Timmons contends, on September
7, 2016. According to the pleadings, Brooks and Wesley
“denied access [sic] and presentation of evidence at
the hearing.” (Compl. at 3). Particularly, Timmons
maintains that camera evidence was not allowed, even though
it would have demonstrated his innocence. Brooks and Wesley
also allegedly did not record the hearing, ignored the fact
that the RVR was incomplete and contained conflicting
details, and allowed a time lapse of more than seven days
between the alleged violation and the hearing date, all in
contravention of MDOC policy. The hearing officers found
Timmons guilty and punished him with a loss of privileges and
ninety days of meritorious earned time credits.
then appealed the RVR conviction to Warden Ladner. He
affirmed the guilty finding, despite the alleged defects
filed this Complaint on December 28, 2016, invoking §
1983. Timmons asserts claims for violations of due process,
and he seeks removal of the RVR from his record, recovery of
court costs and fees, and “any other relief” the
Court deems just. Id.
Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, applies to prisoners
proceeding in forma pauperis in this Court. One of
the provisions reads, “the court shall dismiss the case
at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . .
. (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The statute
“accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a
claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but
also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the
complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims
whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.”
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992).
“[I]n an action proceeding under [28 U.S.C. §
1915, a federal court] may consider, sua sponte, affirmative
defenses that are apparent from the record even where they
have not been addressed or raised.” Ali v.
Higgs, 892 F.2d 438, 440 (5th Cir. 1990).
“Significantly, the court is authorized to test the
proceeding for frivolousness or maliciousness even before
service of process or before the filing of the answer.”
Id. The Court has permitted Timmons to proceed
in forma pauperis in this action. The Complaint is
subject to sua sponte dismissal under § 1915.
brings this action, under § 1983, claiming violations of
due process in his disciplinary proceedings, which resulted
in a loss of earned time credits.
§ 1983 claim that challenges the fact or duration of a
State conviction or sentence “is barred (absent prior
invalidation) . . . if success in that action would
necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its
duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,
81-82 (2005). In such a case, “a § 1983 plaintiff
must prove 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 a
determination, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.”
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994).
“A ‘conviction, ' for purposes of
Heck, includes a ruling in a prison disciplinary
proceeding that results in a change to the prisoner's
sentence, including the loss of good-time credits.”
Clarke v. Stalder, 154 F.3d 186, 189 (5th Cir.
1998). Where success on the § 1983 claim “will not
necessarily imply the invalidity of confinement or shorten
its duration, ” then the action may proceed.
Wilkinson, 544 U.S. at 82.
Supreme Court examined a similar case in Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997). There, the prisoner
challenged a prison disciplinary proceeding which resulted in
the loss of 30 days of good time credit. Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 644 (1997). The prisoner claimed
that the hearing was procedurally defective because he
“was completely denied the opportunity to put on a
defense through specifically identified witnesses who