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Blunt v. Weill

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

January 31, 2019




         This matter is before the Court, sua sponte, for consideration of dismissal. Plaintiff Charlie Blunt, an inmate of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP), Parchman, Mississippi, brings this pro se Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See Order [7]. The named Defendants are Jeffery A. Weill, Sr., Circuit Court Judge; Robert S. Smith, District Attorney; Zack Wallace, Hinds County Circuit Court Clerk; Barbara Dunn, Hinds County Circuit Court Clerk; Aafram Y. Sellers, Attorney-at-Law; Brice R. White, Attorney-at-Law; Jim Hood, Attorney General for the State of Mississippi; and Phil Bryant, Governor of the State of Mississippi. See Compl. [1] at 7. As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief. Id. at 4. The Court having liberally construed Plaintiff's Complaint [1] and in consideration of the applicable law finds that this case should be dismissed.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff brings this § 1983 civil action asserting that he has been unlawfully sentenced as a habitual offender to life without parole, probation, or the ability to earn good time credits. Compl. [1] at 9. Plaintiff argues that he has only one prior conviction that qualifies as a crime of violence. Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff states that at his sentencing on April 7, 2011, he notified Defendants Judge Weill, District Attorney Smith, Attorney White, and Attorney Sellers that his previous conviction for simple assault could not be used to sentence him as a habitual offender. Id. at 9. Because additional paperwork was necessary to determine if Plaintiff's previous convictions qualified Plaintiff to be sentenced as a habitual, the District Attorney requested a continuance that was granted. Id. At Plaintiff's sentencing on April 15, 2011, information concerning Plaintiff's previous conviction was presented to the sentencing court. Id. Plaintiff contends that Defendants Judge Weill and District Attorney Smith violated Plaintiff's due process rights because they ignored the evidence and sentenced Plaintiff as a habitual even though his previous conviction did not qualify for such a conviction and sentence. Id.

         According to Plaintiff's Complaint, Defendants Sellers and White were Plaintiff's court appointment attorneys. Compl. [1] at 5, 7. Plaintiff complains that Defendants Sellers and White have failed (1) to do anything about Plaintiff being unlawfully sentenced as a habitual offender as well as (2) to “notify anyone of Defendant Jeffery A. Weill[‘s] [] illegal actions on April 15, 2011, ” at Plaintiff's sentencing. Id. at 12.

         Plaintiff contends that he requested an opinion concerning his habitual sentence from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office. Compl. [1] at 10. The response Plaintiff received from Defendant Attorney General Hood's Office on September 20, 2012, was “they can neither admit nor deny and for the lack of information or knowledge and therefore must deny.” Id.

         Plaintiff claims that while Defendants Dunn and Wallace have filed Plaintiff's numerous motions to vacate his habitual sentence Defendants Dunn and Wallace have failed to report Plaintiff's due process deprivation committed by Defendants Judge Weill. Compl. [1] at 12.

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Bryant, Governor of Mississippi, has failed to address Plaintiff's three separate clemency applications. Compl. [1] at 12.

         II. Analysis

         The in forma pauperis statute mandates dismissal “at any time” if the Court determines an action “is frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B)(i)!(iii). Because Plaintiff is proceeding as a pauper, § 1915(e)(2) applies to this case.

         The United States Supreme Court has held that a “prisoner in state custody cannot use a § 1983 action to challenge ‘the fact or duration of his confinement.'” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 78 (2005) (quoting Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 489 (1973)). Moreover, in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the United States Supreme Court held that a claim for monetary damages as well as a claim for declaratory and injunctive relief which essentially challenges the plaintiff's conviction or imprisonment is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983:

[I]n 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 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, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983. Thus, when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. But if the district court determines that the plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed, in the absence of some other bar to the suit.

Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87 (footnotes omitted) (emphasis added); see also Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 284-85 (5th Cir. 1994).

         If Plaintiff is successful in this § 1983 action, it would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction and sentence. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984) (when the attorney representing a criminal defendant fails to provide effective assistance, the criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment right has been violated). Since this ยง 1983 action calls into question the validity of Plaintiff's conviction and sentence and because Plaintiff does not establish that his conviction and sentence have been ...

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