United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
O. HICKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
currently an inmate of the Varner Unit of the Arkansas
Department of Correction, has filed a civil rights action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and
in forma pauperis. The case is before the Court for
preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Pursuant
to the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen any complaint
in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity,
officer, or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
alleges that Defendants, who are all assigned to the 13th
Judicial Drug Task Force, illegally used a wiretap to
intercept conversations about two drug transactions. (ECF No.
5). The information obtained in the wiretap was used to
obtain a warrant to search the Plaintiff's residence.
(Id.). Plaintiff was then convicted with the
evidence derived from these allegedly unlawful searches.
(Id.). Plaintiff was subsequently sentenced to 154
years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
relief, Plaintiff seeks an order declaring that the
Defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Plaintiff also seeks “general damages”
and punitive damages.
the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen the case prior to
service of process being issued. The Court must dismiss a
complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that:
(1) are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or, (2) seek monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in
law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted if it does not allege “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). “In evaluating whether a pro
se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a
claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded ... to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Jackson
v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).
Heck v. Humphrey, the Supreme Court held that a
claim for damages for “allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by
actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or
sentence invalid” is not cognizable until “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.” 512 U.S. 486-87 (1994). “[W]hen 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.”
Id. at 487. However, “some section 1983
actions, ‘even if successful, will not
demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal
judgment' against a plaintiff and should be allowed to
proceed.” Moore v. Sims, 200 F.3d 1170, 1171
(8th Cir. 2000) (quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 487 n.7).
case, Plaintiff seeks not only money damages stemming from
the alleged unconstitutional wiretap but also a declaration
that Defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Further, Plaintiff contends that all evidence used to
convict him was obtained illegally. Consequently, the success
of the Plaintiff's claims would necessarily call his
conviction into question. Therefore, Plaintiff's claims
may not proceed. See, e.g., Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 648 (1997) (applying
Heck in § 1983 suit seeking declaratory relief
and money damages).
claims are barred by Heck. Therefore, this case is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.