United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge
Court has reviewed the Findings and Recommendation filed by
United States Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris (Dkt. No.
16). Petitioner Gregory Holt has filed objections (Dkt. No.
19). After careful review of the Findings and Recommendation,
a de novo review of the record, and a review of all
of Mr. Holt's objections thereto, the Court adopts, in
part, and declines to adopt, in part, the Findings and
Recommendation (Dkt. No. 16).
Court grants Mr. Holt's motion for extension of time to
file objections (Dkt. No. 18), and the Court has considered
the objections Mr. Holt filed to the Findings and
Recommendation (Dkt. No. 19). The Court denies Mr. Holt's
motion for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary
injunction and amended motion for preliminary injunction,
temporary restraining order, and motion for emergency ex
parte relief (Dkt. Nos. 10, 17). The Court also denies
as moot the motion for extension of time to file reply to
response to motion for temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction (Dkt. No. 15)
Holt is a prisoner in the custody of the Arkansas Department
of Correction (“ADC”). Mr. Holt filed a petition
for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241, alleging that he was wrongfully convicted of a
disciplinary infraction at the ADC's Maximum Security
Unit (Dkt. No. 2). The Findings and Recommendation recommend
dismissal of Mr. Holt's petition for habeas
corpus because Mr. Holt's challenged
disciplinary infraction had no effect upon his term of
incarceration (Dkt. No. 16, at 2). Furthermore, it appears
that Judge Harris construed Mr. Holt's petition for
habeas corpus as one brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 rather than 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
objections, Mr. Holt makes the following arguments in support
of his position that his petition should not be dismissed:
(1) his petition is properly brought under 28 U.S.C. §
2241; (2) he is seeking habeas review, not filing a
civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) he
is required to seek habeas review prior to filing an
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) the Court should
interpret 28 U.S.C. § 2241 as being available to state
prisoners who make a showing of actual innocence; and (5) the
Court should overrule or distinguish Spencer v.
Haynes, 774 F.3d 467 (8th Cir. 2014), or convert his
petition to an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
the Court finds that Mr. Holt's petition is not properly
brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241; the Eighth Circuit
Court of Appeals has held that 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is the
exclusive avenue for “person[s] in custody pursuant to
the judgment of a State court” seeking habeas relief.
Crouch v. Norris, 251 F.3d 720, 723 (8th Cir. 2001)
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a)). Thus, as Mr. Holt is
incarcerated pursuant to a state court judgment, Judge Harris
correctly construed Mr. Holt's petition as brought under
28 U.S.C. § 2254.
to the extent Mr. Holt attempts to characterize the relief he
seeks as properly falling under the habeas corpus
statutes, the Court disagrees. Mr. Holt's petition seeks
relief relating to disciplinary measures taken by ADC, and
Mr. Holt does not allege or demonstrate that the sanctions
allegedly imposed upon him lengthen the duration of his
confinement. See Spencer v. Haynes, 774 F.3d 467,
469 (8th Cir. 2014) (holding that a habeas petition
is not a proper remedy for a condition-of-confinement claim).
the Court declines Mr. Holt's invitation to construe 28
U.S.C. § 2241 as providing relief to state prisoners who
make a showing of actual innocence. See Crouch, 251
F.3d at 723 (holding that § 2254 is the sole remedy for
state court prisoners seeking habeas relief).
the Court declines Mr. Holt's invitation to distinguish
or decline to follow the Eighth Circuit's decision in
Spencer v. Haynes. Accordingly, the Court concludes
that Mr. Holt has not raised cognizable issues for federal
Court does, however, note that Mr. Holt has expressed a
desire to convert his habeas petition into one for
relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Eighth Circuit has
approved a conversion of a habeas petition into an
action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of
Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 338 (1971).
Spencer, 774 F.3d at 471-72. Given this precedent,
the Court will allow Mr. Holt to file an amended complaint
alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and to convert
this action into one under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, subject to
the following directions. Mr. Holt must file an amended
complaint in this action alleging claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 within 30 days from the entry of this Order. His
failure to do so may result in the dismissal without
prejudice of this action.
Holt pursues claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has not
fully exhausted his administrative remedies in connection
with these claims before filing suit, the ADC can raise Mr.
Holt's failure to exhaust administrative remedies as an
affirmative defense. If the ADC prevails on that affirmative
defense, that affirmative defense will provide a basis for
granting summary judgment in favor of the ADC on Mr.
Holt's converted claims and dismissing without prejudice
his claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In other words, if
Mr. Holt has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies in
connection with his claims, it may not be in his best
interest to convert this action into a 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action at this time. Rather, he may wish to consider
exhausting his administrative remedies in connection with his
claims before bringing them in federal court.
if Mr. Holt elects to convert his habeas action into
a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, he must also comply with the
filing fee requirement. Every civil case filed by a prisoner
requires the plaintiff to pay a filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §
1915. A $400.00 filing fee must be paid at the beginning of
the lawsuit unless the plaintiff cannot afford to pay the
entire fee at once. If he cannot afford to pay the filing fee
in a lump sum, Mr. Holt may file a motion to proceed in
forma pauperis (“IFP”). If Mr. Holt is
granted IFP status, the filing fee is $350.00, which will be
collected in installments from his prisoner trust account.
Importantly, even if Mr. Holt's 42 U.S.C. § 1983
lawsuit is later dismissed for any reason, the Court will
continue to collect the filing fee until it has received the
full amount of $350.00 from his prisoner trust account.
therefore ordered that:
1. The Court adopts, in part, and declines to adopt, in part,
the Findings and ...