United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
BRUCE W. GLOVER, Plaintiff,
HENDERSON COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT, Defendant.
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 5).
Plaintiff Bruce W. Glover is a prisoner of the State of North
Carolina, currently incarcerated at Mountain View
Correctional Center in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. The North
Carolina Department of Public Safety website indicates that
Plaintiff was convicted of being a habitual felon in
Henderson County, North Carolina, on September 20, 2017.
filed this action on April 23, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, naming as the sole Defendant the
“Henderson County Sheriff Department.” In the
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on August 16, 2017, unnamed
officers with the Henderson County Sheriff's Department
conducted an illegal search of Plaintiff's residence,
where they found drugs, and Plaintiff was later wrongly
convicted on drug charges. Plaintiff seeks damages against
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must
review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to
dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or
malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore,
§ 1915A requires an initial review of a “complaint
in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental
entity, ” and the court must identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the
Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). Furthermore, a
pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the liberal
construction requirement will not permit a district court to
ignore a clear failure to allege facts which set forth a
claim that is cognizable under federal law. Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the United
States Supreme Court held as follows:
[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
plaintiffs 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.
Id at 486-87 (footnotes omitted; emphasis added).
Here, given the allegations in the Complaint, a judgment in
Plaintiff s favor would necessarily imply the invalidity of
his conviction or sentence.
has not alleged, however, that his underlying conviction has
been reversed or otherwise invalidated. Therefore, his claims
are barred by Heck. The Court further finds, in any
event, that the “Henderson County Sheriff
Department” is not a “person” and is
therefore not subject to suit under Section 1983. See
Gibson v. Harrison, No. 5:15-CT-3055-FL, 2017 WL
4126980, at *7 (E.D. N.C. Sept. 18, 2017) (citing cases).
Thus, even if the action were not barred by Heck, it
would be subject to dismissal for this additional reason.