United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
RAYMOND R. JENNINGS, Plaintiff,
JUSTIN ANDREWS, HUGH HURWITZ, ROD ROSENSTEIN, DONALD J. TRUMP, UNITED STATES PROBATION OFFICE, and SUPERIVSED RELEASE OFFICER, Defendants.
W. FLANAGAN United States District Judge.
a former federal inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil
rights action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named
Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
(1971), alleging defendants violated his rights under the Due
Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. The matter is before the court for frivolity
review of plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
1915 provides that courts shall review complaints filed by
prisoners seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
dismiss such complaints when they are frivolous, malicious,
or fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). A complaint may be found
frivolous because of either legal or factual deficiencies.
First, a complaint is frivolous where “it lacks an
arguable basis . . . in law.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Legally frivolous
claims are based on an “indisputably meritless legal
theory” and include “claims of infringement of a
legal interest which clearly does not exist.” Adams
v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327). Under this standard,
complaints may be dismissed for failure to state a claim
cognizable in law, although frivolity is a more lenient
standard than that for failure to state a claim under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Neitzke, 490 U.S.
at 328. Second, a complaint may be frivolous where it
“lacks an arguable basis . . . in fact.”
Id. at 325. Section 1915 permits federal courts
“to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual
allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual
contentions are clearly baseless.” See Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992) (citing
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327).
plaintiff's complaint challenges his judgment of
conviction and the execution of his sentence. On October 31,
2018, the United States District Court for the Middle
District of North Carolina determined petitioner violated the
terms of his supervised release and sentenced petitioner to
13 months' imprisonment and six months' supervised
release. United States v. Jennings, No.
1:17-CR-161-CCE-1 (M.D. N.C. Oct. 31, 2018). Plaintiff's
complaint alleges he is “unlawful[ly]
incarcerat[ed]” because federal prosecutors and the
Middle District of North Carolina violated his due process
rights during the revocation proceedings. (Compl. (DE 1)
§ V). Plaintiff further alleges that he is eligible for
immediate release because the First Step Act of 2018 mandates
recalculation of his good conduct sentencing credits and
requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to
place plaintiff in home confinement.
recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction
or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid,
the plaintiff must show that the underlying conviction has
been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal, 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). The
Supreme Court later clarified that Section 1983 actions are
barred, no matter the relief sought, “if success in
that action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of
confinement or duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson,
544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005). In Wilkinson, the Court
emphasized that habeas corpus was the exclusive remedy for
state prisoners who “seek to invalidate the duration of
their confinement-either directly through an injunction
compelling speedier release or indirectly through a judicial
determination that necessarily implies the unlawfulness of
the State's custody.” Id. at 81-82.
claims alleging the Middle District of North Carolina
“unlawfully” sentenced him to a term of
imprisonment would necessarily call into question the
validity of plaintiff's conviction and sentence.
Similarly, plaintiff's claim that the BOP failed to award
him good conduct sentencing credits would “demonstrate
the invalidity of” the duration of plaintiff's
confinement. See Neff v. MCI-H, 99 Fed.Appx. 479,
480 (4th Cir. 2004) (affirming dismissal of civil rights
claim challenging miscalculated release date as
Heck-barred); see also Clemente v. Allen,
120 F.3d 703, 704 (7th Cir. 1997) (per curiam). And where
plaintiff has not demonstrated the revocation judgment has
been reversed on direct appeal or otherwise called into
question by issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, these claims
are not presently cognizable in a Bivens action.
See Wilkinson, 544 U.S. at 81-82.
without deciding that plaintiff's claim that the BOP is
“required” to place him on home confinement is
not Heck-barred and is otherwise cognizable under
Bivens, the claim fails on the merits. The First
Step Act amended 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(2) to provide:
Home confinement authority. - The authority under this
subsection may be used to place a prisoner in home
confinement for the shorter of 10 percent of the term of
imprisonment of that prisoner or 6 months. The Bureau of
Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, place prisoners
with lower risk levels and lower needs on home confinement
for the maximum amount of time permitted under this
18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(2); First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L.
No. 115-391, § 602, 132 Stat. 5194, 5238. This provision
states that the BOP shall place certain prisoners on home
confinement “to the extent practicable” for the
maximum time allotted. Thus, contrary to plaintiffs claim,
the First Step Act does not “require” the BOP to
place him on home confinement. See also United States v.
Lowe, No. 1:15-CR-11-1, 2019 WL 3858603, at *2 (M.D.
N.C. Aug. 16, 2019).
on foregoing, the court DISMISSES this action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). Petitioner's claims are
dismissed without ...