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Brown v. Gee

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

December 8, 2017

ANTWUAN BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF DAVID GEE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          STEVEN D. MERRYDAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Brown's complaint alleges that the defendants violated his civil rights “through coercion of a confession based on the false promised benefits of leniency.” (Doc. 1 at 5) Brown neither moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis nor paid the full $400 filing fee. Nevertheless, under either 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (if proceeding in forma pauperis) or 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (if the full filing fee is paid), a district court is required both to review the complaint and to dismiss the complaint if frivolous, malicious, or failing to state a claim upon “which relief may be granted.” Although the complaint is entitled to a generous interpretation, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972) (per curiam), this pro se complaint lacks merit under this standard.

         Brown represents that November 14, 2013, he was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual battery on a child over twelve but under eighteen.[*] Brown alleges that the defendant police officers promised him a four-part deal if he would confess:

To overcome the Plaintiff's free will the defendants promised the Plaintiff Antwaun Brown a four part deal which was (1) the deal not to prosecute him and release him if he admitted to the sexual assault of the child and enroll into a sexual abuse treatment center. (2) To enroll into a alcohol treatment program. (3) To call the victim's mother and confess to having an affair with her daughter and submit to a DNA test. (4) To have no contact with the victim and no other minors without their parents being present.

         Brown alleges that he fulfilled his part of the agreement but, after he confessed to the victim's mother, the defendants nevertheless arrested and charged him for the sexual batteries.

         According to the website for the Florida Department of Corrections, Brown is imprisoned under the three sexual battery convictions. Brown's allegations directly challenge the voluntariness of his confession and, as a consequence, the validity of the convictions. Under Preiser v. Rodriquez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973), if a state prisoner challenges the fact or duration of confinement, a writ of habeas corpus is the exclusive federal remedy. Additionally, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), precludes Brown from challenging the validity of either the conviction or the sentence (including a fine or penalty) by a civil rights action instead of an application for the writ of habeas corpus:

We hold that, in order to 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, 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.

Heck requires dismissal of a civil rights complaint if a ruling in the plaintiff's favor questions the validity of the conviction or sentence. Brown has no Section 1983 claim unless he prevails on habeas corpus. “[A] § 1983 cause of action for damages attributable to an unconstitutional conviction or sentence does not accrue until the conviction or sentence has been invalidated.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. at 489-90.

         Consequently, Brown fails to state a claim for relief that he can pursue in a civil rights action because the complaint fails to allege that the conviction was “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 . . . .” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. at 487.

         As a consequence, Brown fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Amendment of the action would prove futile because Brown can state no valid Section 1983 claim for relief. See Bryant v. Dupree, 252 F.3d 1161, 1163 (11th Cir. 2001) (“A district court need not, however, allow an amendment (1) where there has been undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, or repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed; (2) where allowing amendment would cause undue prejudice to the opposing party; or (3) where amendment would be futile.”).

         Accordingly, the civil rights complaint is DISMISSED. This dismissal is without prejudice to Brown's filing a new Section 1983 action if he succeeds in vacating the conviction. The clerk must enter a judgment of dismissal against Brown and close this case.

         ORDERED.

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