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Haywood v. Hathaway

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

November 29, 2016

Seyon R. Haywood, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Jody Hathaway, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued October 30, 2013

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 3:09-cv-00807-MJR-SCW - Michael J. Reagan, Chief Judge.

          Before Easterbrook, Ripple, and Williams, Circuit Judges.

          PER CURIAM.

         Seyon Haywood, formerly an inmate at Illi-nois's Shawnee Correctional Center, accused his auto mechanics teacher of attacking him. Guards charged him with making false statements. A disciplinary panel found him guilty and ordered him transferred to segregation for two months; the panel also revoked one month of good-time credit. After these events he was transferred to a different prison, where he remains in custody.

         Haywood contends in this proceeding under 42 U.S.C. §1983 that these penalties violate his right to speech, protected by the Constitution's First Amendment (applied to states by the Fourteenth). He also alleges that the conditions of his confinement in segregation were cruel and unusual, violating the Eighth Amendment (again applied via the Fourteenth). The district court dismissed the first claim on the pleadings and granted summary judgment to defendants on the second. The only defendant against whom Haywood still seeks damages is Jody Hathaway, Shawnee's Warden during Haywood's time there.

         The district court dismissed the First Amendment claim because the disciplinary panel's decision, which affected the duration of Haywood's confinement, had not been set aside on collateral review or by executive clemency. The Supreme Court held in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), that §1983 cannot be used to seek damages when relief necessarily implies the invalidity of a criminal conviction that remains in force. Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997), extends this approach to prison discipline. Haywood offers two responses: first, that his good-time credits have now been restored, and, second, that he has waived any challenge to the duration of his confinement and therefore (he contends) should be allowed to seek damages.

         Although Haywood maintains that his good-time credits were restored while this appeal has been pending, the forms that Haywood has submitted show only the Department of Corrections's calculation of his projected release date, not whether the disciplinary board's decision has been vacated in the manner Heck and Edwards require. At all events, things that happen after a district court's decision do not demonstrate that the court erred. Heck and Edwards hold that a §1983 claim does not accrue until the conviction or discipline had been set aside. Once that occurs, the prisoner has the time allowed by the statute of limitations (two years in Illinois) to commence suit. A dismissal under Heck and Edwards is without prejudice to litigation after a conviction or disciplinary sanction is annulled.

         As for his waiver of any challenge to the duration of confinement: that's irrelevant because no matter what a prisoner demands, or waives, §1983 cannot be used to contest the fact or duration of confinement. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973). From its outset, this suit has been a quest for money damages. That's not all. The holding of Heck and Edwards is that a claim under §1983 does not accrue as long as it would imply the invalidity of a conviction or disciplinary sanction that affects the duration of custody. If the claim has not accrued, it cannot matter what relief a prisoner seeks. Yet if it is possible to seek damages while waiving other relief, this must mean that the claim accrues immediately and the statute of limitations runs from the time of the events said to be wrongful. That would surprise the many prisoners who wait patiently until they are entitled to sue under Heck, for if Haywood is right the time to do so could have expired.

         Haywood relies on Peralta v. Vasquez, 467 F.3d 98 (2d Cir. 2006), which held that a prisoner who foreswears any contest to the length of his confinement may use §1983 to seek damages. The Second Circuit understood "the purpose of the Heck favorable termination requirement [to be] to prevent prison- ers from using §1983 to vitiate collaterally a judicial or administrative decision that affected the overall length of their confinement". 467 F.3d at 104. To disavow any collateral attack on the conviction or revocation of good-time credits is to take the situation outside Heck, the court concluded. We do not agree with that conclusion, which no other circuit has adopted (though none has expressly rejected it, either).

         Heck and Edwards say that a challenge is not possible as long as it is inconsistent with the validity of a conviction or disciplinary sanction. See also Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U.S. 637, 646 (2004): "a §1983 suit for damages that would 'necessarily imply' the invalidity of the fact of an inmate's conviction, or 'necessarily imply' the invalidity of the length of an inmate's sentence, is not cognizable under §1983 unless and until the inmate obtains favorable termination of a state, or federal habeas, challenge to his conviction or sentence." This is a version of issue preclusion (collateral estoppel), under which the outstanding criminal judgment or disciplinary sanction, as long as it stands, blocks any inconsistent civil judgment. See Simpson v. Nickel, 450 F.3d 303 (7th Cir. 2006); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607 (7th Cir. 2000); Can v. O'Leary, 167 F.3d 1124 (7th Cir. 1999). It is a rationale considerably different from the one that Peralta attributed to the Court.

         In Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 392 (2007), the Justices emphasized another of Heck's rationales:

[Heck] analogized [the §1983] suit to one for malidous prosecution, an element of which is the favorable termination of criminal proceedings. [512 U.S.] at 484. We said:
"[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 ...

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