United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DON M. BATES III, Plaintiff,
KORY ZIMDARS, VICKI SEIBEL-GARVEY, CHRISTINA MINNETI, and DONNA HARRIS, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
who is incarcerated at Racine Correctional Institution
(“Racine”), filed a pro se complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights
were violated. (Docket #1). This matter comes before the
Court on Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Docket #2). Plaintiff has been assessed and
paid an initial partial filing fee of $37.86. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(4). The Court now turns to screening the
complaint pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity. Id. §
1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion
thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally
“frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
Id. § 1915A(b). A claim is legally frivolous
when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992);
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989);
Gladney v. Pendelton Corr. Facility, 302 F.3d 773,
774 (7th Cir. 2002). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327;
Gladney, 302 F.3d at 774. “Malicious, ”
although sometimes treated as a synonym for “frivolous,
” “is more usefully construed as intended to
harass.” Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107,
1109 (7th Cir. 2003); Paul v. Marberry, 658 F.3d
702, 705 (7th Cir. 2011).
state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading
system, the plaintiff is required to provide a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is
entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It is not
necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts; his
statement need only “‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the. . .claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d
879, 881 (7th Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that offers
“‘labels and conclusions'” or
“‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not do.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To state a claim, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, “‘that is plausible on its
face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The complaint
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; Christopher, 384 F.3d at 881.
considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should
first “identif[y] pleadings that, because they are no
more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal
conclusions must be supported by factual allegations.
Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
the Court must “assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.” Id.
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: (1) he was deprived of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and
(2) the deprivation was visited upon him by a person or
persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore
v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir.
2009); Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980).
The Court is obliged to give Plaintiff's pro se
allegations, “‘however inartfully pleaded,
'” a liberal construction. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
allegations primarily concern the conditions of supervised
release imposed upon him in connection with a state
conviction for a sex offense. Defendants are all employees of
the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Division of Community
Corrections (the “DCC”). Plaintiff alleges that
he was released from imprisonment into a term of extended
supervision on February 10, 2015. (Docket #1 at 1). His
supervised release status was revoked nine days later.
Id. It is not clear whether Plaintiff's present
confinement, nearly three years after the relevant events,
stems from that revocation or from some other infraction.
(Plaintiff reports that he is to be released from
imprisonment on February 13, 2018.)
complaint takes the form of a laundry list of grievances
against his supervising probation officer and the
officer's supervisors within the DCC. Plaintiff says that
Defendants imposed unwarranted and overly burdensome release
conditions, enforced those conditions in an unfair way
because of personal animus against him, and secured his
revocation based on trumped-up violations of the conditions.
The vast number of alleged unlawful acts, each tied to their
own set of relevant and irrelevant federal laws and
constitutional provisions, makes divining the viable claims
difficult. To that end, the Court finds it expedient to first
describe the legal constraints on claims like
Plaintiff's, then identify the numerous deficiencies in
the complaint, and finally set Plaintiff the task of amending
Legal Principles Governing Challenges to Supervision
Court begins by reviewing the applicable law. First, to the
extent Plaintiff seeks release from his present confinement,
such a claim must be made in a habeas petition, not a Section
1983 action. The Seventh Circuit holds that conditions of
probation are a form of custody. Drollinger v.
Milligan, 552 F.2d 1220, 1225 (7th Cir. 1977);
Williams v. Wisconsin, 336 F.3d 576, 580 (7th Cir.
2003). A challenge to those conditions is an attack on the
fact or duration of the plaintiff's confinement, which
“is the traditional function of the writ of habeas
corpus.” Drollinger, 552 F.2d at 1225.
Plaintiff has not named the prison warden or expressly sought
release, so the Court will not transform his complaint into a
habeas petition. Henderson v. Bryant, 606 F.
App'x 301, 303-04 (7th Cir. 2015). Any such claim will
have to be brought, if at all, in a separate proceeding.
Plaintiff may not proceed on a claim “for having been
recommitted based on the violation of release conditions that
he contends are unconstitutional[.]” Id. This
is so because, if he was successful, it would “vitiate
the basis for his commitment, and Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars civil damages actions where a
‘judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily
imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence.'” Id. Thus, to the extent
Plaintiff was revoked on fabricated violations of release
conditions, however unfair he may think those conditions
were, Heck bars any challenge thereto. His
opportunity to dispute the appropriateness of the conditions
and the facts underlying the alleged violations thereof was
at the revocation hearing and through whatever state appeals
or federal habeas actions may have followed; a Section 1983
damages action is no substitute. See Reilly v.
Herrera, 622 F. App'x 832, 834 (11th Cir. 2015). In
the event Plaintiff successfully overturns his revocation, he
may revisit this claim. See Henderson, 606 F.
App'x at 304.
Plaintiff cannot be allowed to seek an order preventing
future imposition of release conditions, even ones similar to
those that preceded his revocation. See Id.
“[U]nless and until they are imposed on him again, that
type of challenge is premature.” Id. Because
he is presently incarcerated, he is not subject to the
conditions and cannot challenge them at this time.
those claims set aside, the Court turns to the lone type of
claim that the Seventh Circuit in Henderson held
could survive screening in cases like Plaintiff's:
Henderson appears to seek damages for having had to endure
for three months the restrictive conditions of release (or
abusive actions of the defendants) that did not lead to his
recommitment but which he contends to have been
unconstitutional. Because a successful damages action
challenging those conditions or actions would not imply the
invalidity of his current confinement, Heck does not
bar a § 1983 claim challenging them. But these claims
face a different hurdle: insofar as they seek damages from
the defendants for enforcing release conditions that a court
specifically ordered, the defendants may be protected by
absolute quasi-judicial immunity, which would bar any
recovery. But for two reasons it is too soon to treat these
claims as blocked by absolute immunity. First, Henderson
contends that, by barring all contact with family members and
entering and searching his home at night while he slept, the
defendants enforced the court's order in an
unconstitutional manner; a claim that a defendant enforced a
court order in an unconstitutional manner is not necessarily
barred by quasi-judicial immunity. Second, the defendants
have not yet been served and so have not yet advanced any
defenses, which the district court should ordinarily consider
in the first instance. Henderson may thus proceed on this one
aspect of his case.
Id. at 304-05 (citations omitted). Thus,
Henderson teaches that a parolee may proceed only on
claims that he was subjected to conditions beyond those
authorized in the applicable criminal judgment or other valid
orders, that he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions
which did not form the basis for his revocation, or that his
probation officer imposed ...