The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODY
Roy Stocker, a pro se prisoner, is suing his criminal defense counsel ["defense counsel"] and various state officials ["state officials"] under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for allegedly (i) conspiring to convict him and (ii) conspiring to cause a government forfeiture of property owned by his wife. Before me are a motion for summary judgment by defense counsel and a motion to dismiss
by the state officials. Both motions ask that I dismiss Stocker's challenge to his conviction under the 1994 United States Supreme Court decision in Heck v. Humphrey, and that I dismiss Stocker's claim on behalf of his wife's interest in the forfeited property for failure to meet his burden to prove standing. I will grant the motions of both sets of defendants.
In June 1989, a grand jury indicted Roy Stocker for the manufacture and distribution of a controlled substance. Attorney Andrew Hood entered his appearance on behalf of Stocker in January 1990. In March 1990, Hood withdrew as Stocker's counsel. In May 1990, Stocker, represented by other counsel, was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Stocker's post-trial motions were denied, and subsequent state court appeals were unsuccessful. See Commonwealth v. Stocker, No. 6707-89 (Bucks County Ct. C.P., Criminal Div., Nov. 26, 1991); see also Docket, No. 6707-89 (Bucks County Ct. C.P., Criminal Div.).
In September 1989, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania commenced a forfeiture action in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, pursuant to the Controlled Substances Forfeiture Act, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6801 (1995), against property owned by Stocker's wife which was thought to be proceeds of Stocker's illegal activities. Commonwealth v. Purpart No. 1, 4.628 Acres, No. 132 Misc. Civil 1989 (Monroe County Ct. C.P.). Stocker's wife, represented by Attorney Andrew Hood, entered an agreement with the state to pay $ 200,000 in exchange for the right to keep her property. See Docket, No. 132 Misc. Civil 1989 (Monroe County Ct. C.P.). Attorney Hood withdrew from the case in April 1990, following which Stocker's wife filed a petition to reopen the case. Id. Her petition was denied, and she was unsuccessful on appeal. Id. She failed to pay the state $ 200,000, and her property was forfeited to the government. Id. A subsequent § 1983 action in federal court was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Rifkin v. Pennsylvania Att'y Gen.'s Office, No. 93-1375 (M.D. Pa. July 29, 1994), aff'd, 54 F.3d 769 (Table) (3d Cir. 1995).
II. CONSPIRACY TO CONVICT PLAINTIFF
Stocker claims that he was convicted because of an unlawful conspiracy between his defense counsel and various state officials from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, and that he is therefore entitled to damages under § 1983. Defendants argue that plaintiff's claim fails under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383, 114 S. Ct. 2364 (1994),
Stocker's claim meets all of the criteria required for application of Heck. His state court conviction has never been reversed or declared invalid, and in fact it has been upheld on appeal. (1/9/95 Tr. at 7; Pl.'s 1/17/95 Letter to Court). Also, a judgment in Stocker's favor would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction, because he is alleging that his conviction was the product of an unconstitutional conspiracy between his defense counsel and the government. See Williams v. Hill, 316 U.S. App. D.C. 78, 74 F.3d 1339 (D.C. Cir. 1996); Abella v. Rubino, 63 F.3d 1063 (11th Cir. 1995). Were Stocker to succeed, the result would be a direct conflict between a state court judgment of conviction and a federal judgment that the conviction was flawed - exactly what the Supreme Court intended to proscribe in Heck. 114 S. Ct. at 2371. Stocker's claim on the conspiracy to convict must be dismissed.
III. CONSPIRACY TO CAUSE THE FORFEITURE
Stocker is also challenging the constitutionality of forfeiture proceedings instituted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania against property owned by Stocker's wife. Defendants argue that Stocker has not met ...