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Taylor v. Denker

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 11, 2017

AARON TAYLOR, Plaintiff
v.
DISTRICT JUDGE JAMES A. DENKER, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         On January 3, 2017, Plaintiff Aaron Taylor ("Plaintiff"), a former inmate housed at the Dauphin County Prison, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, [1] initiated this civil rights action pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging his underlying criminal case. (Doc. 1). At the same time he filed the complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). An initial screening of the complaint has been conducted, and for the reasons set forth below, the motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted, and the complaint will be dismissed.

         I. Screening Provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (April 26, 1996), authorizes a district court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), [2] 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[3] The Court is required to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). This initial screening is to be done as soon as practicable and need not await service of process. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         II. Background

         In this civil rights action, Plaintiff challenges his underlying criminal proceedings from the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that he was not afforded a fair criminal trial, he did not receive a "payment determination hearing, " he was incarcerated without bail and without mental health treatment, the District Judge had "no rights" to commit him, and his caseworker did not provide support during his incarceration. [Id. at pp. 2-3).

         For relief, Plaintiff seeks release from the Dauphin County Prison, release of his car from the Pennsylvania State Police, and monetary relief. (Id. at p. 3).

         III. Discussion

         When seeking to impose liability due to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, the appropriate remedy is a civil rights action. See Learner v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d Cir. 2002). However, when a prisoner challenges either the fact or duration of his confinement, the appropriate remedy is a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 45, 494 (1973); Tedford v. Hepting, 990 F.2d 745, 748 (3d Cir. 1993). "The underlying purpose of proceedings under the 'Great Writ' of habeas corpus has traditionally been to 'inquire into the legality of the detention, and the only judicial relief authorized was the discharge of the prisoner or his admission to bail, and that only if his detention were found to be unlawful.'" Learner, 288 F.3d at 540 (quoting Powers of Congress and the Court Regarding the Availability and Scope of Review, 114 Harv.LRev. 1551, 1553(2001)).

         Careful review of the complaint reveals that Plaintiff does not seek relief based on the deprivation of certain rights and privileges. Rather, he seeks immediate release from custody and challenges the legality of his incarceration. It is well-settled that prisoners cannot use § 1983 to challenge the fact or duration of their confinement or to seek immediate or speedier release. See Preiser, 411 U.S. 475. Because Plaintiff is seeking immediate release from custody and challenging the legality of his incarceration, the appropriate remedy is a petition for writ of habeas corpus. See Learner, 288 F.3d at 540 (federal habeas corpus review is available where the deprivation of rights "impacts the fact or length of detention"). Consequently, the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice to any right Plaintiff may have to reassert his present claims in a properly filed habeas petition.[4] See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81 (2005) (stating that inmates should use habeas corpus when they seek to invalidate the duration of confinement directly or indirectly).

         IV. Conclusion

         For the reasons set forth above, the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice. A separate order shall issue.

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