United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Christopher C. Conner, Judge
Jack Allen Corbin (“Corbin”), an inmate currently
confined at the York County Prison, in York, Pennsylvania,
commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Doc. 1). Named as defendants are probation officer Heather
Newpher and public defender Ronald Jackson. At the same time
he filed the complaint, Corbin 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
Screening Provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform
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 USC §
1915(e)(2) 28 USC § 1915A 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 USC § 1915(e)(2)(B) 28 USC §
1915A(b) This initial screening is to be done as soon as
practicable and need not await service of process See 28 USC
claims are filed pursuant to 42 USC § 1983 Section 1983
of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private citizens
a cause of action for violations of federal law by state
officials See 42 USC § 1983 The statute provides in
pertinent part as follows:
Every person who under color of any statute ordinance
regulation custom or usage of any State or Territory or the
District of Columbia subjects or causes to be subjected any
citizen of the United States or other person within the
jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at
law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.
. . .
Id.; see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273,
284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204
(3d Cir. 1996). To state a claim under § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege “the violation of a right secured
by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must
show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person
acting under color of state law.” West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). See also Barna v.
City of Perth Amboy, 42 F.3d 809, 815 (3d Cir. 1994).
a rule, habeas petitions and § 1983 complaints are not
'coextensive either in purpose or effect.' Where a
state prisoner seeks to attack the fact or duration of his
conviction or sentence, he must seek relief through a habeas
petition, not a § 1983 complaint.” Rushing v.
Pennsylvania, 2016 WL 25579, at *2-3 (3d Cir. 2016)
(quoting Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d
Cir. 2002)); see also Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668 (1984). “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.'”
Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d Cir. 2002)
(quoting Powers of Congress and the Court Regarding the
Availability and Scope of Review, 114
Harv.L.Rev. 1551, 1553 (2001)).
sets forth claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and
challenges his arrest following a technical violation of
probation. Corbin alleges that in November 2016, he presented
to the probation office and submitted to a urine test.
(Id. at 4). Corbin tested positive for cocaine and
was arrested for a technical violation of probation.
(Id.) Corbin alleges that his due process rights
were violated because he was not afforded a detention
hearing. (Id. at 5). Corbin further claims that
public defender Jackson was ineffective for failing to object
to his alleged illegal detention. (Id. at 2). He
also states that he attempted to file two habeas petitions,
but “counsel would not let them issue.” (Doc. 1,
court finds that Corbin's claims must be brought in a
petition for writ of habeas corpus. Corbin's allegations
of ineffective assistance of counsel and the challenge to his
probation revocation are an attack on the fact of his
conviction and sentence. Consequently, Corbin must raise his
claims in a petition for writ of habeas corpus, not in a
§ 1983 civil rights complaint.
with respect to the claim that defendant Jackson provided
ineffective assistance of counsel, public defenders and
court-appointed counsel do not act under color of law for
purposes of federal civil rights litigation when acting
within the scope of their professional duties. See Polk
County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 318 n. 7 (1981);
Black v. Bayer, 672 F.2d 309, 320 (3d Cir. 1982),
abrogation on other grounds recognized in D.R. by L .R.
v. Middle Bucks Area Vocational Technical School, 972
F.2d 1364 (3d Cir. 1992). Corbin states that defendant
Jackson was his court-appointed attorney and he “did
not ask for his . . . assistance.” (Doc. 1, at 3).
Defendant Jackson was not acting under color of law and is
not a properly named defendant in this civil rights action.
See Polk, 454 U.S. at 318 (“a lawyer representing a
client is not, by virtue of being an officer of the court, a
state actor, under color of state law' within the meaning
of § 1983”).
on the foregoing, the court will dismiss Corbin's
complaint for failure to state a claim, as his claims must be
brought in a separate petition for writ of ...