United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. MARIANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Report and Recommendation
("R&R") (Doc. 9) by Magistrate Judge Susan
Schwab issued subsequent to the required screening of Jozsef
Gyetvai's Civil Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Magistrate Judge Schwab recommends that Mr.
Gyetvai's complaint be dismissed and the case file be
closed for the following reasons: he improperly seeks release
from custody in this civil rights action; he failed to state
a Sixth Amendment claim upon which relief can be granted
based on the factual averments contained in the complaint;
and, even if he properly pled a Sixth Amendment claim based
on the right to counsel, the claim would be barred by the
favorable termination rule of Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477 (1994). (Doc. 9 at 6-13).
Gyetvai also filed three motions to amend his complaint
(Docs. 12, 15, 16) after Magistrate Judge Schwab issued the
R&R under consideration. Because these motions are
impacted by the analysis contained in the R&R and the
Court's decision to adopt it, the Court will also address
the pending motions to amend.
Report and Recommendation
response to the R&R, Mr. Gyetvai filed a document titled
"Motion: Objection to the Report and Recommendation and
Leave for Appeal" (Doc. 11). The Court construes this
document as a timely-filed response to the R&R.
District Court may "designate a magistrate judge to
conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to
submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for the disposition" of certain matters
pending before the Court. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). If a
party timely and properly files a written objection to a
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, the
District Court "shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made." Id. at § 636(b)(1)(C); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); M.D. Pa. Local Rule 72.3;
Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011).
The de novo standard applies only to objections
which are both timely and specific. Goney v. Clark,
749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984). "If a party does not
object timely to a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, the party may lose its right to de
novo review by the district court." EEOC v.
City of Long Branch, 866 F.3d 93, 99-100 (3d Cir. 2017).
However, "because a district court must take some action
for a report and recommendation to become a final order and
because the authority and the responsibility to make an
informed, final determination remains with the judge, even
absent objections to the report and recommendation, a
district court should afford some level of review to
dispositive legal issues raised by the report."
Id. at 100 (internal citations and quotation marks
omitted). The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
described the appropriate level of review as
"'reasoned consideration."' Id.
(quoting Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d
Court concludes that Mr. Gyetvai's objections lack the
specificity required by Goney, 749 F.2d at 6-7, and
therefore, the Court will conduct the required "reasoned
consideration" review. Before doing so, the Court notes
that, without reference to findings made or facts set out in
the R&R, Mr. Gyetvai's filing consists of
thirty-eight numbered paragraphs asserting alleged facts or
legal conclusions regarding his arrest, conviction, and
Judge Schwab correctly concludes that Mr. Gyetvai's
request for release from custody is properly raised in a
habeas corpus action. (Doc. 9 at 6-7.) As succinctly set out
in Forrest v. Sauers, Civ. A. No. 3:13-CV-0067, 2013
WL 3097569 (M.D. Pa. June 18, 2018),
Federal law provides two main avenues of relief to
incarcerated persons: a petition for habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, and a civil rights complaint, 42 U.S.C. §
1983. See Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750, 124
S.Ct. 1303, 1304, 158 L.Ed.2d 32 (2004) (per curiam).
"Although both § 1983 and habeas corpus allow
prisoners to challenge unconstitutional conduct by state
officers, the two are not coextensive either in purpose or
effect." Learner v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540
(3d Cir.2002). "Challenges to the validity of any
confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the
province of habeas corpus, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 500, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973); requests
for relief turning on circumstances of confinement may be
presented in a § 1983 action." Muhammad,
540 U.S. at 750, 124 S.Ct. at 1304. "[W]hen the
challenge is to a condition of confinement such that a
finding in plaintiffs favor would not alter his sentence or
undo his conviction, an action under § 1983 is
appropriate." Learner, 288 F.3d at 542. In sum,
federal habeas relief is unavailable unless the petition
attacks "the validity of the continued conviction or the
fact or length of the sentence." Learner, 288
Forrest, 2013 WL 3097569, at *2. Though Mr.
Gyetvai's initial pleading is a form Civil Complaint on
which he identified 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as the provision
the complaint was to be filed under (Doc. 1 at 1), the filing
contains vaguely articulated allegations related to the
validity of his conviction and the fact or length of his
sentence, including the following: "no evidence exists,
mandatory minimum is unconstitutional, I was not made aware
of mandatory minimum, or repeat felon." (Doc. 1 at 2.)
The numerous allegations raised in his filing in response to
the R&R further indicate that Mr. Gyetvai alleges
impropriety related to his state court conviction and/or
sentence. (Doc. 11.)
Judge Schwab also correctly concludes that Mr. Gyetvai's
Sixth Amendment right to counsel claim fails for several
reasons, chief among them that it is barred by the
favorable-termination rule of Heck, 512 U.S. at
486-87, 489. (Doc. 9 at 7-11.) After setting out the relevant
legal framework, the Magistrate Judge found that Mr.
Gyetvai's civil rights claim is not cognizable unless or
until his conviction or sentence has been ...