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Felty v. Wedding

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division

April 19, 2017



          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff, Charles Michael Felty, filed a pro se complaint on this Court's form for prisoners bringing a civil-rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons set forth below, the action will be dismissed.


         Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated in Indiana, names as Defendants Dave Wedding, Sheriff/Jailer of the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville, Indiana; Jailer Ron Herrington, Henderson County Detention Center, Henderson, Kentucky; and Commissioner Rodney Ballard, Frankfort, Kentucky. He alleges that his “right to not be shuttled place to place after being sentenced to the Department of Corrections in Indiana” has been violated by the Vanderburgh County Jail and every jail he has been sent to since. He states that he was sent to Daviess County Detention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky, on January 27, 2016, to face an active warrant for pending charges. He states that he was then released on an unsecured bond and sent to Henderson County, Kentucky, to face warrants for more charges. He alleges:

I had my lawyer contact the prosecutor in Evansville, who subsequently put a hold (detainer) on me for ‘failure to appear' on the cases I was already sentenced on . . . which is still active. This also caused a plea agreement in Henderson to get me sent to a long-term rehab for drug addiction (which Vanderburgh also said I needed) to be taken from me, since I could not be released to it due to the hold out of Vanderburgh County for the “failure to appear.”

         Plaintiff also alleges:

This also caused me to get my rights into not being under duress to take a plea violated. My lawyer had a 5 yr. K.D.O.C. plea in Henderson ready, but I was so scared that I needed to get back to Indiana so the courts or I.D.O.C. didn't screw me. I had to take double the amount of time - 10yrs K.D.O.C. - to get shocked out in 6 months to my detainer in Vanderburgh County because they said going to K.D.O.C. I'm not guaranteed parole to get back over there. And I didn't know if my detainer would affect me getting that parole (because I have never done D.O.C. time in Kentucky) and the only way they would guarantee it was to take the 10 yr max on a T.B.O.T. charge and get “shocked” out in 6 months.

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that his rights have been “violated by this jail by not offering me any sort of law library to help myself in this matter.”

         As relief, Plaintiff asks for monetary and punitive damages, for incarcerated-time credit in both states, and for removal of the “hold” on him “in Indiana and/or give me time-credit for classes I have taken here.”

         Plaintiff attaches to the complaint a letter from an attorney; a grievance Plaintiff filed with HCDC; correspondence from the Roederer Correctional Complex regarding possible shock probation; and a copy of a letter from Plaintiff to Commissioner Ballard.

         II. ANALYSIS

         When a prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the action, if the Court determines that it is frivolous or 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. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). 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. Id. at 327. When determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         Most of Plaintiff's allegations have to do with the fact or duration of his confinement. For example, Plaintiff complains of having to take a ten-year plea deal instead of a five-year deal. A challenge to the fact or duration of confinement should be brought as a petition for habeas corpus and is not the proper subject of a civil-rights action brought pursuant to § 1983. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484 (1973) (noting that the essence of habeas corpus is an attack by a person in custody upon the legality of that custody and the traditional function of the writ is to secure release from illegal custody). Thus, Plaintiff fails to state a § 1983 claim regarding the fact or duration of his custody.

         Nor does Plaintiff state a § 1983 claim simply because he has been transferred between penal institutions. “In a § 1983 action, the plaintiff must demonstrate a deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States caused by a person acting under color of state law.” Westmoreland v. Sutherland, 662 F.3d 714, 718 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)). “An inmate has no justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in any particular prison . . . .” Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245 (1983); see also Moody v. Daggett, ...

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