United States District Court, D. Nevada
TODD M. HONEYCUTT, Plaintiff,
CONNIE BISBEE et al., Defendants.
C. JONES United States District Judge
a prisoner civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The Court now screens the Complaint under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Todd Honeycutt is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada
Department of Corrections. He alleges that the members of the
Nevada Parole Board (“the Board”) have violated
his due process rights by considering the wrong report at his
parole hearing and failing to hold a new hearing with a
corrected report in accordance with state regulations, and
that they violated his equal protection rights by treating
him (a sex offender) differently from non-sex offenders under
an unofficial policy.
courts must screen cases in which a prisoner seeks redress
from a governmental entity or its officers or employees. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). A court must identify any cognizable
claims and must dismiss claims that are frivolous, malicious,
insufficiently pled, or directed against immune defendants.
See Id. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). Pleading standards
are governed by Rule 12(b)(6). Wilhelm v. Rotman,
680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012). When a court dismisses a
complaint upon screening, the plaintiff should be given leave
to amend the complaint with directions as to curing its
deficiencies, unless it is clear from the face of the
complaint that the deficiencies could not be cured by
amendment. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106
(9th Cir. 1995).
board members “are entitled to absolute quasi-judicial
immunity for decisions to grant, deny, or revoke parole
because these tasks are functionally comparable to tasks
performed by judges.” Swift v. California, 384
F.3d 1184, 1189 (9th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Section 1983 claims based on parole determinations
are categorically barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477 (1994) unless and until the determination is
overturned via writ of habeas corpus. Butterfield v.
Bail, 120 F.3d 1023, 1024-25 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing
Elliott v. United States, 572 F.2d 238, 239 (9th
Cir. 1978)). If the only thing a plaintiff seeks, however, is
a hearing free from constitutional infirmity, and not a
favorable decision, i.e., not any relief that will
necessarily affect the length of his confinement, he may
(indeed must) bring the claim under § 1983 as opposed to
habeas corpus. See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,
limiting Plaintiff's claims here, the Court must dismiss
them. As for the due process claim, there is no cognizable
liberty interest in parole in Nevada, so no process is
constitutionally due. Moor v. Palmer, 603 F.3d 658,
662 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Severance v. Armstrong,
620 P.2d 369, 370 (Nev. 1980)). As for the equal protection
claim, there is no fundamental right at stake, see
id., and the distinction the state has allegedly drawn
(sex offenders versus non-sex offenders) does not implicate
any suspect or quasi-suspect category of persons, so rational
basis review applies. Under rational basis review, a court
does not judge the perceived wisdom or fairness of a law, nor
does it examine the actual rationale for the law when
adopted; it asks only whether “there is any reasonably
conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational
basis for the classification.” Heller v. Doe,
509 U.S. 312, 319-20 (1993) (quoting FCC v. Beach
Commc'ns, Inc., 508 U.S. 307, 313 (1993)). The Court
agrees with other courts that have found a rational basis for
treating sex offenders differently from non-sex offenders in
the parole context due to concerns of community safety and
recidivism. See, e.g., Gale v. Moore, 763
F.2d 341, 343-44 (8th Cir. 1985); Juarez v. Renico,
149 F.Supp.2d 319, 325 (N.D. Mich. 2001). The Court of
Appeals has noted that in some contexts there is a rational
basis for a state to distinguish not only between sex
offenders and non-sex offenders, but even between very fine
gradations of sex offenders such as those guilty of oral
copulation versus sexual intercourse with minors. Jones
v. Solis, 121 Fed.Appx. 228, 229-230 & n.2 (9th Cir.
Feb. 2, 2005).
amendment of either claim would be futile, the Court will not
give leave to amend. There is no set of facts that will give
Plaintiff a liberty interest in parole in Nevada, and there
is no set of facts that will negate the rational basis
Defendants have to treat sex offenders and non-sex offenders
differently for the purposes of parole.
HEREBY ORDERED that the Clerk shall DETACH and FILE the
Complaint (ECF No. 1-1).
FURTHER ORDERED that the Complaint is DISMISSED, without
leave to amend.
FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma