United States District Court, D. Nevada
SCREENING ORDER AND REPORT AND
HOFFMAN, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
prisoner Brian Wright brings this civil-rights case under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for events that occurred during the
investigation and prosecution of a criminal case against
Wright, United States of America v. Brian Wright et
al., No. 2:14-cr-00357-APG-VCF. Wright moves to proceed
in forma pauperis. (IFP Application (ECF No. 9).)
Wright submitted the declaration required by 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a) showing an inability to prepay fees and costs or give
security for them. Wright's request to proceed in
forma pauperis therefore will be granted. The court now
screens Wright's complaint (ECF No. 1-1) as required by
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.
Screening standard for pro se prisoner claims
courts must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must
identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that
are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). In addition to the screening
requirements under § 1915A, the Prison Litigation Reform
Act requires a federal court to dismiss a prisoner's
claim if it “fails to state a claim on which relief may
be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2);
accord Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6). To state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege
“(1) the defendants acting under color of state law (2)
deprived plaintiffs of rights secured by the Constitution or
federal statutes.” Williams v. California, 764
F.3d 1002, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014) (quotation omitted).
for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)
incorporates the standard for failure to state a claim under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison v.
Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). To survive
§ 1915 review, a complaint must “contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The court
liberally construes pro se complaints and may only dismiss
them “if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can
prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would
entitle him to relief.” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762
F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678).
considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a
claim, all allegations of material fact are taken as true and
construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys. Inc.,
135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted).
Although the standard under Rule 12(b)(6) does not require
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff must provide more
than mere labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action is
insufficient. Id. Unless it is clear the
complaint's deficiencies could not be cured through
amendment, a pro se plaintiff should be given leave to amend
the complaint with notice regarding the complaint's
deficiencies. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103,
1106 (9th Cir. 1995).
Screening the amended complaint
seven claims, Wright sues defendants Kimberly Frayn,
Christopher McPeak, Christopher Aguilar, Cristina Silva, and
Lance Maningo for alleged violations of the Fourth, Fifth,
Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments that occurred during
the underlying criminal proceedings against Wright. (Compl.
(ECF No. 1-1) at 2-3, 7-13.) Wright alleges that Frayn and
Silva were the Assistant United States Attorneys who
prosecuted his case, that McPeak is an FBI agent, that
Aguilar is a Henderson Police Department officer, and that
Maningo was his defense attorney. (Id. at 2-13.)
Wright alleges the defendants, including his defense
attorney, conspired to frame him for crimes he did not
commit, resulting in various civil rights violations during
the course of the investigation and prosecution of his
criminal case. (Id.) Wright seeks $10, 000, 000 in
damages against each defendant.
§ 1983 case seeking damages alleges constitutional
violations that would necessarily imply the invalidity of a
conviction or sentence, the prisoner must establish that the
underlying sentence or conviction has been invalidated on
appeal, by habeas petition, or through a similar proceeding.
See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 483-87 (1994).
Under Heck, a party who was convicted of a crime is
barred from bringing a suit under § 1983 if a judgment
in favor of that party would necessarily imply the invalidity
of the conviction or sentence. See Whitaker v.
Garcetti, 486 F.3d 572, 581 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing
Heck, 512 U.S. at 114).
Wright's § 1983 complaint directly attacks the
validity of his criminal sentence. But Wright does not allege
his sentence has been reversed or otherwise invalidated.
Based on the docket in the underlying criminal case, it
appears Wright appealed the conditions and length of
supervised release imposed in 2016, the revocation of release
and revocation sentence imposed in 2017, and the denial of
his request for return of seized property. (See
Memo. of USCA (ECF No. 406) in 2:14-cr-00357-APG-VCF.) But
the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
affirmed the conditions and length of Wright's original
supervised release, the revocation of that release, and the
revocation sentence. (Id.) While the Ninth Circuit
reversed the district court's order denying Wright's
request for the return of cash seized during his arrest and
remanded for further proceedings on that issue, which are
ongoing, the gravamen of Wright's civil-rights complaint
is that he was framed. Given that the allegations in this
case necessarily imply the invalidity of Wright's
sentence, the court will recommend that Wright's
complaint be dismissed without leave to amend.
THEREFORE ORDERED that Wright's application to proceed
in forma pauperis (ECF No. 9) is GRANTED. Wright
will not be required to pay the filing fee in this action.
Wright is permitted to maintain this action to conclusion
without the necessity of prepayment of any additional fees or
costs or the giving of a security for fees or costs. This
order granting ...