Tiedemann v. Corum, No. 2:2011cv00668 - Document 10 (D. Utah 2012)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM DECISION and Dismissal Order-IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice, under 28 U.S.C.S. 1915(e)(2)(B) (2012), for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted. Signed by Judge David Sam on 5/2/12. (jmr)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH EDGAR TIEDEMANN, MEMORANDUM DECISION AND DISMISSAL ORDER Plaintiff, v. Case No. 2:11-CV-668 DS PATRICK CORUM, District Judge David Sam Defendant. Plaintiff, Edgar Tiedemann, an inmate at Utah State Prison filed this pro se civil rights suit, see 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 (2012), proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28 id. § 1915. complaint is now before the Court for screening. His See id. § 1915(e). Screening Analysis A. Standard of Review This Court shall dismiss any claims in a complaint filed in forma pauperis if they are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against an immune defendant. See id. § 1915(e)(2)(B). "Dismissal of a pro se complaint for failure to state a claim is proper only where it is obvious that the plaintiff cannot prevail on the facts he has alleged and it would be futile to give him an opportunity to amend." Perkins v. Kan. Dep't of Corrs., 165 F.3d 803, 806 (10th Cir. 1999). When reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint the Court "presumes all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991). Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se the Court must construe his pleadings "liberally" and hold them "to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Id. at 1110. However, "[t]he broad reading of the plaintiff s complaint does not relieve [him] of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based." Id. While Plaintiff need not describe every fact in specific detail, "conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim on which relief can be based." Id. B. Plaintiff's Allegations Plaintiff's Complaint alleges what appear to be ineffectiveassistance-of-counsel claims against Patrick Corum, his public defender in his long-ago state criminal case. 2 C. Improper Defendant To establish a cause of action under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege (1) the deprivation of a federal right by (2) a person acting under color of state law (without immunity). Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); Watson v. City of Kansas City, 857 F.2d 690, 694 (10th Cir. 1988). The Complaint names Defendant based on his role as Plaintiff's public defender. "However, the Supreme Court has stated that 'a public defender does not act under color of state law when performing a lawyer's traditional functions as counsel to a defendant in a criminal proceeding.'" Garza v. Bandy, No. 08-3152, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 17440, at *4 (10th Cir. Aug. 13, 2008) (unpublished) (quoting Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981)). Additionally, "'even though the defective performance of defense counsel may cause the trial process to deprive an accused person of his liberty in an unconstitutional manner, the lawyer who may be responsible for the unconstitutional state action does not himself act under color of state law within the meaning of § 1983.'" Id. (quoting Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 329 n. 6 (1983)). Thus, Plaintiff's claims against Defendant may not proceed here. 3 D. Heck "In Heck, the Supreme Court explained that a § 1983 action that would impugn the validity of a plaintiff's underlying conviction cannot be maintained unless the conviction has been reversed on direct appeal or impaired by collateral proceedings." Nichols v. Baer, No. 08-4158, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 4302, at *4 (10th Cir. Mar. 5, 2009) (unpublished) (citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994)). Heck prevents litigants "from using a § 1983 action, with its more lenient pleading rules, to challenge their conviction or sentence without complying with the more stringent exhaustion requirements for habeas actions." Butler v. Compton, 482 F.3d 1277, 1279 (10th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). Heck clarifies that "civil tort actions are not appropriate vehicles for challenging the validity of outstanding criminal judgments." 512 U.S. at 486. Plaintiff argues that Defendant violated his constitutional rights at trial. These arguments attack Plaintiff's underlying conviction and sentence. Heck requires that, when a plaintiff requests damages in a § 1983 suit, this Court must decide whether judgment in the plaintiff's favor would unavoidably imply that the conviction or sentence is invalid. would. Id. at 487. Here, it If this Court were to conclude that Plaintiff's constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was 4 violated in a prejudicial manner, it would be stating that Plaintiff's conviction and sentence were not valid. Thus, this complaint "must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated." Id. This has not happened. The Court must thus dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. Finally, Plaintiff's request to have his conviction invalidated may be properly raised only in a habeas corpus petition. ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice, under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (2012), for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted. neither liberal interpretation of Plaintiff's claims nor opportunity to amend would lead to a different result. DATED this 2nd day of May, 2012. BY THE COURT: DAVID SAM United States District Judge 5 And,