United States District Court, D. Kansas
MICHAEL D. BENSON, Plaintiff,
STATE OF KANSAS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Crow U.S. Senior District Judge
brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is detained at the Shawnee
County Jail in Topeka, Kansas. The Court granted Plaintiff
leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff's
allegations in his Complaint involve his state criminal
proceedings. Plaintiff alleges that documents were falsified
and he was charged in retaliation for filing a civil rights
action in this Court in No. 18-3178-SAC. Plaintiff alleges
that his civil rights were violated on August 2, 2018,
when he was denied due process, received ineffective
assistance of counsel, and was selectively and vindictively
prosecuted in No. 18-cr-1447 in Shawnee County, Kansas.
Plaintiff names as defendants the State of Kansas and (fnu)
(lnu) District Attorney.
civil rights No. 18-3178-SAC was filed in this Court on July
25, 2018. See Benson v. Topeka Police Dep't, No.
18-3178-SAC (Kansas District Court). An online Kansas
District Court Records Search indicates that No. 18-cr-1447
was filed in Shawnee County on June 12, 2018, prior to the
filing of Plaintiff's civil rights case. On August 2,
2018, Plaintiff pleaded nolo contendere to Interference with
LEO, obstruct/resist/oppose misdemeanor warrant service or
execution, and was placed on twelve months of supervised
probation. See State v. Benson, No. 18-cr-1447
(Shawnee County District Court). Plaintiff's probation
was subsequently revoked for violations of his conditions of
probation. Id. Plaintiff's state criminal case
charging him with Aggravated Domestic Battery, Attempted
Aggravated Assault, Criminal Possession of Weapon by a Felon,
Interference with LEO, Criminal Threat, and Use/Possess With
Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia, is still pending. See
State v. Benson, No. 18-cr-1359 (Shawnee County District
Court). Plaintiff pleaded guilty to several of the charges
and sentencing is scheduled for July 26, 2019.
21, 2019, the Court entered a Memorandum and Order and Order
to Show Cause (Doc. 17) (“MOSC”), granting
Plaintiff until July 19, 2019, in which to show good cause
why his Complaint should not be dismissed. In the MOSC, the
Court found that the State of Kansas and its agencies are
absolutely immune from suits for money damages under the
Eleventh Amendment. The Eleventh Amendment presents a
jurisdictional bar to suits against a state and “arms
of the state” unless the state waives its immunity.
Peterson v. Martinez, 707 F.3d 1197, 1205 (10th Cir.
2013) (quoting Wagoner Cnty. Rural Water Dist. No. 2 v.
Grand River Dam Auth., 577 F.3d 1255, 1258 (10th Cir.
2009)). Therefore, in the absence of some consent, a suit in
which an agent or department of the state is named as a
defendant is “proscribed by the Eleventh
Amendment.” Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984).
Court also found in the MOSC that Plaintiff's claims
against the District Attorney fail on the ground of
prosecutorial immunity. Prosecutors are absolutely immune
from liability for damages in actions asserted against them
for actions taken “in initiating a prosecution and in
presenting the State's case.” Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976). Plaintiff's
claims concerning his criminal case fall squarely within the
Court also found that to the extent Plaintiff challenges the
validity of any sentence or conviction in his state court
criminal cases, his federal claim must be presented in habeas
corpus. “[A] § 1983 action is a proper remedy for
a state prisoner who is making a constitutional challenge to
the conditions of his prison life, but not to the fact or
length of his custody.” Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973) (emphasis added).
When the legality of a confinement is challenged so that the
remedy would be release or a speedier release, the case must
be filed as a habeas corpus proceeding rather than under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and the plaintiff must comply with the
exhaustion of state court remedies requirement.
Heck, 512 U.S. at 482; see also Montez v.
McKinna, 208 F.3d 862, 866 (10th Cir. 2000) (exhaustion
of state court remedies is required by prisoner seeking
habeas corpus relief); see 28 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(1)(A) (requiring exhaustion of available state court
remedies). “Before a federal court may grant habeas
relief to a state prisoner, the prisoner must exhaust his
remedies in state court. In other words, the state prisoner
must give the state courts an opportunity to act on his
claims before he presents those claims to a federal court in
a habeas petition.” O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999); see Woodford v.
Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 92 (2006); Rose v. Lundy, 455
U.S. 509, 518-19 (1982); Therefore, any claim challenging his
state sentence is not cognizable in a § 1983 action.
before Plaintiff may proceed in a federal civil action for
monetary damages based upon an invalid conviction or
sentence, he must show that his conviction or sentence has
been overturned, reversed, or otherwise called into question.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). If Plaintiff
has been convicted and a judgment on Plaintiff's claim in
this case would necessarily imply the invalidity of that
conviction, the claim may be barred by Heck. In
Heck v. Humphrey, the United States Supreme Court
held that when a state prisoner seeks damages in a §
1983 action, the district court must consider the following:
whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless
the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence
has already been invalidated.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). In
Heck, the Supreme Court held that a § 1983
damages claim that necessarily implicates the validity of the
plaintiff's conviction or sentence is not cognizable
unless and until the conviction or sentence is overturned,
either on appeal, in a collateral proceeding, or by executive
order. Id. at 486-87. Plaintiff has not alleged that
his conviction or sentence has been invalidated.
has failed to respond to the MOSC by the deadline, and the
Court finds that this case should be dismissed for failure to
state a claim as set forth in the MOSC.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT this case is
dismissed for failure to state a claim.
IS SO ORDERED.