United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
TERRANCE E. LACEY, SR., Plaintiff,
AUSTIN GRIGGS, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. MILLER, JR., JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
E. Lacey, Sr., a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a vague
complaint against Officer Austin Griggs and Officer J.
Wright,  alleging that his rights were violated in
conjunction with a prison disciplinary proceeding under DOC
case number WCC 18-02-0088. A filing by an unrepresented
party “is to be liberally construed, and a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Nevertheless,
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review the
merits of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it if the action
is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief.
Lacey alleges that he was disciplined as a result of a
“fraudulent conduct report based on a frivolous lie
derived from a [sic] unknown vendetta.” (ECF 2 at 2).
The complaint doesn't indicate who initiated the false
charge. The complaint doesn't indicate what charge was
brought against Mr. Lacey. And, the complaint doesn't
explain what motivated the individual to make the false
charge. The complaint does indicate that, as a result of the
false charges, “the privilege of having 6 months
reduced from [his] sentence was taken away.” Thus, it
appears Mr. Lacey was found guilty. It also appears that he
will serve additional time as a result of this finding of
guilt, but Mr. Lacey doesn't indicate precisely what
discipline was imposed.
extent Mr. Lacey is alleging that the conduct report was
brought against him for retaliatory reasons, his complaint
doesn't state a claim on which relief can be granted.
“Falsifying a disciplinary charge [does] not give rise
to liability for unconstitutional retaliation unless the
motive for the fabrication was to retaliate for the exercise
of a constitutional right.” Perotti v.
Quinones, 488 Fed.Appx. 141, 146 (7th Cir. Ind. 2012)
(citing Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 625
(7th Cir. 2006)). An allegation of First Amendment
retaliation requires a showing “that (1) he engaged in
activity protected by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a
deprivation that would likely deter First Amendment activity
in the future; and (3) the First Amendment activity was at
least a motivating factor in the Defendants' decision to
take the retaliatory action.” Gomez v. Randle,
680 F.3d 859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks and
citations omitted). In addition to not indicating who caused
the false conduct report or why, Mr. Lacey hasn't
identified any activity he engaged in that is protected by
the First Amendment. Mr. Lacey can't proceed on a First
Amendment retaliation claim.
Mr. Lacey alleges that he was wrongfully charged with a
disciplinary offense and that his due process rights were
violated during the course of the disciplinary hearing, but
if he lost time credit that hasn't been restored, he
can't pursue a claim for damages until the guilty finding
is overturned. See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641,
643 (1997)(“[A] state prisoner's claim for damages
is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if a judgment
in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the
invalidity of his conviction or sentence, unless the prisoner
can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has
previously been invalidated.”).
Lacey also seeks restoration of the time lost because of the
fraudulent charges brought against him and due process
violations. That relief can only be obtained through a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Walker v.
O'Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 633 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding
that § 2254 is the appropriate vehicle when contesting a
loss of good-time credit). Because Mr. Lacey expressed a
desire to challenge events that can only be challenged in a
petition for habeas corpus, the court will direct the clerk
to send him the paperwork to file such a case if he chooses
to do so. Mr. Lacey shouldn't infer that the court has
expressed any opinion as to the merits of such a claim nor
the wisdom of filing such a case. If he files a petition for
habeas corpus, he will either need to pay the $5.00 filing
fee or seek in forma pauperis status.
the complaint before the court doesn't state a claim on
which relief can be granted, the court will give Mr. Lacey an
opportunity to replead his claims. Luevano v. WalMart
Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1022-1023, 1025 (7th Cir.
2013); Loubser v. Thacker, 440 F.3d 439, 443 (7th
Cir. 2006). In the amended complaint, he should explain in
his own words what happened, when it happened, where it
happened, who was involved, and how he was personally
injured, providing as much detail as possible.
these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk send Terrance E. Lacey, Sr. a blank 28
U.S.C. § 2254 Habeas Corpus Petition Challenging a
Prison Disciplinary Proceeding, A0 241(Rev 1/15)(INND Prison
Disciplinary Rev. 8/16);
(2) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint (INND Rev. 8/16) and send it to Terrance
E. Lacey, Sr.;
(3) GRANTS Terrance E. Lacey, Sr. until September
13, 2018, to file an amended complaint on that
Lacey doesn't respond by that deadline, this case will be
dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A because the current complaint doesn't state a claim
on which relief can be granted.