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Boyd v. Lappin


April 18, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge


Pro se plaintiff Anthony Boyd is a federal offender currently confined at the United States Penitentiary in Jonesville, Virgina. He brings this action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), against Harley Lappin, director of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), Ronald G. Thompson, director of BOP's South Central Region, and C. Bickle, a disciplinary hearing officer at the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") in Three Rivers, Texas.*fn1 Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss and, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the motion will be granted.

Plaintiff contends that his Fifth Amendment due process rights were violated when, while confined at FCI Three Rivers, he was disciplined for conduct of which he was later acquitted in federal court. (Cmpl. at 2.)*fn2 The precise contours of plaintiff's constitutional claim are unclear. Liberally construing his complaint and opposition,*fn3 he can be understood to allege (1) that Bickle violated due process by imposing disciplinary sanctions against him for having assaulted compound officers, when there was insufficient evidence to find assault and when a federal jury later acquitted plaintiff of the same conduct; (2) that Thompson and Lappin violated due process by upholding Bickle's decision on appeal; and (3) that Lappin violated due process by adopting a policy that prevents prisoners from viewing prison videotapes in preparation for disciplinary proceedings. (See Cmpl. at 1--2; Opp. at 1--4.) As relief, plaintiff requests the restoration of good-time credits that he lost as a disciplinary sanction, damages of $1,000,000 each against Thompson and Lappin, and damages of $1,000,000 against Bickle. (Cmpl. at 2.)

The D.C. Circuit has held that "claims challenging prison disciplinary procedures necessarily imply the invalidity of the loss of good-time credits as part of the punishment imposed." Farmer v. Hawk, No. 98-5100, 1999 WL 414252, at *1 (D.C. Cir. June 14, 1999) (per curiam denial of rehearing en banc); see also Farmer v. Hawk, No. 98-5100, 1999 WL 151414, at *1 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 3, 1999) (per curiam panel decision) (explaining that the above principle applies even when plaintiffs do not expressly request the restoration of good-time credits). Therefore, under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997), such claims are not cognizable under Bivens. E.g., Farmer, 1999 WL 414252, at *1. Accordingly, "[s]uch [claims] may properly be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1)." Best v. Kelly, 39 F.3d 328, 330 (D.C. Cir. 1994).

Here, plaintiff's due process claims, if successful, would "lead necessarily to restoration of [his] good-time credits and hence the shortening of [his] sentence." Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 84 (2005). Accordingly, plaintiff cannot bring a Bivens action unless he first brings a habeas action that successfully invalidates his disciplinary proceedings and the loss of his good-time credits.*fn4 See, e.g., Farmer, 1999 WL 151414, at *1 ("Appellants are not entitled to relief without showing that the judgment against them has been reversed, expunged, or otherwise declared invalid.").

For the foregoing reasons, the Court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss and dismiss this case without prejudice pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).*fn5 An appropriate order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.

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