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Golden v. State

United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division

April 15, 2015

ALLEN P. GOLDEN, Plaintiff,


Allen P. Golden, currently serving a prison term for child molestation, has filed a form 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint that challenges the validity of that conviction.[1] (Doc. 1.) He asks for millions of dollars in money damages, claiming that his plea was invalid because the judge failed to inform him of his rights as required by Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969). (Doc. 1 at 5.) His case must be dismissed.[2]

A § 1983 damages claim that calls into question the lawfulness of a conviction or sentence simply "does not accrue until the conviction or sentence has been invalidated." Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 489 (1994). The Supreme Court likened such claims to common law tort actions for malicious prosecution, which historically have required the plaintiff to allege and prove the termination of the prior criminal proceeding in his favor as an element of his claim. Id. at 484-86. Thus, Heck held

that, in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983.

Id. at 486-87.

Golden cannot use § 1983 as a tool to challenge his conviction, even if he only seeks monetary damages. Perhaps he may pursue state habeas corpus relief. But until his conviction is overturned, he has no cognizable claim for damages arising from a judicial oversight during his criminal prosecution. Golden's § 1983 action should thus be DISMISSED.[3] He has also filed a motion seeking immediate review of his complaint. (Doc. 7.) That motion is GRANTED for docket-clearing purposes.

Plaintiff is statutorily required to pay the filing fee for this lawsuit. Based upon his furnished information, he owes at $12 partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) (requiring an initial fee assessment "when funds exist, " under a specific 20 percent formula). Plaintiffs account custodian, however, shall set aside 20 percent of all future deposits to the account and forward those funds to the Clerk each time the set aside amount reaches $10, until the balance of the Court's $350 filing fee has been paid in full. In the event plaintiff is transferred to another institution, plaintiffs present custodian shall forward a copy of this Order and all financial information concerning payment of the filing fee and costs in this case to plaintiffs new custodian. The balance due from the plaintiff shall be collected by the custodian at his next institution in accordance with the terms of this Order.

A copy of this Order and a copy of the Consent to Collection of Fees from Trust Account shall be served upon plaintiff and his current custodian. The payment portion of this Order is to be implemented immediately, as it is not subject to the adoption provision of Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).


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