United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Valdosta Division
May 8, 2015
THOMAS F. JERNIGAN, Plaintiff,
Judge JOHN KENT EDWARDS, JR, and LOWNDES COUNTY STATE COURT, Defendants.
AMENDED ORDER 
HUGH LAWSON, SENIOR JUDGE
Petitioner Thomas F. Jernigan, an inmate currently confined at the Lowndes County Jail, in Valdosta Georgia, filed the above-captioned proceeding in this Court seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In this action, Plaintiff challenges the validity of his current confinement and seeks relief in the form of both money damages and an order for his release. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, however, raises legal issues only considered in a habeas action. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (“[H]abeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release.”). Plaintiff cannot challenge his conviction or sentence under § 1983 unless he first shows that his conviction or sentence has already been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Id. Even when liberally construed in his favor, Plaintiff’s Complaint does not include any allegation suggesting that his conviction or sentence has been reversed, expunged, or otherwise invalidated. (See Docs. 1, 5)
Plaintiff’s § 1983 complaint is accordingly DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim, see 28 U.S.C. 1915A(b)(1), and his pending Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) shall be GRANTED only for the purpose of dismissal.
To the extent that Plaintiff seeks to invalidate his conviction or sentence, he may recast his claims on a standard application for habeas relief under 42 U.S.C. § 2254 and file it as a new action in this Court. The Clerk of Court is thus DIRECTED to provide Plaintiff with a form habeas application. Plaintiff is advised, however, that § 2254 has an exhaustion requirement. A state prisoner is required (with few exceptions) to “exhaust available state judicial remedies before a federal court will entertain his petition for habeas corpus.” Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971). “A failure to exhaust occurs . . . when a petitioner has not ‘fairly presented’ every issue raised in his federal petition to the state's highest court, either on direct appeal or on collateral review.” Pope v. Secretary for Dept. of Corr., 680 F.3d 1271, 1284 (11th Cir. 2012) (internal alterations omitted); Mason v. Allen, 605 F.3d 1114, 1119 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam). Thus, if Plaintiff files a habeas petition in this Court prior to exhausting all available state remedies, his petition will also likely be dismissed without prejudice to allow for such exhaustion. See Gore v. Crews, 720 F.3d 811, 815 (11th Cir. 2013).