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Law v. Cecil County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

January 10, 2014

DARRELL LAW, #13-2418, Plaintiff,
v.
CECIL COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE SHERIFF KENNEDY CAPT. RUDY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

ELLEN LIPTON HOLLANDER, District Judge.

On January 3, 2014, the Clerk received for filing Darrell Law's civil rights complaint seeking damages and the establishment of an oversight department to monitor state pre-trial bail review decisions. Mr. Law, who is self-represented, is currently detained at the Cecil County Detention Center ("CCDC") in Elkton, Maryland. His allegations pertain to the lawfulness of his detention and his bail review on unspecified criminal charges.[1] Law references a "systematic scheme" by law enforcement and the county prosecutor, resulting in his continued detention, allegedly in violation of Maryland Rules and the U.S. Constitution.[2] ECF No. 1 at p. 3 & Attachments. He further appears to challenge his six-day detention on CCDC isolation/disciplinary segregation after being cited with a disciplinary report.

Law appears indigent. Therefore, his motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis shall be granted. His complaint, however, may not proceed.

A civil rights claim that raises challenges to the constitutionality of incarceration is not appropriate unless and until Law's charges have been dismissed or declared invalid by a tribunal authorized to make such a determination. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). A claim for damages as to a conviction or sentence "that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under [42 U.S.C.] ยง 1983." Id. at 487. Law's allegations against defendants are barred by the rule announced in Heck, as a judgment in his favor "would necessarily imply the invalidity" of his criminal charges. Id. The Heck bar applies whether Law is still a pre-trial detainee or whether he has already been convicted of the charges for which he is currently incarcerated. See Smith v. Holtz, 87 F.3d 108, 113 (3rd Cir. 1996) ("In terms of the conflicts which Heck sought to avoid, there is no difference between a conviction which is outstanding at the time the civil rights action is instituted and a potential conviction on a pending charge that may be entered at some point thereafter.") Therefore, Law's complaint for damages as to his continued detention is barred under the rule of Heck. [3]

To the extent Law seeks review of his brief term on CCDC segregation, he has filed a separate civil rights action concerning the issue. It shall be addressed by the court. See Law v. Rudy, et al., Civil action No. ELH-14-15 (D. Md.).

The instant civil rights action shall be dismissed by separate Order.


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