526 F.2d 314 (5th Cir. 1976), 75--3398, Carter v. Hardy

Docket Nº:75--3398 [*]
Citation:526 F.2d 314
Party Name:Albert H. CARTER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Ray HARDY, District Clerk of Harris County, Texas, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:January 23, 1976
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 314

526 F.2d 314 (5th Cir. 1976)

Albert H. CARTER, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Ray HARDY, District Clerk of Harris County, Texas, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 75--3398 [*]

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 23, 1976

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Feb. 25, 1976.

Page 315

Albert H. Carter, pro se.

Carol Vance, Dist. atty., Joe S. Moss, Chief, Appellate Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Houston, Tex., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before THORNBERRY, MORGAN and RONEY, Circuit Judges.


Carter was convicted in 1963 and 1965 by Texas state courts of passing worthless checks. He now contends that these convictions were invalid because he was indigent and was denied counsel. Although he has served the sentences imposed in 1963 and 1965 and those sentences are not being used for enhancement of his current sentence, he seeks in this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to obtain an order expunging these convictions from his record and for declaratory relief that they are invalid.

The district court dismissed Carter's pro se complaint on the grounds that a federal court has no authority to mandamus a state official except in aid of its jurisdiction and that Carter's proper remedy is by way of habeas corpus. Although we disagree with the district court's rationale, we believe that it reached the correct result and therefore affirm the dismissal.

Inspection of Carter's complaint reveals that he sought not mandamus but merely an 'order requiring defendant to expunge the said convictions from all official records within his custody, and for declaratory judgment that such convictions are constitutionally invalid, as well as such other and further relief as may appear just and proper.' Appellant claims that he sought by his reference to an 'order' a mandatory injunction rather than mandamus. We find this logical in that the term 'order' is often used to refer to an injunction. In view of the duty of the courts to read pro se pleadings liberally, e.g., Cook v. Whiteside, 505 F.2d 32 (5 Cir. 1974), we believe that the complaint must be read to seek injunctive relief under § 1983. See Tarlton v. Saxbe, 507 F.2d 1116, 1120 n. 3 (D.C.Cir.1974); Russell v. Knight, 488 F.2d 96 (5 Cir. 1973).

Moreover, we find that habeas corpus is not a practical alternative to...

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