Tyler v. Bogle, C/A No.: 9:18-1513-MGL-BM

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtBristow Marchant United States Magistrate Judge
PartiesLarry James Tyler, Plaintiff, v. James Bogle, Jr., Defendant.
Docket NumberC/A No.: 9:18-1513-MGL-BM
Decision Date06 August 2018

Larry James Tyler, Plaintiff,
James Bogle, Jr., Defendant.

C/A No.: 9:18-1513-MGL-BM


August 6, 2018


This is a civil action filed by the Plaintiff, Larry James Tyler, pro se. Plaintiff, a frequent filer of litigation in this Court, is currently detained at the Darlington County Detention Center, where he is awaiting civil commitment proceedings pursuant to the South Carolina Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), S.C. Code Ann. §§ 44-48-10 through 44-48-170. See Complaint. ECF No. 1 at 5, 17; see also Tyler v. Byrd, No. 4:16-00400-MGL-BM, 2016 WL 4414834, at * 1 (D.S.C. Jul. 27, 2016), adopted by 2016 WL 4374982 (D.S.C. Aug. 16, 2016).1

Plaintiff's Complaint is before the Court for pre-service review. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); In re Prison Litigation Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997)[pleadings by non-prisoners should also be screened]. Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se complaint herein pursuant to the procedural provisions

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of § 1915, and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir.1995) (en banc); and Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir.1983). Section 1915 permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without paying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. However, to protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action "is frivolous or malicious," "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A finding of frivolousness can be made where the complaint "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. at 31. Hence, under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319.

Further, while this Court is also required to liberally construe pro se documents, holding them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)(quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)), the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir.1990). Such is the case here.

Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff alleges that his Fourteenth Amendment rights have been violated. Complaint, ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff is once again challenging his pending sexually violent predator (SVP) proceedings, this time arguing that his Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated based on

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procedures taken by Defendant Assistant Attorney General James Bogle, Jr. prior to Plaintiff's SVP probable cause hearing2 that found him "eligible" to go on to a SVP probable cause hearing.3 He claims that Bogle impermissibly deemed some of his convictions as "violent" under the SVPA (Plaintiff claims they are not violent crimes pursuant to unspecified "federal guidelines").4 Plaintiff asserts that he is challenging the legality of South Carolina's procedures used to classify him as a sexually violent predator and the procedure the State used in forcing him to submit to SVP evaluations. Id. at 6-8. Plaintiff requests declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. Id. at 10-11.

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Initially, the undersigned is constrained to note that Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages are subject to summary dismissal based on the United States Supreme Court's decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the United States Supreme Court held that a state prisoner's claim for damages is not cognizable under § 1983 where success of the action would implicitly question the validity of the conviction or duration of a sentence, unless the prisoner can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has been previously invalidated. Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-487. Heck bars both a claim that the plaintiff was being held past his mandatory parole release date as to his state convictions as well as his civil confinement pending assessment as a SVP. Cf. Huff v. Attorney General of Va., No. 3:07cv744, 2008 WL 4065544 (E.D.Va. Aug. 26, 2008), aff'd, 323 F. App'x 293 (4th Cir. 2009); see also Haynesworth v. Cothran, C/A No. 2:12-2466-CMC-BHH, 2012 WL 4753896, at *2 (D.S.C. Sep.27, 2012) [Heck applies to civil-rights challenges to SVP orders], adopted by, 2012 WL 4753893 (Oct. 4, 2012); Wood v. Wood El, No. Civ.A. 05-1447 RBK, 2005 WL 1899335, at *4 (D.N.J. Aug.5, 2005) [rejecting a § 1983 challenge to an involuntary civil commitment because the involuntary commitment had not been invalidated as required by Heck].

Heck also acts to bar Plaintiff's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005) ["[A] state prisoner's § 1983 action is barred (absent prior invalidation)—no matter the relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of the prisoner's suit ...—if success in that action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its duration."]; Mobley v. Tompkins, 473 F. App'x 337 (4th Cir. 2012) [applying Heck in a civil action seeking damages and injunctive relief relating to federal convictions] (citing

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Heck at 586-87; Harvey v. Horan, 278 F.3d 370, 375 (4th Cir. 2002), abrogated on other grounds by Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521 (2011)).

Moreover, even if Plaintiff's claims are not barred by Heck, federal courts are not authorized to interfere with a State's pending criminal proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances.5 See, e.g., Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44 (1971); Cinema Blue of Charlotte, Inc. v. Gilchrist, 887 F.2d 49, 50-53 (4th Cir. 1989). The Fourth Circuit has held that the Younger abstention doctrine applies "to noncriminal judicial proceedings when important state interests are involved." Harper v. Public Serv. Comm'n of W. Va., 396 F.3d 348, 351 (4th Cir. 2005)[property law concerns] (citing Middlesex County Ethics Comm'n v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982)). The South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the SVPA and its procedures as a constitutionally valid exercise of the State's power to protect its citizens from sexually violent predators; In re: Luckabaugh, 568 S.E.2d 338, 348 (S.C. 2002); and the Court of Appeals of South Carolina has stated that protecting minors from sexual predators is an important state interest. See State v. Reid, 679 S.E.2d 194, 201 n. 6 (S.C.Ct.App. 2009)[discussing South Carolina's important public policy of protecting minors from harm in the context of an internet solicitation of a minor

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case].6 Other circuits have also applied Younger to pending civil commitment proceedings. See Sweeney v. Bartow, 612 F.3d 571, 572 (7th Cir. 2010)["The principles of Younger are applicable to habeas petitions from pending [Wisconsin] sexually violent person commitments."]; Smith v. Plummer, 458 F. App'x 642, 643 (9th Cir. 2011)[Younger doctrine extends to state civil judicial proceedings where there is an ongoing...

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