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Quinn v. Dequardo

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 8, 2015

MAURICE E. QUINN, Plaintiff,
JOHN DeQUARDO, M.D., Pueblo State Hospital, SARA WELTON, Public Defender, BILLY BOUNDS, Public Defender, ERIC ZALES, Public Defender, JUDGE MARTIN EGGLENHOFF, Denver District Court, BRIAN WIGGETT, Psy. D. Staff Psychologist, DEN D.A. ALLISON JENNINGS, and JUDGE CHRISTINA HABAS, Denver District Court, Defendants.


GORDON P. GALLAGHER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Maurice E. Quinn is a prisoner in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections and currently is incarcerated at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Cañon City, Colorado. Plaintiff, acting pro se, initiated this action by filing a Prisoner Complaint alleging that his constitutional rights were violated. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1915.

In his original Complaint, Plaintiff asserted three claims regarding his court-ordered prescribed medication. Overall, Plaintiff appeared to challenge the affect the prescribed medication had on his ability to participate in his state criminal proceeding and to enter into a knowing and voluntary plea, and his current inability to feed himself, dial the telephone to talk to his family, tie his shoes, push himself in a wheelchair, to which he is confined. He sought release from prison, declaratory relief and money damages.

In a lengthy Order dated January 6, 2015, Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher informed Plaintiff that his request for release based on the alleged constitutional violations in his criminal proceeding must be addressed in a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 504 (1973). Habeas corpus claims may not be raised in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. The Supreme Court has explained the role of habeas and civil rights actions as follows:

Federal law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to imprisonment: a petition for habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and a complaint under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Rev. Stat. § 1979, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973); requests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement may be presented in a § 1983 action.

Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004); see also Hill v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 573, 579 (2006). If Plaintiff wishes to pursue any habeas corpus claims he must file a separate habeas corpus action.

Second, the Court informed him that his request for money damages based on the alleged constitutional violations in his criminal proceeding is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). Under Heck, the United States Supreme Court held that if a judgment for damages favorable to a prisoner in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action necessarily would imply the invalidity of a criminal conviction or sentence, the § 1983 action does not arise until the conviction or sentence is reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by an authorized state tribunal, or called into question by the issuance of a federal habeas writ. Here, there is an underlying conviction that would be subject to invalidation based on Plaintiff's prescribed medications and his associated inability to assist in his criminal proceeding and to enter a knowing and voluntary plea. See Butler v. Compton, 482 F.3d 1277, 1280 (10th Cir. 2007) (court found Heck was not implemented in this case but stated that when there is related underlying conviction there would be invalidation and Heck applies). If the Court were to find that Plaintiff was so medicated during his trial that he was incapable of entering a voluntary and knowing plea and to assist in his defense, as suggested by Plaintiff, that finding would necessarily imply the invalidity of the conviction and sentence.

Third, the Court informed him that Defendants Sara Welton, Billy Rounds, Eric Zales, Judge Martin Egglenhoff, Allison Jennings, and Judge Christina Habas are immune from suit. Therefore, the Court directed Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint that addresses only claims properly brought in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against properly named defendants. He was directed that to state a claim in federal court he must explain (1) what a defendant did to him; (2) when the defendant did it; (3) how the defendant's action harmed him; and (4) what specific legal right the defendant violated. Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007).

Plaintiff also is required to assert personal participation by a named defendant in the alleged constitutional violation. See Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1262-63 (10th Cir. 1976). To establish personal participation, Plaintiff must show in the Cause of Action section of the complaint form how the named individual caused the deprivation of a federal right. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). There must be an affirmative link between the alleged constitutional violation and each defendant's participation, control or direction, or failure to supervise. See Butler v. City of Norman, 992 F.2d 1053, 1055 (10th Cir. 1993).

A defendant may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of his or her subordinates on a theory of respondeat superior. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). Furthermore,

when a plaintiff sues an official under Bivens or § 1983 for conduct "arising from his or her superintendent responsibilities, " the plaintiff must plausibly plead and eventually prove not only that the official's subordinates violated the Constitution, but that the official by virtue of his own conduct and state of mind did so as well.

Dodds v. Richardson, 614 F.3d 1185, 1198 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677). Therefore, in order to succeed in a § 1983 suit against a government official for conduct that arises out of his or her supervisory responsibilities, a plaintiff must allege and demonstrate that: "(1) the defendant promulgated, created, implemented or possessed responsibility for the continued operation of a policy that (2) caused the complained of constitutional harm, and (3) acted with the state of mind required to establish the alleged constitutional deprivation." Id. at 1199.

Importantly, the Court ordered him to file an Amended Complaint that complied with its Order on the Court-approved Prisoner Complaint form, along with the applicable instructions, at

After seeking several extensions, Plaintiff filed an "Amended Motion, " which is a rambling document containing citations to law and incoherent discussions. This document is not on the Court approved Civil Rights form. Moreover, it does not change any of the original defendants ...

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