Friday, May 30, 2003
Judge Jones says the bar of Heck does not apply to inmate's claim
In Bowman v. Large, Judge Jones of the W.D. Va. held that an inmate's lawsuit was not barred as a collateral attack on disciplinary proceedings against him in the prison. Based on Heck v. Humphreys, a criminal defendant is precluded from civil claims that would necessarily mean relitigation of the merits of his criminal case. Thus, for example, I had a case some years ago where a prisoner claimed that he was beaten up by jailers before he entered his guilty plea. He could claim that he was beaten, but he could not claim that his plea was coerced, under Heck. Heck has been extended by the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Ballok to prison disciplinary proceedings. The defendant in Bowman argued that Bowman's claim involved an attack on his prison disciplinary proceedings. Judge Jones rejected this argument, concluding that the inmate's claim here (like in the case I had) was about the use of force, and not the outcome of the earlier disciplinary proceedings against the plaintiff.