United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Morris, United States District Court Judge
James Jerome Morrison, Jr. filed a Complaint presenting
allegations regarding Defendants' actions that occurred
during: (1) criminal proceedings against Morrison; and (2)
hearings conducted by the Montana Department of Family
Services relative to his parental rights of his daughter.
(Doc. 2 at 8.) Morrison alleges that Defendants used false,
fabricated, coerced, and erroneous information against him in
each referenced proceeding. Id.
States Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch entered Findings
and Recommendations in this matter on November 16, 2017.
(Doc. 7.) Neither party filed objections. When a party makes
no objections, the Court need not review de novo the
proposed Findings and Recommendations. Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-52 (1986). This Court will review
Judge Lynch's Findings and Recommendations, however, for
clear error. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus.
Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
Lynch concluded that Morrison's allegations challenge the
validity of the criminal prosecution against him, and his
resulting criminal conviction and sentence. (Doc. 7 at 4.)
Judge Lynch determined that Morrison's allegations are
barred under the authority of Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477 (1994). The plaintiff must establish that the
conviction or sentence has already been invalidated through
an appropriate legal action before a plaintiff can pursue a
42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim that would render a criminal
conviction or sentence invalid. Id. at 486-87.
Lynch determined that Morrison's allegations seek a legal
decision that Defendants' actions and conduct during the
course of the criminal proceedings were unlawful and
unconstitutional. (Doc. 7 at 5.) A ruling in Morrison's
favor would imply that the criminal proceedings, and the
resulting conviction were unlawful. Id. Judge Lynch
determined that Morrison does not allege that his criminal
conviction or sentence have been reversed through other
appropriate legal action. Id. Heck bars
Lynch determined that Morrison alleges that various
Defendants engaged in a course of misconduct to produce false
or fabricated evidence against him. Morrison alleged that
this course of misconduct resulted in the termination of his
parental rights. (Doc. 7 at 6.) Judge Lynch determined that
Morrison currently has a parental rights case on appeal to
the Montana Supreme Court from Montana Second Judicial
District Court. Id.
strong policy exists against federal intervention in pending
state judicial processes in the absence of extraordinary
circumstances. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-45
(1971). The Ninth Circuit has determined that federal courts
must abstain under Younger if the following
requirements are met: (1) there exists an ongoing proceeding
initiated by the state; (2) the proceeding implicates
important state interests; (3) the federal plaintiff has the
opportunity to litigate federal constitutional issues in the
state proceeding; and (4) the federal court action would
enjoin the proceeding or have the practical effect of doing
so. San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce Political
Action Committee v. City of San Jose, 546 F.3d 1087,
1091 (9th Cir. 2008).
Lynch concluded that Morrison's claims satisfy the
Younger abstention requirements. Judge Lynch further
determined that Younger abstention applies
differently to claims for monetary damages than it does to
claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. (Doc. 7 at 10.)
Claims for injunctive and declaratory relief should be
dismissed without prejudice while claims for monetary relief
should be stayed pending resolution of the state court
proceedings. Lampley v. Toris, 2012 WL 846460 at *4
(C.D. Cal. 2012).
Court has reviewed Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendations for clear error. The Court finds no error in
Judge Lynch's Findings and Recommendations, and adopts
them in full.
IS ORDERED that Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendations (Doc. 7), are ADOPTED IN
IS ORDERED that Morrison's allegations and
claims which, in substance, challenge the validity of his
criminal conviction or sentence are barred by Heck
and should be DISMISSED.
IS ORDERED that Morrison's allegations and
claims challenging Defendants' actions in the course of
his state court parental rights proceedings are
DISMISSED to the extent that Morrison seeks
injunctive relief, i.e. requesting that all false information
about him ...