CA11: Ptf stated enough to get over Heck bar; DC erred in dismissing with insufficient findings

Plaintiff filed a Bivens action against a U.S. Postal Inspector for having him locked out of his storage unit on a telephone call that required follow-up to seize then search. It was never forthcoming. A relative tried to access his storage unit the next day and couldn’t get in. The district court dismissed the claim on Heck v. Humphrey grounds, and this was error. There are multiple ways he could overcome Heck on the record here, so the case is reversed. Harvey v. United States, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4049 (11th Cir. March 8, 2017) (see Treatise § 64.14):

Here, neither the magistrate judge nor the district court made any findings about or provided any reasoning for why Harvey’s abuse of process and illegal search and seizure claims would necessarily imply that his underlying conviction was invalid. We therefore cannot determine on this record whether those claims are barred by Heck. Hughes, 350 F.3d at 1167. Indeed, the adjudication of Harvey’s postconviction challenge to his conviction and sentence, of which the magistrate judge took judicial notice, seems to weigh in Harvey’s favor on this point. One of Harvey’s postconviction arguments was that his lawyer was ineffective for failing to suppress the evidence obtained from the storage facility. See Harvey v. United States, No. 1:14-cv-21939-JLK, Doc. 25 at 3 (S.D. Fla. June 17, 2015). The magistrate judge in Harvey’s postconviction challenge—who is the same magistrate judge in this Bivens challenge—rejected Harvey’s claim, stating “it is hardly likely that the jury’s verdicts of guilt turned on the evidence contained in the storage unit. The other evidence of [Harvey's] guilt overwhelmingly supported the jury’s guilty verdicts.” Id. at 36. Thus, Harvey’s abuse of process and illegal search and seizure claims may not imply that his underlying conviction is invalid. We therefore reverse and remand to the district court for additional consideration of Harvey’s abuse of process and unreasonable search and seizure claims.

This entry was posted in § 1983 / Bivens. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.