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Thomas v. Stewart

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

March 22, 2018

DEMARIO THOMAS
v.
JAMES C. STEWART, ET AL.

          HICKS, JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mark L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge

         In accordance with the standing order of this court, this matter was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for review, report, and recommendation.

         STATEMENT OF CLAIM

         Before the court is a civil rights complaint filed in forma pauperis by pro se plaintiff Demario Thomas (“Plaintiff”), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This complaint was received and filed in this court on September 22, 2017. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. He claims his civil rights were violated by prison officials during his criminal trial proceedings. He names District Attorney James C. Stewart, Dale G. Cox, Dhu Thompson, Holly McGinnes, and the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office as defendants.

         Plaintiff claims that in 2014, he was convicted by a jury of second degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. He claims he was racially discriminated against in his criminal trial proceedings. Plaintiff claims District Attorney James C. Stewart is aware that Blacks have been systematically excluded from the grand jury and petit jury venire pools in Caddo Parish. He also claims District Attorney Stewart is aware of the Blackstrikes which led to his conviction. He claims Judge Brady O'Callaghan and Assistant District Attorney Dhu Thompson knew of the policy to discriminate because certain jurors will automatically return with a guilty verdict. Plaintiff claims Assistant District Attorney Dhu Thompson used psychological methods to persuade the jury to convict him.

         Plaintiff claims he was targeted by the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office. He claims he is African-American and the jury for his trial was predominately white. He claims he was discriminated against and manipulated. Plaintiff claims he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

         Plaintiff claims the jury coordinator selects the jury. He also claims the Clerk of Court codes the race and gender of each perspective juror. Plaintiff claims there was a Confederate flag memorial outside the courthouse during the time of his trial.

         Plaintiff claims circumstantial evidence was admitted during his trial. He claims the District Attorney's Office also excluded Catholics, artists, and school teachers from the jury selection process. Plaintiff claims the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure aids the District Attorney in racially discriminating in the jury selection procedure.

         Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks to have his conviction and sentence overturned and to be released from incarceration, monetary compensation, attorney fees, costs, declaratory and injunctive relief, and any other proper relief.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Heck Claim

         Plaintiff claims he was wrongly convicted and sentenced because of the actions of Defendants. Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages and injunctive and declaratory relief for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction and sentence. The United States Supreme Court held that in order to recover monetary compensation for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or sentence or for "harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid," a prisoner must show that the conviction or sentence has been "reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas." Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 2372 (1994). Courts have also extended the holding in Heck to claims seeking injunctive or declaratory relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 648, 117 S.Ct. 1584, 1589, 137 L.Ed.2d 906 (1997); Clark v. Stalder, 154 F.3d 186, 190-91 (5th Cir. 1998). Heck involved a civil rights claim brought by a state prisoner. The Court dismissed the Section 1983 suit until plaintiff could demonstrate that his conviction or sentence had been invalidated.

         When a claim comes within the parameters of the Heck teachings, it is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 so long as the validity of the conviction or sentence has not been called into question as defined therein, which requires dismissal of claims not meeting its ...


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