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McKinney v. Sweetman

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 11, 2016

KEITH MCKINNEY #A6034607, Plaintiff,


Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Keith McKinney’s prisoner civil rights complaint. Compl., Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff names Honolulu City and County Police Officer “Mr. P., ” Deputy Prosecutor Michael Sweetman, [1] Deputy Public Defender Henry Ting, and Facebook as Defendants to this action. Plaintiff alleges Defendants lied, arrested him without probable cause, maliciously prosecuted him, denied him due process, and withheld and tampered evidence before and during his recent criminal trial. Plaintiff seeks $5 million in damages for his allegedly illegal conviction.

Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrine set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). This action is DISMISSED without prejudice as frivolous and for failure to state a cognizable claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915(A)(b)(1).


The court must screen all civil actions brought by prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis or seeking redress from a government entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(a). Complaints or claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1).

A complaint is frivolous, if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted if a plaintiff fails to allege “grounds” that show his “entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint that lacks a cognizable legal theory or alleges insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory fails to state a claim. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Leave to amend should be granted if it appears the plaintiff can correct the defects in the complaint. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). When it is clear the complaint cannot be saved by amendment, however, dismissal without leave to amend is appropriate. Sylvia Landfield Trust v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).


Public records show that Plaintiff was convicted by jury trial in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, of three counts of sexual assault. See Hawai’i Public Access to Court Information, avail.: (“Ho`ohiki”), State v. McKinney, 1PC14-000315, Dkt. 51- 52 (Haw. Cir. Ct., Oct. 7, 2014) (last visited Jan. 8, 2016).[2] Judgment of conviction and sentence were entered on June 17, 2015. Id., Dkt. No. 70. Notice of appeal was filed on July 21, 2015, and the case is currently pending before the Intermediate Court of Appeals in CAAP-15-0000537. Id. Dkt. 75. Plaintiff was represented at trial by Deputy Public Defender Henry Pei-Hsin Ting; the State was represented by Deputy Prosecutor Michael James Sweetman. See Id. Plaintiff is represented on appeal by Walter Julio Rodby, Esq.

In Heck v. Humphrey, the United States Supreme Court held that “to recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, ” or otherwise declared invalid, called into question by the issuance of a habeas writ, or expunged. 512 U.S. at 486-87; see also Bradford v. Schershlight, 803 F.3d 382, 386 (9th Cir. 2015) (discussing Heck’s “well-known rule that when an otherwise complete and present cause of action would impugn an extant conviction, accrual is deferred until the conviction or sentence has been invalidated”).

[W]hen a state prisoner seeks damages in a section 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. But if the district court determines that the plaintiff’s action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed.

Heck, 512 U.S. at 487.

Plaintiff is clearly challenging issues that relate to his criminal conviction and he seeks damages. He has the opportunity to do so on appeal, and may in fact be pursuing the claims he presents here in the Hawaii appellate court. His conviction and sentence have not been overturned and success here would necessarily impugn Plaintiff’s conviction. ...

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