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Wisconsin Over Detention Suit Not Barred by Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court?s dismissal of a prisoner?s suit related to a delay in granting time served credits. The court concluded that plaintiff?s claims were not barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.

In 1997, Reginald Burke pleaded no contest to two Wisconsin criminal offenses and was sentenced to 5- and 2-years, respectively. The sentences were imposed consecutively to one another, and to a separate parole violation sanction. In May 1999, the court amended its order so the 1997 sentences would run concurrently.

Burke then filed various state court actions seeking credit for the 8 months he spent in jail between his July 12, 1996 arrest and March 20, 1997 sentencing. The state court rejected Burke?s various attempts to obtain time served credits.

Burke also sought the time served credits from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC). After nearly two years, DOC granted Burke 8 months and 8 days of jail credit. Burke then brought an action in federal court, claiming that ?he was detained ? longer than he should have been due to the ?deliberate indifference and delay? of DOC officials in granting him the jail credit.??

The district court granted Defendants? motion to dismiss, agreeing ?that Burke?s case is jurisdictionally barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because ?he is seeking to litigate in federal court the same claim regarding jail time credit on which he lost in? state court.

The Seventh Circuit disagreed, finding ?this is not a Rooker-Feldman case. In his § 1983 claim, Burke is not seeking federal review of the state court decisions that denied him the jail credit he believed he was owed?. This case is about a different claim: that the DOC officials who gave Burke the credit took too long to do so because they were deliberately indifferent. That claim was never presented to or decided by the Wisconsin courts, and so Rooker-Feldman presents no jurisdictional bar.? See: Burke v. Johnston, 452 F.3d 665 (7th Cir. 2006).

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Related legal case

Burke v. Johnston