Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Eighth Circuit: Heck Bars False Imprisonment Claim

In an April 19, 2012 decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a federal district court that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) [PLN, Sept. 1994, p.12] barred a Minnesota prisoner's claim that prison officials unlawfully confined him for 375 days beyond his supervised release eligibility date.

In 2002, Brian Lee Marlowe pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 108 months in prison, including a term of supervised release.

Several months before Marlowe's December 6, 2007 supervised release date, he was designated a level two predatory sex offender; this required that he serve "intensive supervised release ... [and] a standard condition of intensive supervised release is that the offender live in a residence approved" by the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Prior to Marlowe's supervised release date, he and his prison case manager were unable to find a suitable post-release residence. Marlowe was assigned a supervising agent who picked him up at the prison on his supervised release date. "Marlowe used the agent's cell phone to make a last attempt to find a residence. When Marlowe was unable to find one, the supervising agent took him to the county jail and explained that his supervised release would likely be revoked if he did not locate housing within a few weeks."

Less than two weeks later, a DOC officer conducted a revocation hearing and "determined that Marlowe was violating a condition of his supervised release because he was not living in approved housing and revoked his release. The officer informed Marlowe that his supervised release would be reinstated if he were to find approved housing."

In February 2008, Marlowe filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in state district court, arguing that he was being unlawfully incarcerated beyond his supervised release date. The district court denied relief. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed, but remanded and instructed the DOC to "consider restructuring Marlowe's release plan" and to "seek to develop a plan that can achieve Marlowe's release from prison and placement in a suitable and approved residence...." See: State ex rel Marlowe v. Fabian, 755 N.W.2d 792 (Minn. Ct. App. 2008). A residence was eventually located and Marlowe was finally released on December 16, 2008.

He then filed suit in federal court, alleging that he was improperly confined for 375 days beyond the date he became eligible for supervised release. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, finding that Marlowe's claims were barred by Heck.

Marlowe appealed and the Eighth Circuit affirmed, rejecting his argument that the remand of his state habeas corpus petition by the Minnesota Court of Appeals satisfied Heck's favorable termination rule. "The court of appeals decision did not invalidate the Department's ongoing imprisonment of Marlowe," the Eighth Circuit wrote. "It did not hold that any portion of his incarceration had been unlawful, and it allowed the Department to continue to incarcerate him until he met all the conditions of his supervised release."

Although Marlowe attempted to argue that he had "satisfied the 'spirit' of Heck by first bringing his claim in a state habeas proceeding," the Court of Appeals was not convinced. "[A] plaintiff has no cause of action under § 1983 for damage claims for unlawful imprisonment until he shows that the challenged incarceration was 'reversed, expunged, invalidated, or impugned by the grant of a writ of habeas corpus,'" the Court noted. Thus, the judgment of the district court was affirmed. See: Marlowe v. Fabian, 676 F.3d 743 (8th Cir. 2012), cert. denied.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Marlowe v. Fabian