Cases & Deals

Parolee challenges conditions under Section 1983 after Ninth Circuit decision

Client(s) Thornton, William Cecil

Jones Day obtained a significant victory in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of pro bono client William C. Thornton in a published decision ruling that Mr. Thornton could challenge two conditions of his parole under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Ninth Circuit reversed a district court order dismissing Mr. Thornton's suit based on its finding that his § 1983 claims were barred by Supreme Court's decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

On appeal, Jones Day argued that Mr. Thornton's claims challenging his parole conditions were not barred by Heck and could proceed under § 1983 because they did not challenge the "fact or duration" of his confinement. The Ninth Circuit agreed, holding that "a state parolee may challenge a condition of parole under § 1983 if his or her claim, if successful, would neither result in speedier release from parole nor imply, either directly or indirectly, the invalidity of the criminal judgments underlying that parole term." Finding that Mr. Thornton's claim challenging his parole conditions would not result in his speedier release from parole or the invalidity of his underlying conviction and sentence, the Ninth Circuit held that Heck did not bar him from proceeding under § 1983. This decision is particularly significant as it the first in the Ninth Circuit addressing how Heck applies in the context of parole.

Thornton v. Brown, No. 11-56146, 2013 WL 3927759 (9th Cir., July 31, 2013)