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Lee v. Clinton

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Feb 11, 2020
No. 19-2786 (7th Cir. Feb. 11, 2020)

Opinion

No. 19-2786

02-11-2020

HEON SEOK LEE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, et al. Defendants-Appellees.


NONPRECEDENTIAL DISPOSITION
To be cited only in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 32.1 Before MICHAEL S. KANNE, Circuit Judge DIANE S. SYKES, Circuit Judge AMY J. ST. EVE, Circuit Judge Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 18 C 8294 Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge.

ORDER

Heon Seok Lee, a Korean national, was extradited to the United States, where a jury found him guilty of five counts of wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and three counts of fraudulent importation of goods into the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 545. He was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment. We affirmed Lee's conviction and sentence on appeal. United States v. Lee, 937 F.3d 797 (7th Cir. 2019). In the meantime, Lee sued virtually everyone involved in his prosecution under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). He challenged the constitutionality of his extradition, detention, and prosecution on multiple grounds, alleging that he was extradited and detained without probable cause, that prosecutors and other federal officials conspired to present a false indictment to the grand jury, enter fake evidence at trial, and create a false presentence investigation report, and that the court lacked jurisdiction to prosecute him. Lee sought billions of dollars in damages and the dismissal of his indictment. The district court determined that Lee's claims necessarily implied the invalidity of his conviction or sentence and dismissed the complaint pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994).

The district court initially dismissed Lee's claims with prejudice. The court then granted in part a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), correctly amending the judgment to a dismissal without prejudice. See Johnson v. Rogers, 944 F.3d 966, 968 (7th Cir. 2019). --------

On appeal, Lee's sole argument is that Heck does not bar his claims because a "void" or "null" judgment is different from an "invalid" judgment. But Lee's attempt to distinguish "void" from "invalid" is meritless. A plaintiff cannot seek damages in a civil suit that would call into question the lawfulness of a criminal conviction or sentence until that conviction or sentence has been reversed, expunged, invalidated, or otherwise called into question. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 489; Clemente v. Allen, 120 F.3d 703, 705 (7th Cir. 1997) (applying Heck's rationale to Bivens claims). Here, no judicial or executive officer has yet agreed that Lee's conviction is "void," so any claim for damages that would undermine it cannot proceed. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 485-87.

We note that Lee is no longer imprisoned, having been released in January 2019, but the Heck bar applies nonetheless. Savory v. Cannon, 947 F.3d 409, 420 (7th Cir. 2020) (en banc); see McDonough v. Smith, 139 S. Ct. 2149, 2159 (2019).

AFFIRMED


Summaries of

Lee v. Clinton

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Feb 11, 2020
No. 19-2786 (7th Cir. Feb. 11, 2020)
Case details for

Lee v. Clinton

Case Details

Full title:HEON SEOK LEE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, et al.…

Court:United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit

Date published: Feb 11, 2020

Citations

No. 19-2786 (7th Cir. Feb. 11, 2020)