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Andaluz-Prado v. Helder

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

August 17, 2016

WANDA T. ANDALUZ-PRADO PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF TIM HELDER; and PUBLIC DEFENDER BLAKE CHALLENGER DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a civil rights case filed by the Plaintiff Wanda T. Andaluz-Prado under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Andaluz-Prado proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. She is incarcerated in the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC).

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) modified the IFP statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, to require the Court to screen complaints for dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (a) are frivolous or malicious; (b) fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (c) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the allegations of the Complaint (Doc. 1), Andaluz-Prado is being held on a first degree murder charge. Andaluz-Prado has sued Sheriff Tim Helder for having released her private information and having authorized news media to publish pictures taken in the courtroom at the jail. Specifically, she contends the jail released a court date for her "sentencing" and allowed the media to publish a picture of her in a jail uniform. With respect to the court date, Andaluz-Prado states it was released as a "sentencing" date. She asserts this was clearly false as she has not yet been convicted of a crime. She contends these actions have violated her right to privacy and damaged her reputation.

         With respect to Blake Challenger, her public defender, Andaluz-Prado contends he has breached the attorney client privilege. Specifically, she alleges the following: "(1) documents entered in my name and signed in my name; (2) the results of my mental exam published on the internet and newspapers; (3) photo of myself in jail scrubs from the first day in front... of the judge." (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         Andaluz-Prado has attached to the Complaint: a picture of her in her jail uniform looking down at something with a man at her side, presumably Blake Challenger; a newspaper article in English stating Andaluz-Prado was declared mentally fit to stand trial; and a newspaper article in Spanish.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks to be exonerated on all charges brought against her. She also seeks monetary damages as a result of the release of information and her photograph.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Under the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen a case prior to service of process being issued. A claim is frivolous when it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). However, the Court bears in mind that when "evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a claim, we hold 'a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, ... to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Jackson v. Nixon, 141 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Erickson v. Partus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).

         Andaluz-Prado's claims are subject to dismissal. First, she has no right to privacy in her arrest records or in her appearance at a place open to members of the public. It has been recognized that a constitutional right to privacy exists as to certain forms of personal information possessed by the state if "an individual has a legitimate expectation ... that it will remain confidential while in the state's possession." Sheets v. Salt Lake Cnty., 45 F.3d 1383, 1387 (10th Cir. 1995). "The constitutional right to privacy is generally limited to only the most intimate aspects of human affairs." Wade v. Goodwin, 843 F.2d 1150, 1153 (8th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted); Powell v. Schriver, 175 F.3d 107, 112 (2d Cir. 1999) (gratuitous disclosure of inmate's confidential information violates the Constitution). The right to privacy is balanced against legitimate penological interests. Id.

         Arrest records, including any booking photographs, are public records and are not protected from disclosure. See Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-103(7)(A) (definition of public records) (2015); Furman v. Holloway, 312 Ark. 378 (1993) (inmate's prison file was public record). The booking information available to the public clearly does not infringe on the "most intimate aspects of human affairs." The fact that Andaluz-Prado has not been convicted of the crime with which she is charged does not serve to exclude these public records from disclosure. The definition of public records is broad. Specifically, the term is defined as follows:

"Public records" means writings, recorded sounds, films, tapes, electronic or computer-based information, or data compilations in any medium required by law to be kept or otherwise kept and that constitute a record of the performance or lack of performance of official functions that are or should be carried out by a public official or employee, a governmental agency, or any other agency or improvement district that is wholly or partially supported by public funds or expending public funds. All Records maintained ...

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