United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights case filed by the Plaintiff, Patrick Lewis
Hubbard, under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma
pauperis ("IFP"). He is currently incarcerated
in the Benton County Detention Center.
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).
to the allegations of the Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff is
awaiting trial on pending criminal charges. (Doc. 1, p. 4).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Weimer provided false
information in order to obtain an arrest warrant against him.
(Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). Plaintiff also alleges Defendant Weimer
charged him with two crimes for the same act, resulting in a
double jeopardy claim. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). Plaintiff alleges
John Doe Prosecutor arraigned him for two crimes for the same
act, maliciously prosecuted him, and knew of Defendant
Weimer's perjury on the arrest warrant affidavit. (Doc.
1, pp. 7, 9). Plaintiff alleges Public Defender Vaught
committed deliberate indifference when he kept Defendant
Weimer's perjury on the arrest warrants from the Court.
(Doc. 1, p. 10).
relief, Plaintiff asks for punitive damages and any other
fines, fee, penalties the Court finds it should impose. (Doc
1, p. 12).
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." Bell Atl.
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, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
claims are subject to dismissal because they are barred by
the Younger abstention doctrine. Pursuant to
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), federal
courts are required to abstain from hearing cases when
"(1) there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding which
(2) implicates important state interests, and when (3) that
proceeding affords an adequate opportunity to raise the
federal questions presented." Norwood v.
Dickey, 409 F.3d 901, 903 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Fuller v. Ulland, 76 F.3d 957, 959 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Ongoing state criminal proceedings implicate the important
state interest of enforcing state criminal law, and
constitutional claims relating to that proceeding should be
raised there. Meador v. Paulson, 385 Fed.App'x
613 (8th Cir. 2010); see also Gillette v. N. Dakota Disc.
Bd. Counsel, 610 F.3d 1045, 1046 (8th Cir. 2010)
("federal courts may not enjoin pending state court
criminal proceedings absent a showing of bad faith,
harassment, or any other unusual circumstance that would call
for equitable relief.") (internal quotations omitted).
prosecuting attorneys are immune from suit. The United States
Supreme Court, in Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409,
431 (1976), established the absolute immunity of a prosecutor
from a civil suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
"in initiating a prosecution and in presenting the
State's case." Id. at 427. This immunity
extends to all acts that are "intimately associated with
the judicial phase of the criminal process."
Id. at 430; see also Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259 (1993) (prosecutor acting as
an advocate for the state in a criminal prosecution is
entitled to absolute immunity, while a prosecutor acting in
an investigatory or administrative capacity is only entitled
to qualified immunity); Brodnicki v. City of Omaha,
75 F.3d 1261 (8th Cir. 1996) (county prosecutors were
entitled to absolute immunity from suit).
Plaintiff failed to state a cognizable claim against the
public defender. To state a claim under § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that the defendant, while acting under
color of state law, deprived him of a federal right. In
Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981), the
Supreme Court held that a public defender does not act under
color of state law when performing a lawyer's traditional
functions as counsel to indigent defendants in state criminal
proceedings. Thus, when the claim is that the public defender
failed to adequately represent the client in his criminal
proceedings, it does not state a cognizable claim under
§ 1983. See also Gilbert v. Corcoran, 530 F.2d
820 (8th Cir. 1976) (conclusory allegations of ineffective
assistance of counsel do not state a claim against public
defenders under § 1983).
Complaint fails to state a cognizable claim under § 1983
and is frivolous and/or asserted against an individual immune
from suit. The case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as to John
Doe Prosecuting Attorney and Public Defender Vaught, and
WITHOUT PREJUDICE as to Detective Weimer. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(1)-(iii) (IFP ...