United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
DAVID A. STEBBINS PLAINTIFF
STATE OF ARKANSAS and BOONE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT CLERK DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David A. Stebbins has filed a Motion for Reconsideration and
to Recuse (Doc. 55) and Brief in Support (Doc. 56). Stebbins
seeks reconsideration of the Court's April 14, 2017 Order
(Doc. 49) and final Judgment (Doc. 50) dismissing his case.
He has also asked the undersigned to recuse. Stebbins is
pro se and proceeding in forma pauperis.
The dismissal of Stebbins' complaint followed this
Court's screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Stebbins' Motion raises one point worthy
of further discussion.
motion for reconsideration of a final judgment or order may
be made pursuant to either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
59(e) or 60(b). "Rule 59(e) motions serve the limited
function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact or to
present newly discovered evidence." Lowry ex ret.
Crow v. Watson Chapel Sen. Dist, 540 F.3d 752, 761 (8th
Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v. Metropolitan St.
Louis Sewer Dist, 440 F.3d 930, 933 (8th Cir. 2006)
(internal citations and quotations omitted)). According to
Rule 60(b), a party may be relieved from an order of the
Court under certain enumerated circumstances, including the
existence of "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or
excusable neglect" or "any other reason that
justifies relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1) and (6). Rule
60(b) "provides for extraordinary relief which may be
granted only upon an adequate showing of exceptional
circumstances." United States v. Young, 806
F.2d 805, 806 (8th Cir. 1986).
Pertinent Facts As Alleged In The Complaint
Stebbins filed his federal complaint (Doc. 2), he said the
Circuit Clerk of Boone County was in the midst of preventing
him from perfecting the complete trial record for an appeal
he had filed in the Arkansas Court of Appeals. The state
appeal stemmed from a 2012 battery and malicious prosecution
lawsuit that Stebbins filed against his own father in the
Circuit Court of Boone County, Arkansas. According to the
federal complaint in this case, Circuit Judge Russell Rogers
signed an order on January 23, 2015, dismissing (at least
some of) Stebbins' claims. According to Stebbins, the Boone
County Circuit Clerk intentionally removed Judge Rogers'
January 23rd (partial) dismissal order from the
official court file as she was preparing the record on
appeal. Stebbins included his own copy of the order with the
addendum to his appeal brief, but the Arkansas Court of
Appeals refused to consider the order-unless it was contained
in the record on appeal, and therefore the Court of Appeals
directed the Circuit Clerk to correct the deficiency.
According to Stebbins, the Circuit Clerk failed to timely
supplement the record-thus making her liable for a violation
of Stebbins' federal rights. The State of Arkansas is
liable too-Stebbins' theory continues-because as the
Circuit Clerk's employer, it failed to enforce the Court
of Appeals' order to supplement.
background purposes, Stebbins recites numerous federal
lawsuits that he has filed in previous years under the
American with Disabilities Act. Then-quoting excerpts from
orders Judge Rogers entered in June and July 2015
(i.e., six months after the date of the missing
dismissal order), -Stebbins surmises that Judge Rogers
harbors personal animosity towards Stebbins because of his
litigation history. According to Stebbins, Judge Rogers
"hates [Stebbins], and was ruling against [him],
regardless of the facts or law, just for that reason
alone." (Doc. 2, ¶ 21). With this in mind, Stebbins
draws the conclusion that the Circuit Clerk and the State of
Arkansas are liable to him because "we can reasonably
assume that [the defendant's] actions are similarly
motivated." Id. at ¶ 23.
Stebbins explains that the defendants' failure to timely
supplement the record has resulted in unnecessary delays in
the resolution of his appeal, which in turn has proximately
caused him damages in the sum of $11, 000, 000.00 (the value
Stebbins assigns to his state court causes of action),
plus post-judgment interest (that would have accrued on such
an award) in the sum of $3, 013.70 per day, backdated to
October 7, 2016. Id. at ¶ 39. Stebbins also
seeks an injunction that would require "the State of
Arkansas to never again retaliate against [him]."
Id. at ¶ 37.
Amended Complaint that Stebbins sought to file (Doc. 41), he
provides an update on the missing order. "It has
recently surfaced . . . that the [missing order] was never in
fact filed in the Circuit Court in the first place."
Id. at¶4. (Thus explaining why the Circuit
Clerk did not include it as part of the official record on
appeal). Now swapping horses, Stebbins contends that Judge
Rogers "purposely pretended to issue an order in a civil
case when he really didn't." Id. at ¶
28(a). This was "almost certainly motivated by my
litigation history." Id. at ¶ 16. In
Stebbins' view, this makes Judge Rogers liable for
"First Amendment retaliation, " a claim he
specifically seeks to bring pursuant to §1983.
Id. at ¶ 23.
summary, the logic of Stebbins' allegations goes
something like this: (1) he has been the victim of past
instances of disability discrimination, (2) for which he has
previously filed many federal lawsuits seeking
redress under the ADA, (3) the cumulative effect of which has
resulted in him being viewed with personal animus and disdain
by nearly every state law enforcement official that
he has encountered since 2010, and (4) therefore any legal
circumstance, ruling, or outcome that Stebbins perceives to
be adverse, (5) gives rise to a claim for retaliation under
This Court's Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
reasons explained in greater detail in its Memorandum Opinion
and Order (Doc. 49), this Court screened Stebbins'
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2), and
dismissed the case with prejudice. Observing that the
defendants were immune from such suits, the Court found that
the complaint failed to state a cause of action under §
1983, and that the claims were otherwise frivolous and
Stebbins' Motion for Reconsideration
Motion for Reconsideration and Brief in Support (Docs. 55 and
56) alleges many superfluous and impertinent bases for
reconsideration, which this Court need not address. However,
the Court does find one contention in particular to be worthy
of greater explanation. Stebbins argues that it was error for
the Court to construe his complaint as one seeking relief
pursuant to § 1983. Stebbins insists that his claims
were not premised on constitutional violations, but rather
unlawful retaliation ...