United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
HOLMES, III, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and
in forma pauperis.
case is before the Court for preservice screening under the
provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court has the
obligation to screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
filed his Complaint on August 3, 2017. (ECF No. 1). He
alleges he is being denied access to a law library while
incarcerated on pending capital murder and kidnapping charges
in the Hot Spring County Jail. (ECF No. 2 at 3-4). Plaintiff
alleges he needs the proper material to represent himself in
a “pro se man[n]er.” (ECF No. 2 at 5). He further
alleges that, because the jail considers itself a temporary
facility, the “standing policy” is to not have a
law library and to deny pre-trial Defendants access to proper
legal materials. (ECF No. 1, p. 5).
proceeds against all Defendants in their official capacity
only. (ECF No. 2 at 4). Plaintiff seeks the installation of a
law library at the Hot Springs County Jail. (ECF No. 2 at 8).
the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen the case prior to
service of process being issued. The Court must dismiss a
complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that:
(1) are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or, (2) seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
is frivolous if “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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In 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 (2007)). Even a
pro se Plaintiff must allege specific facts
sufficient to support a claim. Martin v. Sargent,
780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8 Cir. 1985).
case is 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)).
undeniably enjoy a constitutional right of access to the
courts and the legal system." Bounds v. Smith,
430 U.S. 817 (1997). The right of access requires the
provision of “prisoners with adequate law libraries or
adequate assistance from persons trained in the law, ”
Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828, to challenge their criminal
charges, convictions, and sentences directly or collaterally.
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). Research
by the Court indicates that Plaintiff's state criminal
case for capital murder and kidnapping, (State v.
Williams & Tadlock, 30CR-17-230 (Ark. Cir. Ct., Hot
Spring County), is still ongoing and that Plaintiff has been
appointed a Public Defender to represent him in the pending
case. Thus, this Court is required to abstain from hearing
the case because there is an ongoing state criminal case.
Plaintiff is advised to raise any constitutional concerns he
might have with his appointed attorney.
these reasons, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's claims are