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Small v. Brown

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

September 28, 2017

VINCENT H. SMALL PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF RON BROWN, Crawford County, Arkansas; and MARC MCCUNE, Prosecuting Attorney DEFENDANTS

          OPINION

          P. K. HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Vincent H. Small, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. He proceeds pro se and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. The 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).

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the allegations of the complaint (ECF No. 1), Plaintiff was incarcerated in the State of Oklahoma in 2016. Plaintiff alleges that on April 21, 2016, Crawford County was notified of his imprisonment in Oklahoma, but that Crawford County did not lodge a detainer against him until April 1, 2017.

         Plaintiff alleges his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was violated by Defendants. Further, he alleges his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights were violated. Finally, he alleges Rule 29 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure was violated.

         Plaintiff names as Defendants the Crawford County Sheriff, Ron Brown, and prosecuting attorney, Mark McCune. He has sued them in their official capacities only.

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Crawford County Detention Center. As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, release from custody, and dismissal of the charges against him.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under 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) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         A claim 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)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Section 1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation, under color of law, of a citizen's “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the defendant acted under color of state law and that he violated a right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007, 1009 (8th Cir. 1999). The deprivation must be intentional; mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right under § 1983. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1986).

         Plaintiff's claims are subject to dismissal for a number of reasons. First, the prosecuting attorney, Mark McCune, is 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).

         As to Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief, prosecutors are not immune from claims for equitable relief. Supreme Court v. Consumers Union, 446 U.S. 719, 736-38 (1980). However, “[t]he federal courts should not interfere in state criminal court proceedings [by granting equitable relief] when state and federal law provide adequate legal remedies and when intervention needlessly threatens the principle of comity.” Smith v. Bacon, 699 F.2d 434, 437 (8th Cir. 1983) (per curiam) (citation omitted). Here, adequate legal remedies exist ...


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