United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
following Proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent
to United States District Judge Susan Weber Wright. You may
file written objections to all or part of this
Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1)
specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your
objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court
within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not
objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of
Daniel Elon Bell, currently in custody at the Grimes Unit of
the Arkansas Department of Correction, filed a pro
se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on
December 1, 2017. (Doc. No. 2). Also on December 1, 2017,
Bell filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis
(“IFP”), which was granted. (Doc. Nos. 1, 4).
docketing the complaint, or as soon thereafter as
practicable, the Court must review the complaint to identify
cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint if it: (1) is
frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2)
requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” In
Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007) (overruling Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41
(1957), and setting new standard for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted), the court stated, “a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do....Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level, ” citing 5 C. Wright
& A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216,
pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004). A complaint must contain enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face, not merely conceivable. Twombly at 570.
However, a pro se plaintiff's allegations must
be construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dept. of
Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-1044 (8th
Cir.2002) (citations omitted).
sued the Arkansas Parole Board, as well as the Chairman and
Commissioners of the Arkansas Parole Board in their official
and personal capacities. (Doc. No. 2, at 1-2). Bell was
convicted of attempted robbery and sentenced to ten years in
the Arkansas Department of Correction. Id. at 6. On
November 9, 2015, Bell's request for parole was denied.
Id. at 13. Bell asserts that Defendants unlawfully
applied sections of the Arkansas Code in denying his parole
application. Id. at 9, 12. He alleges that, as a
result, he is falsely imprisoned and that his rights under
the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments have been violated.
Id. at 6, 9. He seeks damages. (Doc. No. 2, at
10-12). Bell's Complaint should be dismissed for the
multiple reasons set out below.
Arkansas Parole Board Not Subject to Suit Under 42 U.S.C.
sued the Arkansas Parole Board. (Doc. No. 2). Section 1983
provides a cause of action against every person, who, acting
under color of state law, deprives another person of a
federally protected right. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because the
Arkansas Parole Board is not a “person” subject
to suit under § 1983, Bell's claims against the
Parole Board must be dismissed. See Brown v. Missouri
Dep't of Corrections, 353 F.3d 1038, 1041 (8th Cir.
Bell's Damages Claims Barred
seeks only damages. (Doc. No. 2, at 10-12). The Eleventh
Amendment to the United States Constitution bars suit against
a state or one of its agencies. Rose v. Nebraska,
748 F.2d 1258, 1262 (8th Cir. 1984); Nix v. Norman,
879 F.2d 429, 431-32 (8th Cir. 1989). Bell's official
capacity claims against the Defendants are claims against the
state, and, accordingly, are barred. See Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985) (“[A] judgment
against a public servant ‘in his official capacity'
imposes liability on the entity that he represents . . .
.”) (internal citation omitted); Taylor v.
Selig, 409 Fed.Appx. 986, 987 (8th Cir. 2011) (when sued
for damages state officials acting in their official
capacities not “persons” under § 1983).
parole officials perform functions similar to a judge when
deciding to grant, revoke, or deny parole, and are entitled
to absolute immunity in connection with claims arising from
those actions. Anton v. Getty, 78 F.3d 393, 396 (8th
Cir. 1996). This absolute immunity applies even if the
Commissioner or a member of the Parole Board made an unlawful
or unconstitutional decision in considering and denying
parole. Mayorga v. Missouri, 442 F.3d 1128, 1131
(8th Cir. 2006). “An absolute immunity defeats a suit
at the outset, so long as the official's actions were
within the scope of the immunity.” Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 419 n.13 (1976). Bell's
allegations involve actions taken in deciding his eligibility
for parole. Accordingly, the Commissioner or any member of
the Parole Board is absolutely immune from liability. See
Patterson v. Von Riesen, 999 F.2d 1235, 1239 (8th Cir.
Bell Does Not Have A Protected Liberty ...