United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Torey B. Logan, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and in
forma pauperis ("IFP"). The case is before the
Court for pre-service screening pursuant to the Prison
Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). The 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 claims 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).
an African-American male, was incarcerated in the Carroll
County Detention Center when he filed this case. According to
the allegations of the Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff was
arrested on October 23, 2017, on the charge of theft by
receiving, a Class A felony, for having purchased a
non-operational Dodge Neon valued at $400. Plaintiff claims
that there are multiple witnesses who confirmed that
Plaintiff purchased the vehicle as scrap metal, not knowing
that it was stolen. Plaintiff believes he was arrested
without probable cause.
October 25, 2017, Plaintiff had his initial bond hearing
before Judge Dale Ramsey. Plaintiffs bond was set at $150,
000. According to Plaintiff, James Carr, the man who sold him
the stolen Dodge Neon, was charged with theft, a Class C
felony. Carr also had an initial bond hearing that day, and
Plaintiff believes that Carr's bond was set at $5, 000.
The Complaint contains no information regarding the criminal
history of either Plaintiff or Carr, or their ties to the
community or other matters considered when setting bond.
November 13, 2017, Plaintiff had his initial arraignment
before Judge Scott Jackson. Plaintiff asked his public
defender, Robert Allen, to request a bond reduction.
Plaintiff states the public defender reluctantly did so, and
the request was opposed by the prosecuting attorney, Devon
Still. Judge Jackson denied the bond reduction. On December
11, 2017, the theft by receiving charge against Plaintiff was
contends that the bond amount that was set in his case was
"3000% higher than the standard bond for similar charges
of other inmates." (Doc. 1 at 8). He believes he was the
"victim of racial discrimination" and points out
that Judges Ramsey and Jackson are Caucasian. Id.
Plaintiff maintains that he was "falsely imprisoned for
over 60 days due to racial discrimination." Id.
As relief, he asks that his trial be reset to a different
venue-which is a moot issue in light of the fact that the
charges against him were dropped; that Defendants be charged
with racial discrimination and hate crimes for incarcerating
him without probable cause and without reasonable bail; and
that Defendants lose their licenses to practice law in
Arkansas and every other state.
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). The Court
bears in mind, however, 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
has asserted no plausible claims. First, Judges Ramsey and
Jackson are immune from suit. Mireles v. Waco, 502
U.S. 9, 11 (1991) ("Judicial immunity is an immunity
from suit, not just from ultimate assessment of
damages"). Here, the challenged actions were judicial in
nature-the setting of bond and the denial of a reduction in
bond. Judicial immunity applies "even when the judge is
accused of acting maliciously and corruptly."
Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967); see
Estate of Keys v. Union Planters Bank, N.A., 578
F.Supp.2d 629, 634 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (judge absolutely immune
from claims that he discriminated against the Plaintiff on
the basis of race); see also Cooper v. Rapp, 702
Fed.Appx. 328, 332 (6th Cir. 2017) (immunity applies even
when judge's facial expressions and body language
indicated he was racially biased-it is the function the Judge
is performing that is at issue and not the conduct itself);
Shanks v. Otsego Cnty. New York, 2017 WL 4220463, *6
(N.D.N.Y. July 24, 2017) (judge was absolutely immune from
claims that he was guilty of abuse of power, malicious
prosecution, false imprisonment, and racial discrimination so
long as he was acting within the jurisdiction of the court).
Furthermore, the Court notes that under Arkansas law, a
defendant may appeal a denial of bail by filing a writ of
certiorari. See, e.g., Larimore v. State, 3 S.W.3d
680, 682 (Ark. 1999).
the public defender, Robert Allen, is not subject to suit
under § 1983. 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. Plaintiffs allegations against Robert Allen are
clearly based on his actions as counsel for Plaintiff in his
criminal proceeding. DuBose v. Kelly, 187 F.3d 999,
1002-03 (8th Cir. 1999) ("[C]onduct of counsel generally
does not constitution action under color of law").
Therefore, the claims against Robert Allen are subject to
the prosecuting attorney, Devon Still, is immune from suit.
The United States Supreme Court, in Imblerv.
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);
Brodnicki v. City of Omaha, 75 F.3d 1261 (8th Cir.
1996). This is true even if allegations of vindictive
prosecution are alleged. Myers v. Morris, 810 F.2d
1437, 1448 (8th Cir. 1987).
reasons stated, the claims asserted are subject to dismissal
because they are frivolous, fail to state claims upon which
relief may be granted, or are against Defendants immune from
suit. Therefore, this case is DISMISSE ...