United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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 her Complaint on November 27, 2017, in the Eastern
District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 2). The case was transferred
to this District on January 9, 2018. (ECF Nos. 7, 8).
alleges her constitutional rights were violated when she was
coerced into a guilty plea by her public defender, Christina
Sherry. (ECF No. 2 at 4). Plaintiff further alleges the
prosecutors, Defendants Shue and Hunter, should have been
aware that she had already been convicted of a similar charge
in Barling City Court. (ECF No. 2 at 4-5).
proceeds against all Defendants in their official and
personal capacities. (ECF No. 2 at 2). Plaintiff seeks
“relief from these charges that are sending me to
prison, ” as well as time served. (ECF No. 2 at 6).
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 (8th Cir. 1985).
claims against Public Defender Sherry are subject to
dismissal. 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. Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312,
325 (1981). Thus, when the claim is merely that the public
defender failed to adequately represent the client in his or
her criminal proceedings, it does not state a cognizable
claim under § 1983. See Gilbert v. Corcoran,
530 F.2d 820 (8th Cir. 1976) (conclusory allegations of
ineffective assistance of counsel do not state a claim
against public defenders under § 1983).
Plaintiff's claims against Prosecutors Shue and Hunter
are subject to dismissal. 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). Based on
the allegations of the complaint, it is clear the prosecuting
attorneys are entitled to absolute immunity. See also
Brodnicki v. City of Omaha, 75 F.3d 1261 (8th Cir. 1996)
(County prosecutors were entitled to absolute immunity from
these reasons, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's claims are