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Wilson v. Hearnsberger

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

March 31, 2018

LAMAR D. WILSON, ADC #161545 PLAINTIFF
v.
MARCIA R. HEARNSBERGER, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          KRISTINE G. BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Lamar D. Wilson is a prisoner in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He has filed a pro se complaint alleging claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Circuit Court Judge Marcia Hearnsberger, Deputy Prosecutor Joe Graham, and Dale Adams, the public defender who represented Mr. Wilson during his state court proceedings, in their official and individual capacities (Dkt. No. 2). Mr. Wilson alleges that Mr. Graham “refused to correct legal errors of injustice” and that Judge Hearnsberger “accepted a coerced plea agreement.” (Id., at 4). Mr. Wilson further alleges that Mr. Adams, his attorney, “denied [him] information . . . .” (Id.). For relief, he asks the Court for “full reversal of this injustice and my reputation restored, ” and he asks that defendants “be removed” and have their licenses removed (Id.). Also, pending before the Court is Mr. Wilson's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 1), Mr. Wilson's motion for a status update (Dkt. No. 3), and his motion to dismiss this action (Dkt. No. 5).

         The Court grants Mr. Wilson's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 1) and grants Mr. Wilson's motion to dismiss voluntarily this action (Dkt. No. 5). Even if Mr. Wilson did not move to dismiss voluntarily this action, for the reasons that follow, this Court would dismiss the complaint on screening pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”).

         I. In Forma Pauperis Application

         Under the PLRA, a prisoner who is permitted to file a civil action in forma pauperis still must pay the full statutory filing fee of $350.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The only question is whether a prisoner will pay the entire filing fee at the initiation of the proceeding or in installments over a period of time. Ashley v. Dilworth, 147 F.3d 715, 716 (8th Cir. 1998). Even if a prisoner is without assets and unable to pay an initial filing fee, he will be allowed to proceed with his § 1983 claims, and the filing fee will be collected by the Court in installments from the prisoner's inmate trust account. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). During his detention, Mr. Wilson submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (Dkt. No. 1). Accordingly, Mr. Wilson's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Based on the information contained in Mr. Wilson's application, and given the circumstances of this case, the Court will not assess an initial partial filing fee.

         II. Screening

         The PLRA requires federal courts to screen prisoner complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that: (a) are legally frivolous or malicious; (b) fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (c) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). The in forma pauperis statute also imposes these standards for dismissal. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         An action is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “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 reviewing the sufficiency of a pro se complaint under the Court's screening function, the Court must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The Court also must weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992). Although pro se complaints are to be liberally construed, the complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).

         A. Background

         Mr. Wilson's claims center around his trial and plea agreement in state court (Dkt. No. 2, at 4-5). He alleges that he had one charge, rape, and that, after the trial, Judge Hearnsberger improperly “offered 2nd degree sexual assault and sexual indecency with a child as lessors.” (Id., at 4). He further alleges that he was acquitted on the rape charge and found guilty of the lessor included offenses, though the sexual indecency charge was set aside after the jury's decision (Id.). Mr. Wilson next alleges that Judge Hearnsberger “refused the pronouncement of jury reading . . . .” (Id.). Mr. Wilson also alleges that deputy prosecutor Mr. Graham “refused to correct legal errors of injustice” and that Judge Hearnsberger “accepted a coerced plea agreement.” (Id., at 4). Mr. Wilson further alleges that Mr. Adams, Mr. Wilson's public defender, “denied [him] information . . . .” (Id.).

         Mr. Wilson sued Mr. Adams, Judge Hearnsberger, and Mr. Graham in their official and individual capacities (Dkt. No. 2). For relief, he asks the Court for “full reversal of this injustice and my reputation restored, ” and he asks that defendants “be removed” and have their licenses revoked (Id.). For the reasons set out below, Mr. Wilson has failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted. Therefore, based on screening, this Court dismisses without prejudice his claims against all defendants.

         B. Discussion

         To state a cognizable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the conduct of a defendant acting under color of state law deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the United States Constitution of the laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Bare allegations void of factual enhancement are insufficient to state a claim for relief under § 1983. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         1. Claims Against Public ...


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