United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS DISTRICT JUDGE.
C. Yates, currently an inmate of the Benton County Detention
Center, has filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. He proceeds pro se and in forma
pauperis. Plaintiffs Amended Complaint (Doc. 7) 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.
to the allegations of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff was
exploited by the shop supervisor, Defendant James
Boudreax. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in
May or June of this year, Defendant Boudreax told the
Plaintiff, who was a trustee, that if Plaintiff "could
do a couple of his personal projects" that Defendant
Boudreax would make sure Plaintiff would get a
"probation deal." Plaintiff asserts that Defendant
Boudreax knowingly got the Plaintiff involved in committing
the crime of stealing county property for personal gain.
Plaintiff maintains Sheriff Holloway, Investigator Adams,
Captain Paul, Lieutenant Holt, and Captain Guyll "turned
[their] heads" under the "false pretense" that
they were investigating the matter.
relief, Plaintiff asks that all his legal bills be paid, for
enough money "to start a business of my desire"
($300, 000 to $400, 000), and for immunity for the
"amount of time evidence is to be held for violent
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.
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 Atl. 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. Partus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).
essential elements of a § 1983 claim are (1) that the
defendant(s) acted under color of state law, and (2) that the
alleged wrongful conduct deprived the plaintiff of a
constitutionally protected federal right." Schmidt
v. City of Bella Vista, 557 F.3d 564, 571 (8th Cir.
2009). The focus in this case is on the second element.
is no constitutional right to probation. Rather, a sentence
of probation "is unquestionably a matter of grace rather
than right and the granting of a period of probation rests
within the sound discretion of the trial judge."
United States v. Hopper, 440 F.Supp. 1208, 1209
(N.D. Ill. 1977) (citation omitted); see also Gordon v.
State, 601 S.W.2d 598, 600 (Ct. App. 1980)
("[T]here is no right of probation when one has been
convicted of a crime, rather it is a matter of judicial
sufferance or grace.").
an oral promise with respect to a plea agreement is not
enforceable unless made by the prosecuting attorney or an
authorized agent. San Pedro v. United States, 79
F.3d 1065, 1068 (11th Cir. 1996). If made by a prosecuting
attorney, the promise must be fulfilled. Santobello v.
New York, 404 U.S. 257, 262 (1971); see also Ellis
v. State, 703 S.W.2d 452, 453 (Ark. 1986) ("[N]o
accused is guaranteed he will actually receive the benefit of
his plea bargain, but he is guaranteed the prosecutor will
seek or not oppose the concessions promised."). However,
"[d]iscussions with police officers or [detention center
personnel] are not plea negotiations and 'agreements'
reached are not plea deals." Rosas v. Reed,
2015 WL 510110, at*7-8 (W.D. Tex. Feb. 2, 2015). Here,
Plaintiff does not allege he ever reached an agreement with a
prosecuting attorney-or that he even received an offer from a
prosecuting attorney. Due process does not render the oral
promise allegedly made by Defendant Boudreax enforceable
under § 1983. No. liberty or property interest exists.
prove a § 1983 conspiracy claim against a particular
defendant, the plaintiff must show: that the defendant
conspired with others to deprive him or her of a
constitutional right; that at least one of the alleged
co-conspirators engaged in an overt act in furtherance of the
conspiracy; and that the overt act injured the
plaintiff." Askew v. Millerd, 191 F.3d 953, 957
(8th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). Additionally, the
plaintiff must prove the deprivation of a constitutional or
civil right to prevail. Id. (citation omitted).
Here, Plaintiff does not allege that a conspiracy existed
between James Boudreax and the Defendants. Instead, his claim
against the other Defendants is that they failed to properly
investigate when he complained of Defendant Boudreax's
conduct. He does not allege the Defendants engaged in an
overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy. Plaintiff asserts
that Defendant Boudreax himself engaged in a criminal act-the
use of County property for personal gain. Further, as noted
above, Plaintiff has no constitutional right to probation,
and the promise alleged to have been made by Defendant
Boudreax is unenforceable and did not create a liberty or