United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
CODY S. HOWARD PLAINTIFF
MILLER COUNTY COURT, et al. DEFENDANTS
O. Hickey United States District Judge.
case is before the Court for preservice screening under the
provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”). Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court must
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).
Cody S. Howard originally filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 in the Eastern District of Arkansas. (ECF
No. 1). On August 13, 2018, the matter was transferred to
this Court. (ECF No. 2). The original Complaint listed the
Miller County Court, Miller County Jail, and Miller County
DHS Office as Defendants. On August 14, 2018, the Court
entered an order directing Plaintiff to file an Amended
Complaint on the court approved form for this District. The
Court's order advised Plaintiff that the originally named
Defendants are buildings and not persons who are subject to
suit. The Order further stated:
Plaintiff must write short, plain statements telling the
Court: the constitutional right Plaintiff believes was
violated; the name of the Defendant (individual) who violated
the right; exactly what the Defendant did or failed to do;
how the action or inaction of that Defendant is connected to
the violation of the constitutional rights; and what specific
injury Plaintiff suffered because of the misconduct of that
Defendant. Plaintiff must repeat this process for each person
he has named as a Defendant. Plaintiff is CAUTIONED that he
must affirmatively link the conduct of each named Defendant
with the specific injury he suffered. If he fails to do so,
the allegations against that Defendant will be dismissed for
failure to state a claim.
(ECF No. 5) (internal citations omitted).
August 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF
No. 6). Plaintiff names the following Defendants to the
action: Jeffie Walker, Warden, Miller County Detention
Facility; Jackie Runion, Sheriff, Miller County; Krista
Kirkwood, Crimes Against Children Division (CACD)
Investigator; Caron Estell, DHS Caseworker; Stephanie Black,
Prosecutor; David Cotton, Prosecutor; Connie Mitchell,
Prosecutor; Chuck Black, Prosecutor; Dorothy Jackson,
Caseworker, DHS; Keshia Baker, DHS; Rachel Speights, DHS;
Kenoshia Brown, DHS; Laurie L. Alexander-Stephens, DHS; Zach
White, Detective; Brian Tribble, Detective; David Parker,
Detective; Joshua Jones, Detective; Kayla Cigainero,
Detective; Jason Mitchell, Public Defender; Kerry Wood,
Public Defender; Brent Haltom, Judge.
Amended Complaint states two claims. Plaintiff's first
claim is for “slandering of name, false imprisonment,
defamation of character, mental anguish, loss of wages,
racial profiling, punitive damages, and pain and
suffering.” (ECF No. 6, p. 4). Under Plaintiff's
description of the claim, he alleges that “the parties
involved” refused to properly investigate false
allegations that led to his false imprisonment. Plaintiff
asserts his first claim against Defendants Walker, Runion,
Black, Cotton, Mitchell, Black, Estell, Kirkwood, Jackson,
Baker, Alexander-Stephens, Speights, Brown, Parker, Haltom,
White, Tribble, Jones, and Cigainero.
second claim is for “ineffective assistance of
counsel.” (ECF No. 6, p. 5). Plaintiff asserts this
claim against Defendants Wood and Mitchell, both Public
Defenders. (ECF No. 6, p. 5). Plaintiff states that Defendant
Mitchell assigned Defendant Wood to be his attorney.
Plaintiff further alleges that he has not received proper
attention and counseling from Defendant Wood. Plaintiff seeks
to be assigned another attorney.
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 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. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).
However, 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).
discussed above, Plaintiff asserts two claims. The Court will
first address Plaintiff's claim of slander, defamation,
and false imprisonment. The Court will then address