United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS JUDGE
Markeith Agnew, currently an inmate of the Benton County
Detention Center ("BCDC"), has filed this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds
pro se and in forma pauperis.
Complaint (Doc. 1) 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.
to the allegations of the Complaint, on September 1, 2018,
Officer Rankin had received a call about a robbery. Even
though Plaintiffs car did not match the description of the
car used in the robbery, Plaintiff alleges that when Officer
Rankin pulled up "next to me [and] seen what I looked
like," he initiated a traffic stop. Plaintiff believes
his race (Black) was a part of the reason he was pulled over.
as Plaintiff pulled over, he asserts that Officer Rankin,
without a warrant or probable cause, began to search the
passenger area of the car and truck and found nothing
illegal. Plaintiffs glove compartment was locked, and when it
was opened, it contained two firearms. Plaintiff alleges the
firearms were legal.
contends he was arrested on fraudulent charges. As a result,
Plaintiff asserts he has "lost everything;" his
name has been slandered; and he missed the birth of his
child. As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages for
his pain and suffering, his name being slandered, and his
vehicle's value. He also seeks punitive damages.
is currently charged in the name of Timon Agnew a/k/a Timon
Montavious Agnew, in the Benton County Circuit Court with
aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, terroristic
threatening, and solicitation for witness bribery. State
v. Agnew, 04-CR-18-1945; State v. Agnew,
04-CR-18-2366. The offense date for the charges in both
cases is September 1, 2018. Reference to the current docket
sheets show that the cases are still open, and Plaintiff has
a pre-trial hearing scheduled for March 18, 2019, in both
to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), federal
courts are required to abstain from hearing cases when
"(1) there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding which
(2) implicates important state interests, and when (3) that
proceeding affords an adequate opportunity to raise the
federal questions presented." Norwood v.
Dickey, 409 F.3d 901, 903 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Fuller v. Ulland, 76 F.3d 957, 959 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Plaintiffs state criminal cases are ongoing. Ongoing state
criminal proceedings implicate the important state interest
of enforcing state criminal law, and constitutional claims
relating to that proceeding should be raised there. See,
e.g., Gillette v. N.D. Disc. Bd. Counsel, 610 F.3d 1045,
1046 (8th Cir. 2010). With respect to Plaintiffs claims that
he was arrested without probable cause and his vehicle was
unlawfully searched, Plaintiff may raise these constitutional
claims in his state criminal cases and move for the
suppression of any evidence unlawfully obtained.
all three questions are answered affirmatively, a federal
court should abstain unless it detects 'bad faith,
harassment, or some extraordinary circumstance that would
make abstention inappropriate.'" Night Clubs,
Inc. v. City of Ft Smith, Ark., 163 F.3d 475, 479 (8th
Cir. 1998) (quoting Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm. v.
Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 435 (1982)).
There is no evidence of bad faith or other extraordinary
only equitable relief is sought, Younger
"contemplates the outright dismissal of the federal
suit, and the presentation of all claims, both state and
federal to the state courts." Gibson v.
Berryhill, 411 U.S. 564, 577 (1973) (a § 1983 case
involving only injunctive relief, and not damages). In cases
where damages are sought, the Eighth Circuit has noted that
the Supreme Court instructs that traditional abstention
principles generally require a stay as the appropriate mode
of abstention rather than a dismissal. Night Clubs,
163 F.3d at 481. In Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 517 U.S. 706 (1996), the Court said:
In those cases in which we have applied traditional
abstention principles to damages actions, we have only
permitted a federal court to withhold action until the state
proceedings have concluded, that is, we have permitted
federal courts applying abstention principles in damages
actions to enter ...