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Marvel v. Barham

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

February 26, 2019

MICHAEL DALE MARVEL PLAINTIFF
v.
DEPUTY P.A. TYLER BARHAM, PUBLIC DEFENDER AUBREY BARR, SCOTT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SCOTT COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         The 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).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on December 28, 2018. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Scott County Detention Center and awaiting trial on his current charges. (ECF No. 1 at 2-3). He alleges Defendant Barham, the Scott County Sheriff's Office, and the Scott County Prosecutor's Office “wrongfully charged” him with a failure to register in Arkansas. (Id. at 4). He alleges he had informed the Sheriff's Office he was moving to Oklahoma, had registered in Oklahoma, and the warrant listed his address in Oklahoma. (Id.). Plaintiff specifically alleges:

The above defendants stated filed a failure to register warrant for me in Oct. 2016 while I was living and registered in the State of Oklahoma in Aug/Sept 2016. The Prosecuting Office and Sheriff[']s Office was aware of this because (1) I informed the Sheriff's Office where I was moving and gave them the address, (2) on the Affidavit for Warrant it states the address where I was living and registered in Oklahoma. The Sheriff[']s Office either didn't put information into the system or didn't put the information in correctly which caused them to file a warrant after the fact. Or the Sheriff[ʼ]s Office and Prosecutor took it upon themselves to file for a warrant. (Id. at 4-5). Plaintiff proceeds against these Defendants in both official and personal capacity. (Id.).

         Plaintiff further alleges Defendant Barr has provided inadequate legal services as his appointed public defender. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff proceeds against Defendant Barr in her personal capacity only. (Id.).

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 7).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under 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. § 1915A(b).

         A claim 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Scott County Sheriff's Office and Scott County Prosecutor's Office

          These offices are not persons or legal entities subject to suit under § 1983. See e.g., Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1214 (11th Cir. 1992) (“[s]heriff's departments and police departments are not usually considered legal entities subject to suit”); Young v. Hot Springs Police Dept., No. 6:16-CV-06062, 2016 WL 10655521, at *3 (W.D. Ark. Sept. 2, 2016), aff'd, 697 Fed.Appx. 469 (8th Cir. 2017) (Prosecuting attorney's office not subject to suit); Powell v. Cook County Jail, 814 F.Supp. 757 (N.D. Ill. 1993) (jail not subject to suit); Marsden v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 856 F.Supp. 832, 836 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (“jail is not an entity that is amenable to suit”); In re Scott County Master Docket, 672 F.Supp. 1152, 1163 n. 1 (D. Minn. 1987) (sheriff's department is not a legal entity subject to suit), aff'd, Myers v. Scott County, 863 F.2d 1017 (8th Cir. 1989).

         B. ...


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