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Langley v. Wallace

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

April 24, 2019

CLINT JEROME LANGLEY PLAINTIFF
v.
DETECTIVE ALEX WALLACE; SERGEANT HENRY BROCKMEYER; SHERIFF SHAWN HOLLOWAY; CAPTAIN JEREMY GUYLL; LIEUTENANT REBECCA HOLT; DR. BLAIR HOUSTON; JUDGE ROBIN GREEN; and JAY SAXTON DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES 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 February 13, 2019. At the time, he was incarcerated in the Benton County Jail and Sheriff's Office awaiting trial on pending criminal charges. He is currently committed to the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services ("DHS").[1] Plaintiff was directed to file a completed in forma pauperis application, which he did on March 4, 2019. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges several violations of his constitutional rights. According to Plaintiff, Judge Green, Public Defender Saxton, Captain Guyll, and Lieutenant Holt violated his First Amendment rights from March 26, 2018, through the time he filed his Complaint. He claims that Public Defender Saxton and Judge Green denied his request for a second opinion on January 2, 2019 and defamed his character.[2] (Doc. 1 at 5). Plaintiff further alleges that Captain Guyll and Lieutenant Holt deprived him of his right to practice a religious diet. Id. at 8. He does not identify either the religion or the diet at issue in his Complaint.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Detective Wallace violated his Fourth Amendment rights on March 26, 2018, by providing "a false material statement" in an affidavit to a judge, which resulted in a warrant executed by the Centerton SWAT team that defamed his character. Id. at 6. He contends his Fifth Amendment rights were violated from March 26, 2018, through the time he filed his Complaint by Detective Wallace, Sergeant Brockmeyer, and Public Defender Saxton. Detective Wallace supposedly conspired with Sergeant Brockmeyer by "providing false material statements on their police reports which led to [Plaintiff's] indictment." Id. at 7. And Saxton, Plaintiffs lawyer, supposedly accepted those statements as fact.

         Next, Plaintiff alleges that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated from March 26, 2018, through the time he filed his Complaint by Judge Green, Public Defender Saxton, and psychologist Blair Houston. He maintains that Saxton refused to provide him with effective assistance of counsel, withheld evidence, and tried to coerce him to plead guilty. Saxton also "hushed" him in court proceedings, tried to make him appear incompetent, and ordered a psychological evaluation for him. Id. at 11. Dr. Houston allegedly conspired with Saxton. Judge Green allegedly conspired with both Houston and Saxton and refused to suppress the psychological evaluation results and permit Plaintiff to seek a second opinion.

         As for Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights, he claims Judge Green denied him a bond reduction; and Sheriff Holloway and Captain Guyll made him drink water daily from a drinking fountain located in a public restroom and placed him in a cell of approximately 78 square feet with two other inmates, where he had to stay for 24-48 hours at a time and sleep 8-12 inches from the toilet.

         Finally, Plaintiff contends that his Ninth Amendment rights were violated in the jail when Sheriff Holloway, Captain Guyll, and Lieutenant Holt denied him an initial phone call on March 26, 2018, and refused to issue him an inmate ID number for a week. The lack of ID prevented him from utilizing the inmate kiosk grievance system. He also complains that the jail washes and reuses single-use eating utensils and does not serve hot meals sufficiently hot and cold meals sufficiently cold. Plaintiff also accuses staff of not being familiar with jail policies and of using profane language.

         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 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)). 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. DISCUSSION

         A. Claims Against Circuit Judge Robin Green

         Judge Green, a Benton County Circuit Judge, is immune from suit. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991) ("Judicial immunity is an immunity from suit, not just from ultimate assessment of damages."). See also Duty v. City of Springdale, 42 F.3d 460, 462 (8th Cir. 1994). "Judges performing judicial functions enjoy absolute immunity from § 1983 liability." Robinson v. Freeze, 15 F.3d 107, 108 (8th Cir. 1994). "A judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action [s]he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of [her] authority." Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978). Judicial immunity is overcome in two situations: (1) if the challenged act is nonjudicial; and, (2) if the action, although judicial in nature, was taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction. Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11. It is clear from the allegations of the Complaint that neither situation applies here. Plaintiffs claims against Judge Green are subject to dismissal.

         B. Claims Against Public ...


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