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King v. Bevis

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

May 16, 2019

BRANDON KING PLAINTIFF
v.
DAVID BEVIS, Russellville Police Department, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          KRISTINE G. BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Brandon King, who is currently an inmate at the Pope County Detention Center, filed a pro se complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on November 23, 2018, naming as defendants David Bevis and Dustin Mora of the Russellville Police Department, Pope County Jail Captain Rowdy Sweet, and Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones (Dkt. No. 2). Pending before the Court is Mr. King's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and motion for status update (Dkt. Nos. 1, 3).

         I. In Forma Pauperis Application

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), a prisoner who is permitted to file a civil action in forma pauperis still must pay the full statutory filing fee of $350.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The only question is whether a prisoner will pay the entire filing fee at the initiation of the proceeding or in installments over a period of time. Ashley v. Dilworth,, 147 F.3d 715, 716 (8th Cir. 1998). Even if a prisoner is without assets and unable to pay an initial filing fee, she will be allowed to proceed with her § 1983 claims, and the filing fee will be collected by the Court in installments from the prisoner's inmate trust account. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4).

         If the prisoner's case is subsequently dismissed for any reason, including a determination that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief, the full amount of the $350.00 filing fee will be collected, and no portion of this filing fee will be refunded to the prisoner. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) ("Notwithstanding subsection (a), if a prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis, the prisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing fee."); see also Jackson v. N.P. Dodge Realty Co., 173 F.Supp.2d 951, 952 (D. Neb. 2001) ("The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) makes prisoners responsible for their filing fees the moment the prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal. Thus, when an application to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) is filed in such a case, 'the only issue is whether the inmate pays the entire fee at the initiation of the proceeding or over a period of time under an installment plan.'") (citations omitted) (quoting Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 483 (8th Cir. 1997)).

         Mr. King has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (Dkt. No. 1). Accordingly, Mr. King's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Based on the information contained in Mr. King's account information sheet, the Court will not assess an initial partial filing fee. Mr. King will be obligated to make monthly payments in the amount of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to Mr. King's prison trust account each time the amount in the account exceeds $10.00 until the $350.00 filing fee is fully paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. Background

         Mr. King alleges that on October 30, 2018, he was sitting in a friend's car in the parking lot of the Park Motel in Russellville, Arkansas, when Officers of the Russellville Police Department detained him (Dkt. No. 2, at 4). Several hours later, following the Officers' discovery of a firearm during a search of Room #19, the Officers charged Mr. King with unlawfully discharging a firearm, possession of a firearm by certain persons, and criminal mischief (Id.). Based on the allegations in his complaint, Mr. King is currently being held in the Pope County Detention Center awaiting trial on those charges (Id., at 3, 5). He maintains his innocence (Id., at 5). Specifically, Mr. King explains that: he did not discharge a firearm and was not in possession or the vicinity of a firearm; the hotel room that the officers searched was not booked in his name; and he was never tested for gun residue at the time of his arrest (Id). He seeks damages (Id., at 6).

         III. Screening

         The PLRA requires federal courts to screen prisoner complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that: (a) are legally frivolous or malicious; (b) fail to state a claim upon which relief King be granted; or (c) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b). The in forma pauperis statute also imposes these standards for dismissal. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         An action is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "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 reviewing the sufficiency of a pro se complaint under the Court's screening function, the Court must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The Court also must weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992). Although pro se complaints are to be liberally construed, the complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).

         IV. Discussion

         In Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), the Supreme Court held that federal courts should abstain from interfering in ongoing state-court proceedings. The Court explained the rationale for such abstention as follows:

[The concept of federalism] represent[s] ... a system in which there is sensitivity to the legitimate interests of both State and National Governments, and in which the National Government, anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal rights and federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways ...

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