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Kendrick v. Missy

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

June 18, 2019

HOSEA L. KENDRICK PLAINTIFF
v.
ROBERT MISSY, Jail Administrator; KAREN GHORMLEY, Acting Jail Administrator; and ANTHONY S. BIDDLE, Managing Public Defender, Eighth Judicial District DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          SUSAN O. HICKEY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Plaintiff Hosea L. Kendrick. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. 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 must screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action pro se on April 11, 2019. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application was granted on April 26, 2019. (ECF No. 6). In response to this Court's order, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on June 10, 2019. (ECF No. 15).

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction - East Arkansas Regional Unit. The events at issue allegedly occurred while he was incarcerated in the Nevada County Detention Center (“NCDC”) in 2019. Plaintiff has named the following individuals as Defendants in his Amended Complaint: Robert Missy, the Jail Administrator for the NCDC; Karen Ghormley, the acting Jail Administrator for the NCDC; and Anthony S. Biddle, Plaintiff's public defender.

         Plaintiff alleges that in February 2019, “while in the Nevada County Jail, the Jail staff informed the inmates that we were not allowed to make lawyer call. So I filed a 1983 form because I felt like our rights was being violated.” (ECF No. 15, p. 4). Plaintiff alleges further that his Fourth, Eighth, and due process rights were violated. Plaintiff proceeds against Defendants in their individual and official capacities, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, along with the termination of Defendants' employment.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         Under the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen this 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)). 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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court will separately address Plaintiff's individual capacity claims against Defendant Biddle and Defendants Missy and Ghormley. The Court will then address Plaintiff's official capacity claims.

         A. Defendant Anthony Biddle

         Defendant Biddle served as Plaintiff's public defender during his criminal proceedings. A section 1983 complaint must allege that each defendant, acting under color of state law, deprived plaintiff of “rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also DuBose v. Kelly, 187 F.3d 999, 1002 (8th Cir. 1999). A public defender does not act under color of state law when performing a lawyer's traditional functions as counsel to a defendant in criminal proceedings.” Polk Cnty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 324 (1981).

         Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendant Biddle acted outside a lawyer's traditional functions as defense counsel at any time.[1] Thus, under Plaintiff's alleged facts, Defendant Biddle was not acting under color of state law while representing Plaintiff. Accordingly, Defendant Biddle is not subject to suit under section 1983.[2] For this reason, the Court finds Plaintiff has ...


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