United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Luis Mendez, currently an Inmate of the Delta Regional Unit
of the Arkansas Department of Correction ("ADC"),
has filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.
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. §
to the allegations of the Complaint, on May 13, 2009, Mendez
was convicted in the Washington County Circuit Court of rape,
attempted murder, aggravated residential burglary, and
aggravated assault. He was sentenced to a sixty-year (720
month) term of imprisonment.
at the time spoke no English. His first language is Spanish.
A translator who was employed by the prosecutor's office,
Joseph Thomas, but who was not certified and had failed when
he took the certification examination, was used to translate
an interrogation of Mendez by Detective Pena. Thomas'
translation indicated that Mendez had admitted his guilt.
John Threet represented the prosecutor's office. Herbert
Charles Southern represented Mendez.
offered in evidence a competing translation of the
interrogation by a certified interpreter/qualified translator
named Nicholas Durand. When Mendez was asked during the
interrogation if he tried to kill the victim, he responded by
asking why he would try to kill her, and Pena then suggested,
"Grabbing her by the neck?" In response to
Pena's question, Mendez either said, "I did
that"-which is the response that appears in Thomas's
translation-or "I did not do that-which is the response
that appears in Durand's translation. Obviously, the two
translations of Mendez's statement of guilt were
appealed his conviction to the Arkansas Supreme Court, and
the Court found that Thomas was not a qualified translator
and that his translation should not have been admitted into
evidence. See Exhibit B; Mendez v. State of
Arkansas, CR10-1241, 2011 WL 6275689 (Ark. Dec. 15,
2011) (appeal from Washington County Circuit Court No.
CR2009-792-1). As the translation contained an admission of
guilt, the Court found any error in the translation was not
harmless error. Id. The conviction was reversed and
remanded to the Washington County Circuit Court. Id.
Mendez now alleges in the instant lawsuit that the Washington
County Circuit Court did not act on the reverse-and-remand
relief, Mendez wants this Court to enter an order compelling
the Washington County Circuit Clerk to follow the mandate of
the Arkansas Supreme Court. Mendez also asks for compensatory
and punitive damages.
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; (2) fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or, (3) seek monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
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)).
1983 requires proof of two elements: (1) the conduct
complained of must be committed by a person acting under
color of state law, and (2) the conduct must deprive the
plaintiff of rights or ...