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West v. Ramsey

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

August 15, 2019

BEVERLY WEST PLAINTIFF
v.
JUDGE DALE RAMSEY and THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff proceeds in this matter pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which an individual has sought leave to proceed IFP.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint on July 16, 2019. On July 17, 2019, the Court entered Orders directing her to provide a completed IFP application and an Amended Complaint. (Docs. 6, 7). Plaintiff did soon August 7, 2019. (Docs. 8, 9). Plaintiff was granted IFP status on August 8, 2019.

         Plaintiff brings her claims in both this and her underlying state court case as a "sovereign citizen." (Doc. 8 at 16-18, 28-29, 32). In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges her Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights were violated "in open court, and following court" on May 4, 2018. id. at 3-4. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Judge Dale Ramsey instructed his clerks to stop accepting paperwork from her. id. at 4. Plaintiff alleges this denied her access to the court, id. at 5. With her Complaint, Plaintiff attached a district court session worksheet and an Order signed by Judge Ramsey on May 4, 2018. The worksheet indicated that Plaintiffs state case involved a traffic charge for disregarding a stop sign. Id. at 37. The Order stated that Plaintiff's self-styled "Judgment" filed in that case was not granted because it was "out of order," and there was "no basis under Arkansas Law or the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure for the filing of a 'Counterclaim' in a traffic case." Id. at 38.

         Plaintiff also alleges these actions violated her rights under "18 U.S.C. § 242; color of law" by not granting her counterclaim. Id. at 4. Plaintiff proceeds against the Third Judicial District Court in its official capacity only. She fails to indicate the capacity in which she proceeds against Defendant Ramsey. Id. at 2. She seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 5.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 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." Neltzke 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. Judge Dale Ramsey

         Judge Ramsey, a Carroll County District Court Judge, [1] 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 and documents attached to the Amended Complaint that neither situation applies here. Plaintiffs claims against Defendant Ramsey are subject to dismissal.

         B. Third Judicial District Court

         A District Court is not a person or a legal entity subject to suit under § 1983. See, e.g., Harris v. Missouri Ct of Appeals, W. Dist,787 F.2d 427, 429 (8th Cir. 1986) (a court is not a "person" within the meaning of the Civil Rights Act.). "Likewise, courts as entities are not vulnerable to § 1983 suits, because they are protected by state immunity under the eleventh amendment." Id. ...


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