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Murchison v. Bocume

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

September 9, 2019

SHAWN MURCHISON PLAINTIFF
v.
LYNNE BOCUME, Police, Ashdown; ANTONIO MAY, Police Officer/State Trooper, Ashdown/Hope; GINA BUTLER, Administrator, Little River County Jail; JANET FONDRONE, Bondsman, Ashdown; MICKEY BUCCANON, Attorney, Ashdown; and TOM COOPER, JUDGE, ASHDOWN DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Shawn Murchison filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on July 31, 2019, in the Eastern District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 2). On August 2, 2019, the case was transferred to the Western District of Arkansas, Texarkana Division. (ECF No. 4). In response to this Court's order, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on August 15, 2019, on the Court's approved form, to clarify his claims against the Defendants. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 9). The case is currently before the Court for preservice screening under provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction-Delta Regional Unit. His claims in the instant lawsuit arise out of his arrest, bail, prosecution, and subsequent conviction in Little River County, Arkansas. Plaintiff names the following individuals as Defendants in this action: (1) Lynne Bocume, a police officer in Ashdown, Arkansas; (2) Antonio May, a police officer or state trooper in Ashdown or Hope, Arkansas; (3) Gina Butler, the Jail Administrator at the Little River County Jail; (4) Janet Fondrone, a Bondsman in Ashdown, Arkansas; (5) Mickey Buccanon, Plaintiff's defense attorney; and (6) Judge Tom Cooper, a state court judge in Ashdown, Arkansas.

         Plaintiff was arrested on October 31, 2017, after he was pulled over for what he claims was a misdemeanor. (ECF No. 7, p. 3). Plaintiff alleges that in October 2017, Defendant Bocume “for no reason stalked me and my family for 3 nights at or campground . . . the day before I was charged with a meth pipe . . . found under the rear seat, Mr Mays I beleave planted it his self[.]” (Id. at p. 2). Plaintiff goes on to state, [Bocume] had no right to be around my family . . . or to have me followed in two different counties, and Mays shouldn't go around threating folks as there being booked into Jail.” (Id. at p. 4).[1]

         Next, Plaintiff claims Defendants Butler and Foundron “told my friend's wife they would not allow her to bond me out And her husband couldn't bond me out, they wouldn't allow it . . . And I had a bond set by a Judge. Why they said I couldn't be bonded out.” (Id. at p. 4).

         In addition, Plaintiff claims his defense attorney Defendant Buccanon “did nothing but threating me to take a plea for a pipe I didn't posseses in my vehicle or on my body. Mickey said take this 6 yr pleas or you will have two 15 year sentences stacked to run consecutively.” (Id. at p. 5). Plaintiff also lists Judge Tom Cooper as a Defendant but does not make any specific allegations against him in the Amended Complaint. (Id.).

         Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants in their official and personal capacities. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at p. 6).

         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 Atlantic 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. ANALYSIS

         A. Defense Attorney Defendant Buccanon

         Defendant Buccanon-Plaintiff's public defender during his criminal proceedings-is not subject to suit under section 1983. 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). Defendant Buccanon was not acting under color of state law while representing Plaintiff in his criminal proceedings. See Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 324 (1981) (“a public defender does not act under color of state law when performing a lawyer's ...


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