United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
HOLMES, III U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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. § 1915A(a).
filed her Complaint on December 30, 2019. (ECF No. 1).
Plaintiff alleges Deputy Prosecutor Houston and Circuit Court
Judge Fitzhugh conspired to knowingly violate her civil
rights from December 2017 to present. (Id. at 4-6).
Plaintiff proceeds against both Defendants in their official
and personal capacities. (Id. at 5). She seeks
compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 7).
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.
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)). 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).
claims are subject to dismissal because both Defendants are
immune from suit. As a prosecuting attorney, Defendant
Houston is immune from suit. A prosecutor is absolutely
immune from suit for any conduct undertaken in his or her
role as advocate for the state. Imbler v. Pachtman,
424 U.S. 409 (1976). Absolute prosecutorial immunity protects
the prosecutor as a key participant in the criminal justice
process, such that the prosecutor need not be inhibited from
performing his or her functions by a constant fear of
retaliation. Id. at 428. This is true no matter the
underlying motive of the prosecutor or the propriety of the
actions taken. Myers v. Morris, 810 F.2d. 1437, 1446
(8th Cir. 1987) (finding that allegations that a prosecutor
proceeded with a prosecution based on an improper motive did
not defeat absolute prosecutorial immunity); Schenk v.
Chavis, 461 F.3d 1043, 1046 (8th Cir. 2006)
(“Actions connected with initiation of prosecution,
even if those actions are patently improper are
immunized.” (internal quotation omitted)).
has alleged no facts concerning Defendant Houston to indicate
that he was acting outside his role as an advocate for the
state. Defendant Houston is therefore immune from suit.
Fitzhugh is an Arkansas Circuit Court Judge. As such, he 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 only 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
clear from the allegations of Plaintiff's Complaint that
neither situation applies here. Plaintiff's claims
against Judge Fitzhugh are subject to dismissal.