Jennifer Foster v. Amanda Fisher
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Motion disposition in opinion--denying Motion to appoint counsel [999922551-2] Originating case number: 1:14-cv-00292-MR-DSC Copies to all parties and the district court. . Mailed to: Jennifer Foster. [16-1792]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
JENNIFER NICOLE FOSTER,
Plaintiff - Appellant,
AMANDA FISHER, Magistrate, 28th Judicial District, State of North Carolina, in
her official and individual capacities; JACK VAN DUNCAN, Sheriff, Buncombe
County, North Carolina, in his official and individual capacities; JOHN DOE,
Buncombe County Sheriff Deputy Number One, in his official and individual
capacities; CALVIN HILL, Chief District Court Judge, 28”’ Judicial District, State
of North Carolina, in his official and individual capacities,
Defendants - Appellees.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina,
at Asheville. Martin K. Reidinger, District Judge. (1:14-cv-00292-MR-DSC)
Submitted: April 28, 2017
Decided: May 18, 2017
Before TRAXLER, SHEDD, and KEENAN, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Jennifer Nicole Foster, Appellant Pro Se. Grady L. Balentine, Jr., Special Deputy
Attorney General, Raleigh, North Carolina; Curtis William Euler, Asheville, North
Carolina, for Appellees.
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Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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Jennifer Nicole Foster filed a civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012) against
Magistrate Amanda Fisher, Chief District Judge Calvin Hill, and other defendants not
relevant to this appeal.
Foster appeals the district court’s orders adopting the
recommendation of the magistrate judge and granting the Defendants’ motions to dismiss
and denying Foster’s motion to alter or amend the judgment. We affirm.
First, Foster argues that the district court erred in rejecting her perjury claim
against Fisher. We agree with the district court that Foster has failed to articulate how
the alleged perjury amounts to a viable civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012).
Likewise, she fails to suggest that Fisher’s alleged perjury gives rise to a private right of
action absent a civil rights violation. In light of these determinations, we conclude that it
is unnecessary to evaluate Foster’s arguments regarding the district court’s application of
Rooker-Feldman * and absolute witness immunity.
Next, Foster contends that the district court erred in granting Fisher judicial
immunity as to Foster’s claims arising out of her arrest and detention. “[J]udges are
absolutely immune from suit for a deprivation of civil rights” for actions taken within
their jurisdiction. King v. Myers, 973 F.2d 354, 356 (4th Cir. 1992). “Magistrates are
Dist. Of Columbia Ct. App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fid.
Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923).
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judicial officers, and are thus entitled to absolute immunity under the same conditions as
are judges.” Id. However, to be entitled to immunity, the act taken must be a “judicial
act”—i.e., a “function [that is] normally performed by a judge, and [for which] the parties
dealt with the judge in his or her judicial capacity.” Id. (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). In addition, “[a] judge will not be deprived of immunity because the
action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority;
rather, he will be subject to liability only when he has acted in the clear absence of all
jurisdiction.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978) (internal quotation marks
omitted). After review of the record, we conclude that Fisher was performing a judicial
act, and that she did not act in the clear absence of all jurisdiction, as she was exercising
her statutorily-authorized contempt power. Accordingly, we conclude that the district
court correctly determined that Fisher is entitled to judicial immunity for any claims for
monetary relief arising out of the original contempt determination or Foster’s arrest and
Because judicial immunity does not apply to claims for equitable relief,
Timmerman v. Brown, 528 F.2d 811, 814 (4th Cir. 1975), we next consider whether the
district court erred in denying declaratory relief on Foster’s claims that Fisher violated
her constitutional rights by illegally arresting and convicting her and by detaining her
through improper bond procedures. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its
discretion in declining to grant Foster declaratory relief because Foster has failed to
demonstrate that doing so would relieve any “uncertainty, insecurity, and controversy.”
Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Ind-Com Elec. Co., 139 F.3d 419, 422 (4th Cir. 1998).
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Finally, Foster contends that the district court erred in rejecting her allegations that
Hill is liable for Fisher’s constitutional violations based on his role as Chief Judge of
North Carolina’s 28th Judicial District. To establish a claim of supervisory liability
under § 1983, Foster must show that (1) Hill had knowledge that Fisher engaged in
conduct that posed a pervasive and unreasonable risk of constitutional injury; (2) Hill’s
response to this knowledge was sufficiently inadequate to amount to deliberate
indifference; and (3) there was a causal link between Hill’s inaction and the constitutional
injury. Wilkins v. Montgomery, 751 F.3d 214, 226 (4th Cir. 2014). Foster has failed to
satisfy this burden, as she cannot demonstrate that Hill had supervisory authority over
Fisher, much less that he provided an inadequate response to known problematic conduct
that was causally related to Foster being held in contempt.
Accordingly, we deny Foster’s motion to appoint counsel and affirm the judgment
of the district court.
We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal
contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument
would not aid the decisional process.
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