Balcom v. Blumenfeld et al (INMATE 1)

Filing 4

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Mag Judge that this case be dismissed with prejudice prior to service of process pursuant to the provisions of 28U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i); Objections to R&R due by 9/14/2009. Signed by Honorable Wallace Capel, Jr on 9/1/09. (djy, )

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA SOUTHERN DIVISION R O N A L D DEVONE BALCOM, #158439, ) Plaintiff, v. JACK BLUMENFELD, et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:09-CV-814-TMH ) [WO] ) ) ) ) RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE In this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, Ronald Devone Balcom ["Balcom"], a state inmate, complains that his attorneys provided ineffective assistance during proceedings related to sentences imposed upon him by the Circuit Court of Houston County, Alabama. Upon review of the complaint, the court concludes that dismissal of this case prior to service of process is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).1 DISCUSSION Balcom asserts that Jack Blumenfeld and Mark Johnson, attorneys who represented him in criminal proceedings before the Circuit Court of Houston County, Alabama, deprived him of effective assistance in violation of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff's Complaint - Court Doc. No. 1 at 2-3. Balcom asserts defendant Johnson provided The court granted Balcom leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this cause of action. Court Doc. No. 3. A prisoner who is allowed to proceed in forma pauperis will have his complaint screened under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B) which requires this court to dismiss a prisoner's civil action prior to service of process if it determ ines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). 1 erroneous advice during a proceeding on August 11, 2008 addressing the status of his probation and split sentence. Id. at 3. Balcom further complains neither attorney acted on his behalf at the aforementioned proceeding which resulted in the revocation of his "suspended sentence probation and split sentence...." Id. In addition, Balcom alleges "[n]either attorney filed an appeal and Mark Johnson mislead (sic) [him] so that appeal deadline had expired." Id. These claims entitle Balcom to no relief in this cause of action. An essential element of a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action is that a person acting under color of state law committed the asserted constitutional deprivation. American Manufacturers Mutual Ins. Company v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 119 S.Ct. 977, 985, 143 L.Ed.2d 130 (1999); Willis v. University Health Services, Inc., 993 F.2d 837, 840 (11th Cir. 1993). To state a [viable] claim for relief in an action brought under 1983, [a plaintiff] must establish that [he was] deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that the alleged deprivation was committed under color of state law.... [T]he under-color-of-state-law element of 1983 excludes from its reach "`merely private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful,'" Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1002, 102 S.Ct. 2777, 73 L.Ed.2d 534 (1982) (quoting Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 13, 68 S.Ct. 836, 92 L.Ed. 1161 (1948)).... [Consequently,] state action requires both an alleged constitutional deprivation "caused by the exercise of some right or privilege created by the State or by a rule of conduct imposed by the State or by a person for whom the State is responsible," and that "the party charged with the deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a state actor." Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982); see Flagg Bros., Inc. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 156, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 56 L.Ed.2d 185 ( 19 78 ). " American Manufacturers, 526 U.S. at 49-50, 119 S.Ct. at 985 (footnote omitted) (emphasis in original). 2 The law is well settled that an attorney who represents an accused in criminal proceedings does not act under color of state law. Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981); Mills v. Criminal District Court No. 3, 837 F.2d 677, 679 (5th Cir. 1988) ("[P]rivate attorneys, even court-appointed attorneys, are not official state actors and ... are not subject to suit under section 1983."). Since the conduct about which Balcom complains was not committed by a person acting under color of state law, the 1983 claims asserted against Jack Blumenfeld and Mark Johnson are frivolous as these claims lack an arguable basis in law. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).2 The instant case is therefore due to be summarily dismissed in accordance with the directives of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). CONCLUSION Accordingly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that this case be dismissed with prejudice prior to service of process pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). It is further ORDERED that on or before September 14th , 2009 the parties may file objections to this Recommendation. Any objections filed must specifically identify the findings in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation to which the party is objecting. Frivolous, conclusive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are advised that this Recommendation is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not a pp ea la bl e. Although Neitzke interpreted the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(d), the predecessor to 1915(e)(2), the analysis contained therein remains applicable to the directives contained in the present statute. 2 3 Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings and advisements in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the District Court of issues covered in the Recommendation and shall bar the party from attacking on appeal factual findings in the Recommendation accepted or adopted by the District Court except upon grounds of plain error or manifest injustice. Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404 (5th Cir. 1982). See Stein v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 33 (11th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206 (11th Cir. 1981, en banc), adopting as binding precedent all of the decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981. Done this 1s t day of September, 2009. /s/ Wallace Capel, Jr. WALLACE CAPEL, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 4

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