Couey v. McKathan (INMATE2)

Filing 4

RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that plaitniff's 1 Inmate 1983 Complaint be dismissed with prejudice prior to service of process as further set out in order. Objections to R&R due by 11/23/2005. Signed by Judge Charles S. Coody on 11/10/05. (sl, )

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Couey v. McKathan (INMATE2) Doc. 4 Case 2:05-cv-01054-MHT-CSC Document 4 Filed 11/10/2005 Page 1 of 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION __________________________________ E D W A R D FOLSOM CONEY P l a in tif f , v. J U D G E ASHLEY MCKATHAN * * * CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:05-CV-1054-T (W O ) * D e f e n d a n t. * __________________________________ R E C O M M E N D A T I O N OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE P la in tif f is currently incarcerated in the Covington County Jail located in Andalusia, A la b a m a . He files this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against the Honorable Ashley McKathan alleg ing that he denied Plaintiff a fair hearing and fair trial during his criminal court p ro c e e d in g s which violated Plaintiff's right to due process of law. Plaintiff requests d is m is s a l of the charges against him and monetary damages. Upon review of the pleadings f ile d in this case, the court concludes that dismissal of the complaint is appropriate under 28 U .S .C . 1915(e)(2)(B).1 I. DISCUSSION P lain tiff complains that Judge McKathan denied him due process during his state A prisoner who is allowed to proceed in forma pauperis in this court will have his complaint screened in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). This screening procedure requires the court to dismiss a prisoner's civil action prior to service of process if it determines 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 Case 2:05-cv-01054-MHT-CSC Document 4 Filed 11/10/2005 Page 2 of 5 c o u rt criminal proceedings. The conduct about which Plaintiff complains emanates from ju d ic ia l actions taken by Judge McKathan in his capacity as a state circuit judge. As such, th e claims entitle Plaintiff to no relief. A . The Claims Against Judge McKathan 1 . The Request for Monetary Damages It is clear that all of the allegations made by Plaintiff against Judge McKathan em an ate from actions taken by this defendant in his judicial capacity during state court p ro c e e d in g s over which he had jurisdiction. The law is well established that a state judge is a b s o lu te ly immune from civil liability for acts taken pursuant to his judicial authority. F o r r e ste r v. White, 484 U. S. 219, 227-229 (1988); Paisey v. Vitale in and for Broward C o u n ty , 807 F.2d 889 (11th Cir. 1986); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978). A c c o rd in g ly, Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages against Judge McKathan are "based o n an indisputably meritless legal theory" and are, therefore, due to be dismissed upon a p p lic a tio n of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(I) and (iii). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 3 2 7 (1989).2 2 . The Request for Declaratory/Injunctive Relief T o the extent that Plaintiff seeks declaratory and/or injunctive relief as a result of ru lin g s or decisions issued during proceedings before the Circuit Court for Covington C o u n ty, this court lacks jurisdiction to render such judgment in an action filed pursuant to 2 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 of the present statute. 2 Case 2:05-cv-01054-MHT-CSC Document 4 Filed 11/10/2005 Page 3 of 5 4 2 U.S.C. 1983. A federal court has no jurisdiction or right to grant relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 with respect to challenges to state court decisions in particular cases arising out of s ta te court proceedings even if those challenges allege that the court's action was u n c o n st it u ti o n a l. District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1 9 8 3 ); Datz v. Kilgore, 51 F.3d 252 (11 th Cir. 1995); cf. Berman v. Florida Board of Bar E x a m in e r s , 794 F.2d 1529 (11 th Cir. 1986). An action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 m a y not be used as a substitute to appeal a decision of a state circuit court. Datz, 51 F.3d at 2 5 4 (finding that a 1983 suit arising from alleged erroneous decisions of a state court is m ere ly a prohibited appeal of the state court judgment); Rolleston v. Eldridge, 848 F.2d 163 (11 th Cir. 1988). Likewise, a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action may not be used to compel a state court to take a particular course of action because this court has no authority to issue a writ d ire c tin g state courts or their judicial officers in the performance of their duties. Lamar v. 1 1 8 Judicial Dist. Court of Texas, 440 F.2d 383, 384 (5 th Cir. 1971); Haggard v. State of T e n n e ss e e , 421 F.2d 1384, 1386 (6 th Cir.1970); Gurley v. Superior Court of Mecklenburg C o u n ty , 411 F.2d 586, 587 (4 th Cir. 1969). B . The Habeas Claims T o the extent Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief which would result in his release, his a c tio n must be dismissed under the Supreme Court decision in Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 4 7 5 (1973). In that case, the Court held that a prisoner who challenges the fact or duration o f his confinement and seeks an immediate or speedier release may not seek such relief in 3 Case 2:05-cv-01054-MHT-CSC Document 4 Filed 11/10/2005 Page 4 of 5 a 1983 action but must file a petition for writ of habeas corpus. See also Heck v. H u m p h r e y , 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In light of the foregoing, dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint prior to service of process is appropriate under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). II. CONCLUSION A c c o rd in g ly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's c o m p la in t be DISMISSED with prejudice prior to service of process under the provisions of 2 8 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i-iii). It is further O R D E R E D that the parties are DIRECTED to file any objections to the said R e c o m m e n d a tio n on or before November 23, 2005. Any objections filed must specifically id e n tif y the findings in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation objected to. Frivolous, co n clus ive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are a d v is e d that this Recommendation is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not a p p e a la b le . F a ilu re to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations in the M a g i s tr a t e Judge's report shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the District C o u rt of issues covered in the report and shall bar the party from attacking on appeal factual f in d in g s in the report accepted or adopted by the District Court except upon grounds of plain e rr o r or manifest injustice. Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404 (5 th Cir. 1982). See Stein 4 Case 2:05-cv-01054-MHT-CSC Document 4 Filed 11/10/2005 Page 5 of 5 v . Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 33 (11 th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of P r ic h a r d , 661 F.2d 1206 (11 th Cir. 1981, en banc), adopting as binding precedent all of the d e c is io n s of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on S e p te m b e r 30, 1981. D o n e this 10 th day of November, 2005. /s/Charles S. Coody CHARLES S. COODY C H IE F UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 5

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