Townsend v. Jones et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 10/6/2016. (KEK)
2016 Oct-06 AM 10:02
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
MICHAEL JONES, et al.,
Case No. 1:16-cv-00377-MHH-SGC
On June 30, 2016, the magistrate judge filed a report in which she reviewed
Mr. Townsend’s pro se complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) and
recommended that the Court dismiss this action without prejudice for failing to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. 15). The magistrate judge
advised Mr. Townsend of his right to file specific written objections to the report
within fourteen (14) days. The Court has not received written objections from Mr.
Townsend, but Mr. Townsend filed a “Motion to Proceed Final Amend Complaint”
(Doc. 16) and a “Motion to Supplement Evidence” (Doc. 17). Mr. Townsend also
filed a “Motion to Compel For Injunctive Relief Probable Cause Determination”
(Doc. 13) and a “Motion Supplementing Evidence” (Doc. 14) before the magistrate
judge filed her report.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A district court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or part, the findings
or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
When a party objects to a report, a district court must “make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(B)-(C). A
district court reviews legal conclusions in a report de novo and reviews for plain
error factual findings to which no objection is made. Garvey v. Vaughn, 993 F.2d
776, 779 n. 9 (11th Cir. 1993); see also LoConte v. Dugger, 847 F.2d 745, 749
(11th Cir. 1988); Macort v. Prem, Inc., 208 Fed. Appx. 781, 784 (11th Cir. 2006).
For purposes of this discussion, the Court treats Mr. Townsend’s “Motion to
Proceed Final Amend Complaint” (Doc. 16) and his “Motion to Supplement
Evidence” (Doc. 17) as objections to the magistrate judge’s report and
In his motions, Mr. Townsend repeats and reiterates the
allegations in his original and amended complaints.
In short, Mr. Townsend
contends that he was arrested on state criminal charges without probable cause in
violation of his constitutional rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendments, and he asks the Court to enjoin the state court criminal proceedings.
(Doc. 11; Doc. 16, pp. 4-7; Doc. 17, pp. 1-2). He alleges that the complaint that
led to his 1991 arrest for first degree rape was unconstitutional, so that his 2015
arrest for violation of the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community
Notification Act (“ASORCNA”) was without probable cause. (See Docs. 11, 16,
He asks this Court to order the “state authorities” to give him a
“determination of probable cause.” (Doc. 16, p. 5).
The magistrate judge accurately explained to Mr. Townsend why the relief
he seeks in this federal action is not available to him. Pursuant to Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), a federal district court must abstain from consideration
of constitutional claims when the claims arise out of an ongoing state prosecution.
Id., 401 U.S. at 45; see also Wexler v. Lepore, 385 F.3d 1336, 1339 (11th Cir.
2004) (citations omitted). This Court must “assume that state procedures will
afford an adequate remedy, in the absence of unambiguous authority to the
contrary.” Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481 U.S. 1, 15 (1987). Mr. Townsend has
not alleged that he lacks the opportunity to challenge probable cause in the state
court proceeding. Because Younger abstention is appropriate, the magistrate judge
properly concluded that Mr. Townsend’s request for injunctive relief must be
dismissed. (Doc. 11, p. 3; Doc. 16, p. 5).1
Mr. Townsend has not requested an award of compensatory damages. If he had, as the
magistrate judge pointed out, the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity would bar a damages
claim against Judge Fannin because “[j]udges are entitled to absolute judicial immunity from
damages for those acts taken while they are acting in their judicial capacity unless they acted in
the clear absence of all jurisdiction. This immunity applies even when the judge’s acts are in
Having carefully reviewed and considered the materials in the court file, the
Court accepts the magistrate judge’s recommendation and dismisses this action
without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
A Final Judgment will be entered.
DONE and ORDERED this October 6, 2016.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
error, malicious, or were in excess of his or her jurisdiction.” Sibley v. Lando, 437 F.3d 1067,
1070 (11th Cir. 2005).
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