McAdams v. King et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge L Scott Coogler on 10/25/2017. (PSM)
2017 Oct-25 PM 02:07
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JOSEPH BERNARD McADAMS,
JULIAN M. KING, Talladega County )
Senior Judge, et al.,
Case No. 1:17-cv-00021-LSC-JEO
The magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on July 27, 2017,
recommending that this action be dismissed without prejudice for failing to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). (Doc.
12). The plaintiff was notified of his right to file objections within fourteen (14)
days of the report and recommendation (id.), and on August 14, 2017, the court
received the plaintiff’s objections. 1 (Doc. 13).
In his objections, the plaintiff concedes that defendants Judge Jeb Fannin
and Clerk Clarence Haynes are due to be dismissed. (Doc. 13 at 4). While the
The plaintiff’s objections are dated August 6, 2017, making them timely filed. See
Adams v. U.S., 173 F.3d 1339, 1341 (11th Cir. 1999) (holding that filings by pro se prisoners are
deemed filed on the date such filings are delivered to prison authorities for mailing). “Absent
evidence to the contrary,” the court “assume[s] that [the prisoner’s filing] was delivered to prison
authorities the day he signed it.” Daker v. Comm’r, Georgia Dep’t of Corr., 820 F.3d 1278,
1286 (11th Cir. 2016) (quoting Washington v. United States, 243 F.3d 1299, 1301 (11th Cir.
plaintiff does not make the same concession as to defendants Circuit Clerk Brian
York, Assistant District Attorney David Argo, the Alabama Board of Pardons and
Paroles, the Alabama Attorney General, the Governor of Alabama, and the Chief
Justice of Alabama, he fails to object to the magistrate judge’s determination that
the amended complaint (doc. 10) failed to allege any facts specifically associating
these defendants with any constitutional violation. (See Doc. 12 at 8-9, 20, 21).
I. Objections Based on the Validity of the Arrest Warrant
The plaintiff’s objections focus on whether the complaint and arrest warrant
issued by Patricia Davenport on November 6, 2015, was based on probable cause
and whether she had authority to issue it.2 The plaintiff’s first series of objections
concern whether a Circuit Clerk has the authority to determine probable cause for
arrest. (Doc. 13 at 1-2, 21-22, 24). The law is well established that state court clerk
The plaintiff refers to “Patricia Davenport” as both Municipal Clerk for the City of
Sylacauga and the Circuit Court Clerk for Talladega County. (Doc. 13 at 2, 3, 5, 20, 28). Her
signature appears on both the Complaint and Writ of Arrest issued by the District Court of
Talladega County for Robbery Third Degree, over the check box “Magistrate.” See State of
Alabama v. McAdams, DC-2015-100719.00 (Talladega County, Ala.). From a review of the
Talladega County, Alabama, website, Davenport appears to be neither a Sylacauga municipal
clerk nor the Talladega Circuit Clerk. Rather, “Patty Davenport” is listed as an employee of the
Talladega District Court Clerk’s Office. http://talladega.alacourt.gov/Pages/Directory.aspx.
Although the magistrate judge found defendant Davenport entitled to immunity in
signing the arrest warrant as a circuit clerk (doc. 12 at 21-22), rather than as a magistrate, the
same logic for applying immunity is present. In addition to district clerk offices being state
agencies for purposes of immunity, Ala. Code. § 12-17-80, when a clerk or magistrate issues
warrants, the immunity of a judge extends to the clerk. See e.g., Williams v. Wood, 612 F.2d
982, 985 (5th Cir. 1980) (“A clerk of a federal court performing routine duties such as entering
an order and notifying parties does not enjoy an absolute immunity from damages actions for
injuries caused by that conduct.”).
office employees can and do regularly issue warrants. Under Alabama law, state
court circuit clerks have the authority to “sign and issue all summons, subpoenas,
writs, executions, and other processes, under the authority of the court.” § 12-1794(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975, as amended. Moreover, district court clerks may
be designated as magistrates and are provided the authority to issue arrest warrants.
See Ala. Code § 12-17-251 (b) and (c). The plaintiff’s assertion that defendant
Davenport lacked the authority to issue an arrest warrant is without merit.
Although the plaintiff cites Shadwick v. City of Tampa, 407 U.S. 345 (1972),
in support of his belief that defendant Davenport could not issue a warrant, that
case states that “it has never been held that only a lawyer or judge could grant a
warrant, regardless of the court system …. The Court frequently has employed the
term ‘magistrate’ to denote those who may issue warrants …. Historically, a
magistrate has been defined broadly as ‘a public civil officer, possessing such
power … as the government appointing him may ordain.”
Id., at 348-349
(citations omitted). Shadwick undermines the plaintiff’s assertion that only a judge
can determine probable cause for purposes of the issuance of a warrant.3 The
Rule 4.3(a)(1)(iii), Ala. R. Crim. P. states that “[a] judge or magistrate in the county of
arrest shall determine whether probable cause exists to believe that the defendant committed the
charged offense, by examining any necessary witnesses in accordance with the procedures for
making a probable cause determination in Rule 2.4.” Rule 2.4 sets forth, in relevant part, that if
“the judge or magistrate is reasonably satisfied from the complaint and the evidence, if any,
submitted that the offense complained of has been committed and that there is probable cause to
believe that the defendant committed it, the judge or magistrate shall proceed under Rule 3.1.”
plaintiff’s objections on the basis that defendant Davenport lacked authority to
issue and arrest warrant is OVERRULED.
The plaintiff next argues that the arrest warrant issued for him on November
6, 2015, was not based on probable cause and was therefore invalid. (Doc. 13 at
3). However, the plaintiff’s basis for this conclusion is his mistaken belief that he
is entitled to have a judge determine whether probable cause for his arrest exists
prior to the issuance of a warrant. (Id. at 3, 5, 7). The state court records reflect
that Patty Davenport, as Magistrate, signed a Complaint based on the statement of
Officer Michael Smith. 4
State of Alabama v. McAdams, DC-2017-100719.00
(Talladega County, Ala.).
Officer Smith stated under oath that he had probable
cause for believing that the plaintiff, “[d]id, in the course of committing a theft of,
to-wit: Ladies Purse (sic), the property of Carolyn Ann McGrady, by use of force
or threaten the imminent use of force against the person of Carolyn Ann McGrady,
or another person present, with the intent to overcome his/her physical resistance
… in violation of § 13A-8-43 of the Alabama Criminal Code ….” Id. Such a
statement is sufficient to establish probable cause for a warrant to issue. See e.g.,
Sada v. City of Altamonte Springs, 434 F. App’x 845, 849 (11th Cir. 2001)
Rule 2.4, Ala. R. Crim. P. Rule 3.1 then instructs that upon a finding of probable cause, the
judge or magistrate shall immediately cause to an arrest warrant to be issued.
This court may take judicial notice of state court proceedings. Grider v. Cook, 522 F.
App’x 544, 545 n.2 (11th Cir. 2013); Keith v. DeKalb County, Georgia, 749 F.3d 1034, 1041 n.
18 (11th Cir. 2014) (judicial notice taken of an online judicial system similar to Alacourt.com)
(citing Fed. R. Evid. 201).
(holding that various witnesses’ statements were sufficient to establish probable
The constitution requires no more than this for Fourth Amendment
purposes. Under Alabama law too, this is sufficient. See e.g., Hunt v. State, 659
So.2d 933, 947-48 (Ala. Crim. App. 1994) (finding substantially similar complaint
adequate to establish probable cause).
The plaintiff’s general assertions that probable cause was not established,
with no specific factual support (see e.g., doc. 13 at 7), do not require a finding
otherwise. See e.g., Dalrymple v. Reno, 334 F.3d 991, 996 (11th Cir. 2003)
(something more than mere conclusory notice pleading is required in civil rights
complaints, especially where the defense of qualified immunity is involved). The
plaintiff’s objections in this regard are OVERRULED. To the extent the plaintiff
is actually challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against him, such claims are
within the realm of habeas proceedings and outside the province of § 1983 action.
See McDowell Bey v. Vega, 588 F. App’x 923, 926 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing
Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 78 (2005)).
To the extent that the plaintiff is arguing that a “form complaintunaccompanied by a separate affidavit” (doc. 13 at 8) is invalid, no legal support
for such a claim exists. However, even if the warrant was invalid, “it does not
follow that the arrest was invalid.” Rennow v. State, 255 So.2d 602, 603 (Ala.
Crim. App. 1971). An arrest not in compliance with Alabama statutes is not a per
se violation of the federal Constitution. See Knight v. Jacobson, 300 F.3d 1272,
1276 (11th Cir. 2002) (“there is no federal right not to be arrested in violation of
state law”) (citations omitted); Wilcox v. Ford, 813 F.2d 1140, 1145 n.7 (11th Cir.
1987) (a federal court is not concerned with violations of state law unless the
violation raises federal constitutional problems).
The content of the complaint and warrant for the plaintiff’s arrest were
within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment.5 The facts set forth in the complaint
were sworn to by defendant Smith, which provided a reasonable basis for the
warrant to issue. 6 See Harris v. Falls, 920 F. Supp. 2d 1247, 1260 (N.D. Ala.
2013). The plaintiff’s general assertions that probable cause was not established,
with no specific factual support, do not require a finding otherwise. The plaintiff’s
objections based on the lack of a separate affidavit are OVERRULED.
While the plaintiff asserted claims based on the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments,
the plaintiff’s claims for arrest and detention without probable cause arise under the Fourth
Amendment. Manuel v. City of Joliet, Illinois, -- U.S.--, 137 S. Ct. 911, 914, 918 (2017). See
also County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44, 47 (1991) (recognizing that “the Fourth
Amendment requires a prompt determination of probable cause”). To the extent the plaintiff
asserted Fourteenth Amendment due process claims relating to his arrest and subsequent
detention, such claims are duplicative of his Fourth Amendment claims.
Although the plaintiff repeatedly states that the warrant was not based on probable
cause, he does not argue that defendant Smith misled defendant Davenport by lying to obtain the
warrant, and he does not argue that he is innocent of the charges. As noted in the Report and
Recommendation, the plaintiff was convicted by a jury of Robbery, Third Degree, in this action.
(Doc. 12 at 4-5 n.1).
II. Objections Concerning Defendants Smith, Kimbrough, and Moore
Woven through the plaintiff’s arguments concerning the actions of
Davenport is the plaintiff’s allegation that defendant Mike Smith, an Investigator
with the Sylacauga Police Department, should have known better than to rely on
the arrest warrant issued by “a Circuit Court Clerk.” (Doc. 13 at 16). However, as
previously stated, Alabama law clearly allows for duly appointed magistrates to
issue arrest warrants. Given that the warrant was properly issued, defendant Smith
was entitled to rely on it.
The plaintiff’s objections on this basis are
Muddying the plaintiff’s objections are his arguments mixing his arrest on
October 2, 2015, with the arrest warrant issued on November 6, 2015, for robbery.
(See e.g., Doc. 13 at 5-6). Defendant Officers Kimbrough and Moore arrested the
plaintiff on October 2, 2015, for Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, causing the
probation violation arrest warrant to issue. 7 Nothing in the state court records
suggests either of these Sylacauga police officers had any involvement with the
execution of the warrant on November 6, 2015. Moreover, at the time of the
November 6, 2015, warrant, the plaintiff was already in the Talladega County Jail,
awaiting a hearing on probation revocation. Although the plaintiff also asserts the
October 2, 2015, arrest was in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights (doc. 13
State of Alabama v. McAdams, CC-2011-000491.70 (Talladega County, Ala.).
at 4), he states no factual basis in his complaint or objections for this assertion.
Thus, all of the plaintiff’s allegations against Officers Kimbrough and Moore
concerning reliance on the November 6, 2015, arrest warrant are misplaced and his
objections on this basis are OVERRULED.
III. Objections Based on Immunity of Probation Officers
The plaintiff next argues that defendant Probation Officer Tim Hall, and
defendant Stacy Vogel as his supervisor, were responsible for an “objectively
unreasonable arrest of the plaintiff, without a reasonable judicial determination of
probable cause.” (Doc. 13 at 4, 23). According to the plaintiff, these defendants
acted in bad faith, exceeded their authority, and violated his Fourth Amendment
rights by failing to establish probable cause because the arrest warrant issued by
defendant Davenport was invalid.8 (Id., at 5- 6). Even if this argument had some
factual basis, probation officers are entitled to complete immunity for actions they
take in their role as probation officers. Hughes v. Chesser, 731 F.2d 1489, 1490
(11th Cir. 1984). See also Holmes v. Crobsy, 418 F.3d 1256, 1258 (11th Cir.
2005) (probation officers are entitled to quasi-judicial immunity). This immunity
extends to the function of issuing violator arrest warrants. Dorman v. Simpson,
893 F. Supp. 1073, 1081 (N.D. Ga. 1995).
The plaintiff’s objections to the
Defendant Hall issued a warrant for the plaintiff’s arrest for probation violations. See
State of Alabama v. McAdams, CC-2011-00-491.70 (Talladega County, Ala.). It was not related
to or dependent upon Davenport’s action, and in fact preceded that by approximately one month.
magistrate’s report and recommendation concerning Tim Hall and Stacy Vogel are
Additionally, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not allow a plaintiff to hold supervisory
officials liable for the actions of their subordinates under either a theory of
respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Belcher v. City of Foley, 30 F.3d 1390,
1396 (11th Cir. 1994). See also Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir.
2003) (a supervisory official is liable only if he “personally participate[d] in the
alleged unconstitutional conduct or [if] there is a causal connection between [his]
actions ... and the alleged constitutional deprivation.”). Because the plaintiff’s
only complaint against defendant Vogel is that she is defendant Hall’s supervisor,
his objections concerning defendant Vogel are OVERRULED.
IV. Objections Based on Immunity of Judges
The plaintiff asserts that defendant Judge Rumsey should have known that
the arrest warrant was invalid and thus Judge Rumsey acted in absence of all
jurisdiction at the December 8, 2015, preliminary hearing. (Doc. 13 at 16, 18).
The plaintiff’s argument is misplaced. Holding hearings is a function normally
performed by a judge and is clearly within the jurisdictional authority of a state
court judge. See e g., Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 362 (1978) (holding that a
judge is entitled to absolute judicial immunity for all actions taken within the
exercise of his jurisdiction); Simmons v. Conger, 86 F.3d 1080, 1085 (11th Cir.
1996) (same). A judge is entitled to this immunity even though the act he
undertook “was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority.”
Stump, 435 U.S. at 356. Defendant Rumsey is a judge of the District Court of
Talladega County, Alabama. The plaintiff’s interactions with Judge Rumsey,
specifically the December 8, 2015, preliminary hearing, were within Judge
Rumsey’s authority as a judge. Thus, Judge Rumsey’s actions were within his
jurisdiction and his judicial capacity, and he is therefore immune from suit. 9
Simmons, 86 F.3d at 1084-85.
The same conclusion must hold true for the plaintiff’s allegations against
defendant Judge King.
(Doc. 13 at 17).
Judge King revoked the plaintiff’s
probation, which is clearly a judicial act within his authority as a state circuit court
judge. As such, Judge King is wholly immune from suit. See Stump, supra.
Moreover, although the plaintiff asserts that Judge King should have known the
arrest warrant issued by Patty Davenport was in violation of the plaintiff’s Fourth
Amendment rights (doc. 13 at 17), the plaintiff again confuses his probation
revocation, based on the October 2, 2015, arrest and warrant signed by a probation
officer, and the November 6, 2015, arrest warrant for Robbery.
The plaintiff’s reliance on Stump v. Sparkman as demanding a different result is
misplaced. (See doc. 13 at 16-17). In that case, the Supreme Court held that a state court judge
who approved a petition for the sterilization of a minor was within his judicial authority and
hence immune from damages. Id., 435 U.S. at 357-58. Considering potential procedural errors,
the Court continued, “[a] judge is absolutely immune from liability for his judicial acts even if
his exercise of authority is flawed by the commission of grave procedural errors.” Id. at 359.
Finally, the plaintiff’s passing references to defendant Judge Hollingsworth
(doc. 13 at 19, 29-30) suggest that the plaintiff objects to Judge Hollingsworth’s
immunity for his actions in presiding over the plaintiff’s criminal trial for the
Robbery-Third charges. See State of Alabama v. McAdams, CC-2016-000032.00
(Talladega Co., Ala.).
The plaintiff states only that “defendants King,
Hollingsworth, and Rumsey, acting under color of state law, willfully deprived the
plaintiff of his liberty without due process of law ….” (Doc. 13 at 20). Because
nothing in this objection overcomes judicial immunity, the plaintiff’s objections to
the finding of absolute judicial immunity barring his claim against defendants
Rumsey, King, and Hollingsworth is OVERRULED.
V. Objections to Immunity of Prosecutors
The plaintiff asserts that because the arrest warrant issued by Davenport was
invalid, defendants District Attorney Steven Dale Giddons and Assistant District
Attorney Cristina Kilgore had no evidence which supported a reasonable belief of
guilt. (Doc. 13 at 22). Regardless of the reasonableness of these defendants’ belief
in the plaintiff’s guilt, “a prosecutor is entitled to absolute immunity for all actions
he takes while performing his function as an advocate for the government,”
Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993), including the initiation and
pursuit of criminal prosecution, Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 424 (1976), and
all appearances before the court, such as examining witnesses and presenting
evidence. See Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 492 (1991). See also Rowe v. Fort
Lauderdale, 279 F.3d 1271, 1279 (11th Cir. 2002). This immunity applies even
where the prosecutor acts “maliciously, unreasonably, without probable cause, or
even on the basis of false testimony or evidence.” Henry v. Farmer City State
Bank, 808 F.2d 1228, 1238 (7th Cir. 1986); accord, Prince v. Wallace, 568 F.2d
1176, 1178–79 (5th Cir. 1978).
The plaintiff’s objection to the application of prosecutorial immunity is
VI. Objections Based on Conspiracy Allegations
Although not stated as objections, the plaintiff makes several passing
references to a perceived conspiracy to deprive the plaintiff of his liberty without
(Doc. 13 at 7, 11, 22, 25).
As set forth in the report and
recommendation, “vague and conclusory allegations of conspiracy are not
sufficient to state a claim for relief.” (Doc. 12 at 24, citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007).
The plaintiff offered no more than
conclusory statements in his amended complaint that various defendants conspired
together to deprive him of his liberty. Such allegations are wholly insufficient to
plead a claim for conspiracy. Allen v. Secretary, Florida Dept. of Corrections, 578
F. App’x 836, 840 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553,
557 (11th Cir. 1984)). As with his other claims, the plaintiff’s conspiracy theory
focuses on Davenport’s issuance of an arrest warrant. Because, as explained
above, nothing irregular appears from Davenport’s signing the warrant in question,
it cannot be used as a basis to demonstrate a conspiracy to violate the plaintiff’s
rights.10 This objection is without merit and therefore OVERRULED.
VII. Objections Based on Failure to Train--City of Sylacauga
The plaintiff asserts that defendants Kimbrough and Smith, as subordinates
of Police Chief Kelly Johnson, who is a subordinate of Mayor Doug Murphree,
who is a subordinate of the City of Sylacauga, failed to adequately train defendants
Smith and Kimbrough and that the Police Chief and Mayor formulated policies and
practices which resulted in the plaintiff’s unreasonable seizure. (Doc. 13 at 7-8,
28). The plaintiff bases this objection on the warrant issued by Davenport. (Id. at
8). However, as previously noted, the City of Sylacauga officers were involved in
the plaintiff’s arrest for probation violations, not his arrest for robbery. Thus, the
validity of the warrant issued by Davenport cannot provide a basis for a failure to
train claim against the Sylacauga defendants.
The plaintiff’s “conspiracy to convict him” theory is further barred by Heck v.
Humphry, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). See e.g., Abella v. Rubino, 63 F.3d 1063, 1064-65 (11th Cir.
1995) (holding that the plaintiff's argument that the defendants “knowingly and willfully
conspired to convict him falsely by fabricating testimony and other evidence against him” was
barred under Heck because “[j]udgment in favor of Abella on these claims [that the defendants
unconstitutionally conspired to convict him of crimes he did not commit] would necessarily
imply the invalidity of his conviction.”); see also Vickers v. Donahue, 137 F. App’x 285, 290
(11th Cir. 2005) (claims alleging malicious and false arrest would necessarily invalidate a
conviction that had not been reversed or declared invalid and therefore were barred under Heck).
Additionally, the plaintiff’s bare bones allegation in his objections, that
“customs and policies resulted in deliberate indifference,” fails to meet the
minimal pleading standards for stating a claim set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions ... will not
do.”) (citations and internal quotations omitted). Moreover, as supervisors, the
Mayor and Chief of Police of the City of Sylacauga cannot be held individually
liable in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 under the theory of respondeat
superior or on the basis of vicarious liability. Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 692 (1978).
The plaintiff further asserts that he was arrested by Officers Kimbrough,
Moore, and Smith “just because he was walking down a power line, and he
defendant Kimbrough was without reasonable suspicion and probable cause….”11
(Doc. 13 at 27). The state court records reflect that the officers, looking for the
plaintiff, saw him walking down “Power Line Trail.” When the officers attempted
to speak with the plaintiff, he ran away, requiring the officers to chase him down.
The plaintiff was arrested for probation violations including the commission of a
new offense, failure to pay supervision fees, and failure to pay court ordered
The plaintiff may not use a § 1983 action to appeal a particular course of action by a
state court. Datz v. Kilgore, 51 F.3d 252, 254 (11th Cir. 1995) (§ 1983 suit arising from alleged
erroneous decisions of a state court is merely a prohibited appeal of the state court judgment)
(citation omitted); see also Rolleston v. Eldridge, 848 F.2d 163 (11th Cir. 1988) (“A section
1983 action is neither an alternative nor a compliment to the appeal of a state court decision ….
Federal courts may not decide federal issues that are raised in state proceedings and inextricably
intertwined with the state court judgment.” (citations and internal quotations omitted)).
money. See State of Alabama v. McAdams, CC-2011-000491.70 (Talladega Co.,
Nothing in the above set of facts demonstrates a lack of training in probable
cause on the part of the defendant officers. Probable cause exists where the facts
and totality of the circumstances, as collectively known to the law enforcement
officers and based on reasonably trustworthy information, are “sufficient to cause a
person of reasonabl[e] caution to believe an offense has been or is being
committed.” Parker v. Allen, 565 F.3d 1258, 1289 (11th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted). See also United States v. Floyd, 281 F.3d 1346, 1348 (11th Cir. 2002).
Even if an officer lacked actual probable cause to make an arrest, he is nevertheless
entitled to qualified immunity if there was arguable probable cause for the arrest.
Jones v. Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1283 (11th Cir. 1999). Arguable probable cause
exists if a reasonable police officer, knowing what the defendant knew, could have
believed that there was probable cause for the arrest. Lee v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d
1188, 1195 (11th Cir. 2002).
Because the underlying facts do not demonstrate a lack of probable cause to
arrest by these officers, this objection is without merit and OVERRULED.
VIII. Objections Based on Official Capacity Immunity
The plaintiff asserts that each of the defendants (except defense counsel),
acted under color of state law and therefore objects to the application of Eleventh
Amendment immunity. (Doc. 13 at 9, 12). The plaintiff’s reliance on cases from
the Alabama courts concerning state sovereign immunity does not require a
different result. For example, in Phillips v. Thomas, 555 So. 2d 81 (Ala. 1989), the
Alabama Supreme Court held that “Article I, § 14, Alabama Constitution of 1901,
is the basis for sovereign immunity in this State, and that section provides that ‘the
State of Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any court of law or equity.’
Under this provision, the State and its agencies have absolute immunity from suit
in any court....
State officers and employees, in their official capacities and
individually, also are absolutely immune from suit when the action is, in effect,
one against the State.” Id. at 83 (citations omitted).
Similarly, under federal law, “[t]he Eleventh Amendment protects a State
from being sued in federal court without the State’s consent.” Manders v. Lee, 338
F.3d 1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2002). This Amendment precludes suit against the
State irrespective of the type of relief a plaintiff seeks. Stevens v. Gay, 864 F.2d
113, 115 (11th Cir. 1989). Because a suit against a state official in his or her
official capacity is treated as a suit against the state, Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
159, 166 (1985), all of the plaintiff’s claims against the named defendants in their
official capacities are barred.12 The plaintiff’s objection to Eleventh Amendment
immunity is OVERRULED.
Moreover, in Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71
(1989), the Supreme Court held that states are not “persons” subject to liability
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Carr v. City of Florence, Ala., 916 F.2d 1521, 1525
n. 3 (11th Cir. 1990). “Suing individuals in their official capacities is ‘another way
of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.’” Edwards
v. Wallace Cmty. Coll., 49 F.3d 1517, 1524 (11th Cir. 1995) (quoting Graham, 473
U.S. at 165). As such, “[a] state, a state agency, and a state official sued in his
official capacity are not ‘persons’ within the meaning of § 1983.” Id. (citing Will,
491 U.S. at 71).
IX. Objections Based on Claims against Dunn and Estes
The plaintiff asserts that his probation was wrongfully revoked and therefore
he was unreasonably sent to the Alabama Department of Corrections. (Doc. 13 at
25). This argument is no more than a restatement of the plaintiff’s claims from his
amended complaint, specifically that because he was wrongfully incarcerated, his
incarceration violates the Thirteenth Amendment prohibition against slavery. (Id.
While a state official sued in his or her official capacity for monetary damages is
immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment, that immunity does not extend to claims for
prospective injunctive relief. Smith v. Florida Department of Corrections, 318 F. App’x 726,
728 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Powell v. Barrett, 496 F.3d 1288, 1308 & n. 27 (11th Cir. 2007).
However, as set forth in the report and recommendation (doc. 12 at 10), the plaintiff only seeks
relief for completed past acts.
at 25-26). For the reasons set forth in the report and recommendation (doc. 12 at
23-24), this argument is without merit. The plaintiff’s objection on this basis is
Having carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials in the
court file, including the report and recommendation and the plaintiff’s objections,
the plaintiff’s objections are OVERRULED. The magistrate judge’s report is
hereby ADOPTED and the recommendation is ACCEPTED.
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), this action is due to be dismissed without
prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
A Final Judgment will be entered.
DONE and ORDERED on October 25, 2017.
L. Scott Coogler
United States District Judge
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