Littleton v. Jones
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn on 9/8/15. (SMH)
2015 Sep-08 PM 01:27
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ROBERT LITTLETON, III
MICHAEL T. JONES,
) Case No. 2:14-cv-02077-SLB-JEO
The magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on July 27, 2015,
recommending that this action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 be dismissed under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
(Doc. 10). The plaintiff, having been advised of his right to file objections, has filed
a “motion for abeyance and enter objections.” (Doc. 11).
The court has carefully considered each of the grounds of the plaintiff’s motion
and objections. First, the plaintiff requests that this case be stayed until the court
rules on his petition for habeas corpus, case number 3:14-cv-00371-WMA-JEO. In
that action, the plaintiff challenges the validity of the sentence he received for the
crime of sexual abuse in the second degree. Under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477
(1994), this court must dismiss a claim under § 1983 if “a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his . . . sentence.” Heck, 512 U.S.
at 487). Staying the plaintiff’s § 1983 claim against defendant Jones is not a option
in light of the Supreme Court directive otherwise.1
In his motion, the plaintiff states that his conviction “must be reversed/vacated
and judgment rendered for Mr. Littleton because the state’s evidence was insufficient
. . . .” (Doc. 11, at 3). In the report and recommendation, the court observed that
such a challenge to a conviction is not in the nature of a civil rights action, but a
habeas action. (Doc. 10 at 8). Put simply, the plaintiff cannot have his sentence
reversed or vacated through the use of a § 1983 action. Rather, the plaintiff’s pending
habeas action is the sole vehicle through which such a challenge may proceed.
The plaintiff also objects to the finding that the plaintiff’s claims are barred by
the statute of limitations. (Doc. 11, at 5-6). According to the plaintiff, he “did not
receive the facts until after Assistant Attorney General Ferris W. Stephens [f]iled his
answer to Mr. Littleton’s Habeas Corpus Petition on April 14, 2014. . . .” (Doc. 11,
at 6). However, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiff’s underlying
convictions and denied his petition for writ of certiorari on November 10, 2011. Ex
parte R.L., Case No. 1101228, Certificate of Judgment and writ of cert. denied
without opinion, 130 So. 2d 1271 (Ala. 2011) (table). The plaintiff was clearly aware
The plaintiff states that he “objects to Heck v. Humphrey because this Honorable Court
knows that Mr. Littleton has stated clams upon which relief can be granted.” (Doc. 11, at 8). As
this court must follow applicable Supreme Court law, such objection has no merit.
of this when he filed his petition for habeas corpus, because he referenced this
decision in his petition. See 3:13-cv-00371-WMA-JEO (doc. 1). The plaintiff’s
argument otherwise is unavailing. Additionally, even if the plaintiff could not
ascertain that his state court conviction would not be set aside until the Assistant
Attorney General filed an answer in the habeas action on April 14, 2014, this action
under § 1983 would still be barred.
The plaintiff disagrees with the finding that defendant Jones is entitled to
absolute judicial immunity. Even if defendant Jones entered a sentence outside the
realm of possible sentences under Alabama law, as a judge with jurisdiction to impose
sentences on individuals convicted of crimes, defendant Jones did not act in absence
of all jurisdiction, as alleged by the plaintiff. See Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349,
356-57 (1978). This objection has no merit.
In essence, each of the grounds raised by the plaintiff are various attacks upon
his conviction and sentence in the state court.
As found in the report and
recommendation, an action filed under § 1983 is not the proper vehicle through which
to pursue such claims.
Having carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials in the court
file, including the report and recommendation and the objections thereto, the court
is of the opinion that the magistrate judge’s report is due to be and is hereby is
ADOPTED and the recommendation is ACCEPTED. The plaintiff’s motion for
abeyance is DENIED. Accordingly, the complaint is due to be dismissed pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
A Final Judgment will be entered.
DATED this the 8th day of September, 2015.
SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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