Whitson v. State of Alabama et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that the Findings and Recommendation areADOPTED as the Opinion of the Court. It is EXPRESSLY DETERMINED that,pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, all claims of the Plaintiff are hereby DISMISSEDWITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 6/13/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Notice)(JLC)
2016 Jun-13 PM 02:04
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
KENNETH WAYNE WHITSON
STATE OF ALABAMA and
CIRCUIT JUDICIAL COURT,
) Case No.: 3:15-cv-02276-VEH-JEO
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter comes before the court on the objections (docs. 23 and 24) to the
Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation (doc. 21). The court notes that, while
the Plaintiff sometimes uses the word “fact” in his objections, he is in actuality arguing
that the Magistrate Judge was wrong on the law.1
In the Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge wrote: “The plaintiff expressly
states that he has been appointed counsel. It is unclear why the plaintiff argues throughout his
amended complaint that the state court failed to appoint him counsel.” (R&R, doc. 21, at 4 fn.1)
(internal citations to case pleadings omitted). The court notes that the Plaintiff clarified the issue
about his lack of counsel by stating that he had counsel - apparently three different attorneys at
different times (doc. 24 at 2, “his third appointed counsel”), but argues that they were appointed
“only in the ‘verbal’ sense but not in the terms as (physically) as necessary to satisfy amendment
6th of the United States Constitution.” (Doc. 24 at 1-2). The undersigned interprets the Plaintiff’s
pleadings, as so clarified, to allege that he was not appointed Constitutionally adequate counsel in
a timely manner. However, this clarification does not in any way call into question the Magistrate
Judge’s legal analysis.
What the Plaintiff fails to understand is that he only named two defendants: the
State of Alabama and the Lauderdale County Circuit Judicial Court. But, as the
Magistrate Judge correctly found, the Eleventh Amendment deprives this court of
jurisdiction over any claim against a state, including its agencies and departments.
Uberoi v. Supreme Court of Florida, 819 F.3d 1311, 1313 (11th Cir. 2016)(“[The
court nonetheless lacked jurisdiction over that claim because sovereign immunity
independently bars it. Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity prohibits federal courts
from entertaining suits brought by citizens against a state, including its agencies and
departments.”)(internal citations omitted). A state court, such as the Lauderdale County
Circuit Court, is clearly an agency or department of the State of Alabama, and so this
court lacks jurisdiction over claims against it.2
Accordingly, the court, having considered the findings and recommendation, and
having reviewed the entire file, concludes that the magistrate judge’s findings and
recommendation are correct. Accordingly, the findings and recommendation are
ADOPTED as the opinion of the court. It is EXPRESSLY DETERMINED that,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, all claims of the Plaintiff are hereby DISMISSED
Sovereign immunity does not apply where a state waives it or Congress validly abrogates
it, but the Plaintiff does not argue that either of those exceptions applies to his claims.
DONE and ORDERED this the 13th day of June, 2016.
See attached Notice regarding appeal rights.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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