Smith v. Haddock et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION adopting report and accepting magistrate judge's recommendation. The Court will enter a separate order dismissing this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915A(b)(1) and (2). Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 5/31/2016. (KMG)
2016 May-31 PM 06:03
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
HENRY CLAY SMITH,
CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE
STEPHEN HADDOCK, et al.,
) Case No. 4: 15-cv-01601-MHH-HGD
In this action, plaintiff Henry Clay Smith argues that the Alabama
Constitution is deficient because it does not include an equal protection clause, and
he contends that Morgan County Circuit Court Judge Steven Haddock violated his
constitutional rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution because Judge Haddock re-sentenced him in his absence
and in the absence of Mr. Smith’s attorney. (Docs. 1, 14). For these alleged
constitutional injuries, Mr. Smith seeks from Judge Haddock and from Governor
Robert Bentley, the governor of the State of Alabama, “freedom from
incarceration, then, compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of 2.5
million dollars (per) defendant.” (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12).
In a report and recommendation filed on March 18, 2016, the magistrate
judge recommended that the Court dismiss this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1) and (2). Mr. Smith mailed objections to the report on March 24,
2016, and the objections were docketed on March 29, 2016. (Doc. 14, p. 6).1
When a party objects to a report and recommendation, the 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). The Court reviews de novo legal conclusions in a report and reviews for
clear 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).
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).
In his report, the magistrate judge explained that to the extent that Mr. Smith
challenges his (Mr. Smith’s) incarceration, he must do so via a petition for writ of
habeas corpus. (Doc. 13, pp. 4-5). In his objection, Mr. Smith states that his
“complaint is clear, plaintiff is not challenging his confinement.” (Doc. 14, p. 3).
As stated above, in his complaint, Mr. Smith’s expressly asks for “freedom from
incarceration.” (See p. 1, supra). The magistrate judge correctly explained that
Mr. Smith may not pursue that relief in this § 1983 action.
On April 20, 2016, Mr. Smith filed a “Motion for Order Compelling Production of
Documents.” (Doc. 15).
With respect to Mr. Smith’s claim for damages from Judge Haddock, the
Court assumes the truth of Mr. Smith’s allegation that Judge Haddock violated Mr.
Smith’s constitutional rights when Judge Haddock resentenced Mr. Smith when
neither Mr. Smith nor his attorney was present. The magistrate judge explained
that Judge Haddock has absolute immunity from a damages claim for this alleged
conduct. (Doc. 13, p. 5). Mr. Smith argues that Judge Haddock has only qualified
immunity because Judge Haddock’s “judicial acts were done maliciously and
corruptly.” (Doc. 14, pp. 3-4). The magistrate judge correctly stated the law;
Judge Haddock has absolute immunity from a damages claim, and Mr. Smith could
not recover a damages award from Judge Haddock even if Mr. Smith could prove
that Judge Haddock’s actions were malicious or corrupt because Judge Haddock
had jurisdiction to re-sentence Mr. Smith. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 35657 (1978).
Finally, with respect to Governor Bentley, the magistrate judge explained
that Mr. Smith named Governor Bentley as a defendant, but Mr. Smith did not
state a claim against Governor Bentley in the body of his complaint. (Doc. 13, p.
Mr. Smith does not mention Governor Bentley in his objection to the
magistrate judge’s report. (Doc. 14). The Court does not find clear error in the
magistrate judge’s analysis of the complaint pertaining to Governor Bentley. The
Court agrees that the complaint does not contain a substantive claim against
Thus, having carefully reviewed and considered the materials in the court
file, including the report and recommendation and Mr. Smith’s objections to the
report, the Court adopts the report and accepts the magistrate judge’s
recommendation. The Court will enter a separate order dismissing this action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2).2
DONE and ORDERED this May 31, 2016.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The Court denies as moot Mr. Smith’s “Motion for Order Compelling Production of
Documents.” (Doc. 15).
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