Coleman v. Williams
ORDER directing Coleman to submit an amended complaint, with the information specified in this order, no later than 30 days after the entry date of this Order. Coleman's failure to do so will result in the dismissal of his complaint. Signed by Judge J. Leon Holmes on 4/11/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
NO. 3:17CV00048 JLH
FREDDY WILLIAMS, Detective,
Marion Police Department
Plaintiff Roosevelt Coleman, an Arkansas Department of corrections inmate, filed a pro se
complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on March 17, 2017. Document #3. Coleman also filed a
declaration in support of his complaint. Document #4. The Court granted Coleman’s application
to proceed in forma pauperis on March 20, 2017. Document #7.
Federal law requires courts to screen in forma pauperis complaints, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), and
prisoner complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity, officer, or employee, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Claims that are legally frivolous or malicious; that fail to state a claim for relief; or that
seek money from a defendant who is immune from paying damages should be dismissed before the
defendants are served. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Coleman alleges that on November 5, 2015, he was arrested and charged with aggravated
robbery and taken to the Marion Police Department where Detective Freddy Williams interrogated
him despite Coleman’s refusal to answer questions. Document #4 at 1. Coleman alleges Williams
illegally recorded a conversation with Coleman, and the recording was used as evidence that led to
his conviction in the aggravated robbery case. Document #3 at 4; document #4 at 1-2. Coleman
attaches an excerpt of what appears to be a pleading or brief from the aggravated robbery case which
includes a transcription of the conversation he had with Williams. Document #4 at 3-4. However,
Coleman does not explain whether this is partial or complete transcription, whether or not he made
any incriminating statements, what those statements were, or what other evidence may have led to
Coleman’s constitutional claim appears to be that his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was
violated when Williams recorded a conversation with him after he was charged and refused to
answer questions. See generally McNeil v. Wisconsin, 501 U.S. 171, 175, 111 S. Ct. 2204, 115 L.
Ed. 2d 158 (1991) (holding that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches when a prosecution
is commenced). Coleman seeks damages of $15,000 for his pain and suffering. Document #3 at 5.
If a ruling in Coleman’s favor would imply the invalidity of his conviction, his complaint must be
dismissed. See Heck v. Humphry, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87, 114 S. Ct. 2364, 2372, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383
(1994) (if a judgment in favor of a prisoner in a § 1983 action would necessarily imply the invalidity
of the conviction, continued imprisonment, or sentence, then no claim for damages lies unless the
conviction or sentence is reversed, expunged, or called into question by issuance of a federal writ
of habeas corpus). The Court needs more information to determine whether Coleman’s claim will
necessarily imply the validity of his conviction, and if not, whether he has suffered an actual,
compensable injury. See id. at 487 n.7 (“In order to recover compensatory damages, however, the
§ 1983 plaintiff must prove not only [a constitutional violation], but that it caused him actual,
compensable injury, . . . , which, we hold today, does not encompass the ‘injury’ of being convicted
and imprisoned (until his conviction has been overturned).”) (internal citations omitted).
To allow the Court to determine whether Coleman states a cognizable § 1983 claim for relief,
Coleman must file a legible amended complaint within thirty days from the date of this Order
explaining the following: (1) how he was harmed by the recording made by Williams; (2) what
incriminating statements were made in the recording; (3) what other evidence was offered against
him in the aggravated robbery case; and (4) why he seeks relief against Williams in his official
capacity. Coleman is cautioned that an amended complaint renders his original complaint without
legal effect. Only claims properly set out in the amended complaint will be allowed to proceed.
Coleman’s failure to timely file an amended complaint will result in the dismissal of his complaint
pursuant to Local Rule 5.5(c)(2).
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT Coleman is directed to submit an amended
complaint, with the information specified in this order, no later than 30 days after the entry date of
this order. Coleman’s failure to do so will result in the dismissal of his complaint.
DATED this 11th day of April, 2017.
J. LEON HOLMES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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