Ransom v. Arkansas, State of et al
ORDER granting 1 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. Ransom's official capacity claims fail, and amended to plead them against the defendants individually would be futile. His complaint will therefore be dismissed without prejudice. Signed by Chief Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 1/7/2022. (jak)
IN THE UNITED ST ATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
STANLEY V. RANSOM, III
STATE OF ARKANSAS;
CHARLES E. CLAWSON, Judge;
COURTNEY KENNEDY, Prosecutor;
PRESTON JONES, ADC Probation/Parole
Officer; and COURTNEY CATO, Prosecutor
Ransom's application to proceed in forma pauperis, Doc. 1, is
granted. He reports no income, no employment, and two dependents.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Ransom pleaded guilty in 2012 to a number of
state crimes and was sentenced to eighty-four months' probation. State
v. Ransom, 23CR-11-473. During the next few years, his probation was
revoked three times. In 2017, after Ransom's probation was revoked a
fourth time, he was sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment in the
Arkansas Department of Correction. The Arkansas Court of Appeals
later vacated the judgments, concluding that Ransom's probationary
period had ended before the State petitioned to revoke his probation
the fourth time. Ransom v. State, 2019 Ark. App. 563, *7, 591 S.W.3d 359,
363-364. Ransom now sues under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He says he was
unlawfully imprisoned and denied bond as a result of the fourth
revocation proceeding. He seeks money damages, wages from jobs he
lost as a result of the incarceration, and asks the sentence and conviction
to be removed from his record.
Ransom sues the defendants in their official capacity only;
but these claims run against Arkansas, which is immune from suit. Will
v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989).
Ransom could amend to sue the defendants 1n their
individual capacities, but that amendment would be futile. Kennedy
and Cato are entitled to absolute immunity for their prosecutorial work.
Sample v. City of Woodbury, 836 F.3d 913, 916 (8th Cir. 2016). And Jones
is immune from suit for his work as a probation officer. Evans v.
Dillahunty, 711 F.2d 828, 831 (8th Cir. 1983).
This leaves Judge Clawson.
Generally, judges have absolute
immunity from suit because "a judicial officer, in exercising the
authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions,
without apprehension of personal consequences to himself." Hamilton
v. City of Hayti, Mo., 948 F.3d 921, 925 (8th Cir. 2020) (quotation
omitted). The only two exceptions are when a judge acts outside of his
judicial capacity or acts absent any jurisdiction. Ibid. Neither exception
Judge Clawson's ruling was made "in excess of
as a circuit judge, he had the power to revoke
probationary sentences, but he made a mistake in exercising that power
in Ransom's case based on the facts. Duty v. City of Springdale, Ark., 42
F.3d 460, 462-63 (8th Cir. 1994). Because Judge Clawson was neither
acting without any jurisdiction nor outside of his capacity as a circuit
judge, he is entitled to absolute immunity in his individual capacity.
Ransom's official capacity claims fail, and amending to plead
them against the defendants individually would be futile.
complaint will therefore be dismissed without prejudice.
D .P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
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