Hill v. Benca et al
ORDER DISMISSING CASE with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. This dismissal counts as a "strike," and the Court certifies that an ifp appeal would not be taken in good faith. Signed by Judge Susan Webber Wright on 6/19/13. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
DARYL JEROME HILL
NO: 4:13CV00339 SWW
PATRICK BENCA et al.
Plaintiff, currently held at the Independence County Detention Facility, filed a pro se
complaint (docket entry #2), and an amended complaint (docket entry #5), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that Defendants Patrick Benca, Kara Benca, and George Morledge IV, who were his
criminal defense attorneys, have not represented him effectively, which ultimately led to him
pleading guilty in a June 5, 2013, proceeding.
Before docketing the complaint, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the Court must review
the complaint to identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint if it: (1) is frivolous or
malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)
requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
In Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (overruling Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41 (1967), and setting new standard for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted), the Court stated, “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment]to
relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do....Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level,” citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235236 (3d ed. 2004). A complaint must contain enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face, not merely conceivable. Twombly at 570. However, a pro se plaintiff's allegations must
be construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dept. of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-1044
(8th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
To state a cognizable claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that the
conduct of a defendant acting “under color of state law” deprived him of a right, privilege, or
immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Hamilton v. Schriro, 74 F.3d 1545, 1549 (8th Cir. 1996). An attorney, even an appointed public
defender, does not act under color of state law when performing the traditional functions of a
defense counsel. See Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 320 (1981) (“It is the function of the
public defender to enter ‘not guilty’ pleas, move to suppress State’s evidence, object to evidence at
trial, cross-examine State's witnesses, and make closing arguments in behalf of defendants. All of
these are adversarial functions”). Plaintiff’s complaints about Defendants concern discussions
Plaintiff and Patrick Benca had in the context of plea negotiations with a prosecuting attorney. A
lawyer would traditionally perform such functions as an advocate for a client in a criminal defense
action. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s attorneys were not state actors, and Plaintiff’s complaint must be
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT:
Plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted.
This dismissal counts as a “strike” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
The Court certifies that an in forma pauperis appeal taken from the order and
judgment dismissing this action is considered frivolous and not in good faith.
DATED this 19th day of June, 2013.
/s/Susan Webber Wright
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?