Williams v. Miller County Circuit Court, et al

Filing 9

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re Complaint filed by David E Williams, Objections to R&R due by 6/12/2006. Signed by Judge Bobby E. Shepherd on 5/24/06. (cap)

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Williams v. Miller County Circuit Court, et al Doc. 9 Case 4:06-cv-04037-HFB Document 9 Filed 05/24/2006 Page 1 of 4 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS TEXARKANA DIVISION DAVID E. WILLIAMS v. Civil No. 06-4037 PLAINTIFF MILLER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT; KIRK JOHNSON and JIM GUNTER, Prosecuting Attorneys, Miller County, Arkansas DEFENDANTS REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE David E. Williams filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 on April 24, 2006, in the Eastern District of Arkansas. The case was then transferred to this court and the file received on May 4, 2006. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis (IFP). The case is before the undersigned for a determination of whether it should be served upon the defendants. I. Background Williams is currently an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). According to the allegations of the complaint, he was arrested on July 8, 1979, by Detective H.L. Phillips and taken to the Miller County Jail. Williams alleges no arrest warrant was issued until July 12, 1979, when he was charged with murder and attempted murder. Williams alleges he and not taken before a judge for arraignment until September 7, 1979. Williams maintains prosecuting attorneys, Kirk Johnson and Jim Gunter, did nothing to ensure that he was brought before a judge for a prompt probable cause determination. Williams maintains his detention violated the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. -1- AO72A (Rev. 8/82) Dockets.Justia.com Case 4:06-cv-04037-HFB Document 9 Filed 05/24/2006 Page 2 of 4 He names as defendants the Miller County Circuit Court and prosecuting attorneys, Kirk Johnson and Jim Gunter. As relief, Williams seeks compensatory damages in the amount of 3.7 million dollars. He also asks for an award of punitive damages. II. Discussion This case is subject to dismissal. First, Williams' claims against the Miller County Circuit Court are subject to dismissal. "[S]tate courts as entities are not vulnerable to a 1983 suit because they are protected by immunity under the eleventh amendment." Mildfelt v. Circuit Court of Jackson County, Mo., 827 F.2d 343, 345 (8th Cir. 1987). Moreover, it has been held that state courts are not "persons" subject to suit under 1983. See e.g., Mumford v. Basinski, 105 F.3d 264, 267 (6th Cir. 1997); Zuckerman v. Appellate Div., 421 F.2d 625, 626 (2nd Cir. 1970); Kinney v. City of Cleveland, 144 F. Supp. 2d 908 (N.D. Ohio 2001). Additionally, a state court and its members are immune from a suit for damages for judicial acts performed in their judicial capacities. See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11, 112 S. Ct. 286, 116 L. Ed. 2d 9 (1991). Second, Williams' claims against Kirk Johnson and Jim Gunter are subject to dismissal. In Webster v. Gibson, 913 F.2d 510 (8th Cir. 1990), Anthony Webster contended his constitutional rights were violated when he was arrested and held for a period of forty-five days before receiving a judicial determination of probable cause under Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 126, 95 S. Ct. 854, 869, 43 L. Ed. 2d 54 (1975). Webster sued the prosecutor, the sheriff, and a deputy sheriff. The district court dismissed the entire action. On appeal the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal as to the prosecuting attorney and the deputy sheriff who was the arresting officer. Webster, 913 F.2d at 512. The prosecuting attorney was held to be absolutely immune from a -2- AO72A (Rev. 8/82) Case 4:06-cv-04037-HFB Document 9 Filed 05/24/2006 Page 3 of 4 claim for damages. Id. at 513-14. In this case, based on Williams' allegations it is clear the defendant prosecuting attorneys are entitled to absolute immunity. See also Brodnicki v. Omaha, 75 F.3d 1261 (8th Cir. 1996)(County prosecutors were entitled to absolute immunity from suit). Third, Williams claims are based on activities that occurred in July through September of 1979 and are barred by the statute of limitations. Section 1983 does not contain its own s ta tu t e of limitation. Instead, causes of action under 1983 are governed by "the most a p p ro p ria te or analogous state statute of limitations." Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 482 U.S. 6 5 6 , 660 (1987)( 1981 case). See also Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268 (1985)( 1983 c a s e ) ; Bell v. Fowler, 99 F.3d 262, 265-266 (8th Cir. 1996)( 1985 case). In Arkansas, this is th e three year personal injury statute of limitations, Ark. Code Ann. 16-56-105(3) (2005). See M i ll e r v. Norris, 247 F.3d 736, 739 (8th Cir. 2001)(Ark. Code Ann. 16-56-105(3) is the statute o f limitations applicable to 1983 cases). P la in tiff's ' civil rights causes of action accrued when he knew or had reason to know of h a rm constituting the basis of the action. Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Corrections, 64 F .3 d 951, 955 (4th Cir. 1995). In July of 1979, Williams has alleged he was not brought p r o m p t ly before a judicial officer. This case was not filed until April 14, 2006. This action was th e re fo re filed well after the expiration of the applicable limitation period. III. Conclusion I therefore recommend that this case be dismissed as the claims are asserted against defendants who are immune from suit and the claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. See 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii)(IFP action, or any portion thereof, may be dismissed on such grounds at any time). -3- AO72A (Rev. 8/82) Case 4:06-cv-04037-HFB Document 9 Filed 05/24/2006 Page 4 of 4 Williams has ten days from receipt of the report and recommendation in which to file written objections pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1). The failure to file timely objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact. Williams is reminded that objections must be both timely and specific to trigger de novo review by the district court. DATED this 24th day of May 2006. /s/ Bobby E. Shepherd UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE -4- AO72A (Rev. 8/82)

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