Williams v. Cash et al
ORDER re 1 Complaint Referred (42:1983) filed by Albert Van Williams, III. Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Judgment will be entered accordingly. Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on September 25, 2017. (hnc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
HOT SPRINGS DIVISION
ALBERT VAN WILLIAMS, III
Civil No. 6:17-CV-06067
SHERIFF MIKE CASH and JAIL
ADMINISTRATOR MIKE FAIN
This is a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.
The case is before the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court has the obligation to
screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 3, 2017. (ECF No. 1). He alleges he is being
denied access to a law library while incarcerated on pending capital murder and kidnapping
charges in the Hot Spring County Jail. (ECF No. 2 at 3-4). Plaintiff alleges he needs the proper
material to represent himself in a “pro se man[n]er.” (ECF No. 2 at 5). He further alleges that,
because the jail considers itself a temporary facility, the “standing policy” is to not have a law
library and to deny pre-trial Defendants access to proper legal materials. (ECF No. 1, p. 5).
Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants in their official capacity only. (ECF No. 2 at 4).
Plaintiff seeks the installation of a law library at the Hot Springs County Jail. (ECF No. 2 at 8).
Under the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen the case prior to service of process being
issued. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (1) are
frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or, (2) seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
A claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it
does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted
sufficient facts to state a claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded ... to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.’” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537,
541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). Even a pro se Plaintiff
must allege specific facts sufficient to support a claim. Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8
Plaintiff’s case is barred by the Younger abstention doctrine. Pursuant to Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), federal courts are required to abstain from hearing cases when “(1)
there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding which (2) implicates important state interests, and
when (3) that proceeding affords an adequate opportunity to raise the federal questions presented.”
Norwood v. Dickey, 409 F.3d 901, 903 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Fuller v. Ulland, 76 F.3d 957, 959
(8th Cir. 1996)). Ongoing state criminal proceedings implicate the important state interest of
enforcing state criminal law, and constitutional claims relating to that proceeding should be raised
there. Meador v. Paulson, 385 Fed. App’x 613 (8th Cir. 2010); see also Gillette v. N. Dakota Disc.
Bd. Counsel, 610 F.3d 1045, 1046 (8th Cir. 2010) (“federal courts may not enjoin pending state
court criminal proceedings absent a showing of bad faith, harassment, or any other unusual
circumstance that would call for equitable relief.”) (internal quotations omitted)).
“[I]]nmates undeniably enjoy a constitutional right of access to the courts and the legal
system." Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1997). The right of access requires the provision of
“prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law,”
Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828, to challenge their criminal charges, convictions, and sentences directly
or collaterally. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). Research by the Court indicates that
Plaintiff’s state criminal case for capital murder and kidnapping, (State v. Williams & Tadlock,
30CR-17-230 (Ark. Cir. Ct., Hot Spring County), is still ongoing and that Plaintiff has been
appointed a Public Defender to represent him in the pending case. Thus, this Court is required to
abstain from hearing the case because there is an ongoing state criminal case. Plaintiff is advised
to raise any constitutional concerns he might have with his appointed attorney.
For these reasons, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT
Judgment will be entered accordingly.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 25th day of September 2017.
/s/P. K. Holmes, III
P. K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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