Knuth v. Arp et al
ORDER dismissing this action, and denying leave to proceed in forma pampers on appeal, by Judge Lewis T. Babcock on 2/19/16. (dkals, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 16-cv-00025-GPG
NATHAN DANIEL KNUTH,
JUDGE RANDALL C. ARP,
KAUSHIKI CHOWDHURY, and
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
Plaintiff, Nathan Daniel Knuth, is an inmate at the Jefferson County Detention
Facility in Golden, Colorado. Mr. Knuth initiated this action by filing pro se a Prisoner
Complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging his constitutional rights are
being violated in connection with ongoing state court criminal proceedings. On January
11, 2016, Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher ordered Mr. Knuth to file an amended
Prisoner Complaint that is limited to claims properly raised in a § 1983 action against
proper Defendants. Magistrate Judge Gallagher warned Mr. Knuth that, if he failed to file
an amended Prisoner Complaint within thirty days, the action would be dismissed without
further notice. Mr. Knuth has not filed an amended Prisoner Complaint as directed.
The Court must construe the Prisoner Complaint liberally because Mr. Knuth is not
represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v.
Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not be an
advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. For the reasons discussed
below, the action will be dismissed.
The Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Gallagher that Mr. Knuth may not pursue
his claims in the Prisoner Complaint in this action at this time. Absent extraordinary or
special circumstances, federal courts are prohibited from interfering with ongoing state
criminal proceedings. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971); Phelps v. Hamilton,
122 F.3d 885, 889 (10th Cir. 1997). Abstention is appropriate if three conditions are met:
(1) the state proceedings are ongoing; (2) the state proceedings implicate important state
interests; and (3) the state proceedings afford an adequate opportunity to present the
federal constitutional challenges. Phelps, 122 F.3d at 889.
The first condition is met because Mr. Knuth concedes that the state court
proceedings are ongoing. The second condition also is met because the Supreme Court
“has recognized that the States’ interest in administering their criminal justice systems
free from federal interference is one of the most powerful of the considerations that should
influence a court considering equitable types of relief.” Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36,
49 (1986) (citing Younger, 401 U.S. at 44-45). With respect to the third condition, Mr.
Knuth fails to demonstrate the absence of an adequate opportunity to present his claims
in the state proceedings.
Mr. Knuth “may overcome the presumption of abstention ‘in cases of proven
harassment or prosecutions undertaken by state officials in bad faith without hope of
obtaining a valid conviction and perhaps in other extraordinary circumstances where
irreparable injury can be shown.’” Phelps, 122 F.3d at 889 (quoting Perez v. Ledesma,
401 U.S. 82, 85 (1971)). However, the fact that Mr. Knuth will be forced to appear in
state court on criminal charges, by itself, is not sufficient to establish great and immediate
irreparable injury. See Younger, 401 U.S. at 46; Dolack v. Allenbrand, 548 F.2d 891,
894 (10th Cir. 1977).
Courts have considered three factors in determining whether a prosecution is
commenced in bad faith or to harass:
(1) whether it was frivolous or undertaken with no reasonably
objective hope of success; (2) whether it was motivated by the
defendant’s suspect class or in retaliation for the defendant’s
exercise of constitutional rights; and (3) whether it was
conducted in such a way as to constitute harassment and an
abuse of prosecutorial discretion, typically through the
unjustified and oppressive use of multiple prosecutions.
Phelps, 122 F.3d at 889. It is Mr. Knuth’s “‘heavy burden’ to overcome the bar of
Younger abstention by setting forth more than mere allegations of bad faith or
Mr. Knuth fails to demonstrate that the criminal proceedings pending against him
were commenced with no reasonable hope of success. He also fails to demonstrate any
improper motivation for the charges. Finally, there is no indication that the criminal
proceedings have been conducted in such a way as to constitute harassment or an abuse
of prosecutorial discretion. Therefore, the Court finds that Younger abstention is
appropriate in this action.
In summary, the instant action will be dismissed because Mr. Knuth fails to allege
facts that indicate he will suffer great and immediate irreparable injury if the Court does
not intervene in the ongoing state court criminal proceedings. If Mr. Knuth ultimately is
convicted in state court and he believes that his federal constitutional rights were violated
in obtaining that conviction, he may challenge the conviction in federal court by filing an
application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 after he exhausts
The Court also certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from
this order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status will be
denied for the purpose of appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438 (1962).
If Plaintiff files a notice of appeal he also must pay the full $505 appellate filing fee or file a
motion to proceed in forma pauperis in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth
Circuit within thirty days in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 24. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the Prisoner Complaint (ECF No. 1) and the action are dismissed
without prejudice. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal is denied
without prejudice to the filing of a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis on
appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
DATED at Denver, Colorado, this
BY THE COURT:
s/Lewis T. Babcock
LEWIS T. BABCOCK, Senior Judge
United States District Court
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?