BALLARD v. WATSON
ORDER OF DISMISSAL, adopting 5 Report and Recommendation. Signed by JUDGE ALLEN C WINSOR on 7/28/2022. The clerk will enter judgment that says, "Plaintiff's claims are dismissed without prejudice for failure to disclose prior litigation." The clerk will then close the file. The report and recommendation is adopted and incorporated to the extent consistent with this order. (kdm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
JAMES LEE BALLARD,
Case No. 1:22-cv-103-AW-MAF
CLOVIS WATSON, ALACHUA
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
James Lee Ballard is in state custody awaiting trial on child molestation
charges. He has filed many federal lawsuits relating to his state case. See, e.g., Case
Nos. 1:22-cv-2; 1:22-cv-8; 1:22-cv-96; 1:22-cv-98; 1:22-cv-104; 1:22-cv-106; 1:22cv-128; 4:22-cv-264; 4:22-cv-266; 4:22-cv-267. In this one, Ballard has sued Clovis
Watson, Alachua County’s Sheriff.1 Ballard contends Watson “provided a false
probable cause statement intentionally . . . with [the] intent to wrongfully prosecute
this defendant.” ECF No. 1 at 5. He also says Watson withheld exculpatory evidence.
Id. at 6. He seeks $10 million. Id. at 7.
The magistrate judge, in a joint report and recommendation for this case and
one other, recommends dismissal. ECF No. 5. I have considered de novo Ballard’s
Clovis Watson is also the defendant in Case No. 1:22-cv-128, in which
Ballard asserts the county jail is withholding his mail deliberately to impair his
ability to defend against his criminal charges.
numerous objections, responses, and other communications. ECF Nos. 6, 7, 8, 10,
14, 15, 17.
The magistrate judge addresses abstention, noting that Ballard is essentially
challenging the state’s ability to prosecute him. Ballard insists he does not want to
interfere with the state’s case; he merely wants compensation for the Sheriff’s
wrongdoing (at least in this case). See, e.g., ECF No. 7 at 6. The magistrate judge
also considered whether the Sheriff is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity, 2
and whether Ballard’s claims are more properly raised in a habeas petition.
I need not reach these issues, because I have determined that the suit should
be dismissed if for no other reason than that Ballard failed to accurately disclose his
other litigation.3 He says this was unintentional—that he only intended to make it
clear he wasn’t seeking to amend his prior suit, see ECF No. 6 at 2—but he stated
under oath that he filed no other state or federal cases “dealing with the same facts
The magistrate judge relied on an Alabama case to conclude that the Sheriff
is immune from suit. See ECF No. 5 at 11 (citing Tani v. Shelby Cnty., 511 F. App’x
854 (11th Cir. 2013)). That’s not categorically true for Florida sheriffs. See Freyre
v. Chronister, 910 F.3d 1371, 1381 (11th Cir. 2018) (noting Florida sheriffs are
presumptively county officers but may act as an arm of the state when performing
The magistrate judge also concluded that Ballard failed to disclose one strike
under the PLRA, based on Case No. 1:22-cv-8. ECF No. 5 at 14-15. But I dismissed
that case because an artificial entity (there, an LLC) cannot appear pro se, ECF No. 6
(Case No. 1:22-cv-8)—not because the complaint was frivolous, malicious, or failed
to state a claim, cf. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
or issue involved in this case.” ECF No. 1 (“Separate facts and defendant”). That
was plainly false. For example, in Case 1:22-cv-2—filed months before this one—
Ballard sued dozens of defendants, including Sheriff Watson, before ultimately
settling—in his Fourth Amended Complaint—on an assistant state attorney and
public defender, plus two officers in Sheriff Watson’s office (Cail and Guzman).
ECF Nos. 1, 26 (Case No. 1:22-cv-2). That case, like this one, challenged the validity
of Ballard’s arrest and pending prosecution. See ECF No. 26 at 6-7 (Case No. 1:22cv-2) (alleging Guzman tampered with evidence and Cail knowingly omitted “key
witnesses” and falsified evidence in his investigative report and “ignored major
The clerk will enter judgment that says, “Plaintiff’s claims are dismissed
without prejudice for failure to disclose prior litigation.” The clerk will then close
the file. The report and recommendation is adopted and incorporated to the extent
consistent with this order.
SO ORDERED on July 28, 2022.
s/ Allen Winsor
United States District Judge
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