WRIGHT v. Massey et al
ORDER DENYING 8 Motion for Reconsideration. Ordered by Judge Marc Thomas Treadwell on 2/25/2012. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
WILLIE FRANK WRIGHT, JR.,
Sheriff BILL MASSEY;
Judge WILLIAM A. PRIOR, JR.;
NO: 5:11-CV-491 (MTT)
Plaintiff WILLIE FRANK WRIGHT, JR. has filed a Motion for Reconsideration
(Doc. 8). He requests the Court to reconsider its December 28, 2011 Order in which it
dismissed his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint. (Doc. 6).
First, Plaintiff states that the Court did not consider his Motion to Amend Complaint
(Doc. 5) when it dismissed his complaint. The Court did inadvertently fail to consider this
document. However, consideration of the document would not have changed the
The only additional claim that Plaintiff makes in this Motion to Amend is that, prior
to his criminal trial, Judge Prior engaged in conversations with Judge Hulane George (not
named as a Defendant in this action), Deleigh P. Shelton (an attorney not named as a
Defendant in this action) and Sheriff Massey. Plaintiff states that these conversations
caused Judge Prior to become biased against him. Plaintiff alleges that this bias led
Judge Prior to “deprive [Plaintiff] of a fair trial, right to counsel of choice, or even counsel,
the right to be heard on motions, the right to a complete defense, the right to Brady
material, [and] the rights under the 5th [and] 6th Amendments.” (Doc. 5 at 1).
These allegations, if proven, may invalidate Plaintiff’s conviction. Therefore, these
claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the Supreme
Court explained that when an inmate’s allegations rest on the invalidity of his conviction,
his § 1983 claim does not accrue until that invalidity is proven. Id. at 486-87. If “a
judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence,” the § 1983 claim can only be brought after the “conviction or sentence has
been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state
tribunal . . . or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas
corpus.” Id. Plaintiff does not allege that his conviction has been reversed, expunged,
set aside, or called into question by the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Therefore,
Plaintiff must return to the appropriate court and attempt to invalidate his conviction or
sentence. If Plaintiff should succeed, he may then file a § 1983 in federal court in which
he raises these claims.
In addition to complaining that the Court did not consider his Motion to Amend,
Plaintiff also makes additional claims in his Motion for Reconsideration. In his original
complaint, Plaintiff merely alleged that Sheriff Bill Massey was present in the courtroom
on many occasions when Plaintiff attended hearings. The Court explained that it failed
“to see how [the Sheriff’s] presence violates any of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.” (Doc.
6 at 8). In his Motion for Reconsideration, Plaintiff explains that “[t]he complaint that [he]
sent in was not all the way complete . . . Bill Massey did all of this in retaliation.” (Doc. 8
at 2). Although difficult to decipher, it appears that Plaintiff contends Sheriff Bill Massey
retaliated against him by telling Judge Prior about the lawsuit Plaintiff filed in this Court:
Wright v. Petty, 5:10-CV-203 (MTT). Plaintiff states that “Bill Massey had ex parte
extra-judicial communication with Judge Prior causing him to become bias[ed]” and
prejudiced against Plaintiff. (Doc. 8 at 1). According to Plaintiff, Sheriff Massey’s
conversations with the Superior Court Judge “has lead (sic) to this justiciable controversy
between [him] and Judge Prior.” (Doc. 8. at 2).
“Because claims of retaliation may be easily fabricated, they should be reviewed
with skepticism.” Gross v. White, No. 8:05-CV-1767-27TBM, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
65432 at *24 (M. D. Fla. July 18, 2008), aff’d 340 F. App’x 527 (11th Cir. 2009). To prevail
on a retaliation claim, a plaintiff must establish three elements: (1) the speech was
protected; (2) that he suffered adverse action such that the named official’s “retaliatory
conduct would likely deter a person of ordinary firmness from engaging in such speech”
and (3) that there is a causal relationship between the retaliation (the punishment) and
the protected speech. Smith v. Mosely, 532 F.3d 1270, 1276 (11th Cir. 2008).
“[C]onclusory allegations of retaliation are insufficient to state a claim under § 1983.”
Gross, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65432 at *23. Even assuming the existence of the first
and second elements, Plaintiff has failed to establish the third: “a causal link between
the protected activity and the adverse treatment.” Id. It is sheer speculation to assume
that because Sheriff Massey informed Judge Prior of Plaintiff’s previous lawsuit,1 Judge
Prior violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights during his criminal trial and during his
post-trial hearings. “A prisoner must show more than his personal belief that he is the
victim of retaliation.” Id. This is all that Plaintiff has shown in this case.
Plaintiff again claims that Judge Prior is biased against him and, therefore, Judge
Prior refused to consider Plaintiff’s outstanding pro se motions during the November 11,
2011 hearing. For reasons already explained in this Court’s December 28, 2011 Order,
Judge Prior has judicial immunity from both monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Plaintiff seems to think that the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 actions that he has filed in this Court are
entitled to secrecy. However, all of the civil actions are a matter of public record.
This judicial immunity applies Aeven when the judge=s acts are in error, malicious, or were
in excess of his or her jurisdiction.@ Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d 1234, 1239 (11th Cir.
In his motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff attempts to expand on his “conspiracy”
theory in order to show that John Bradley, his former appellate attorney, is a state actor.
Plaintiff states that he knows John Bradley spoke with Judge Prior about his lawsuit
against jail officials (Wright v. Petty, 5:10-CV-203 (MTT)). (Doc. 8 at 1). Plaintiff
explains that John Bradley told him that Judge Prior knew about his 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action and Plaintiff questions “how did [Bradley] know what Judge Prior learned if he did
not teach him or tell him or talk to him ex parte [and] he was acting with Bill Massey. This
is a fact.” (Doc. 8 at 1). “To prove a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 conspiracy, a plaintiff must show
that the parties reached an understanding to deny the plaintiff his or her rights [and] prove
an actionable wrong to support the conspiracy.” Bailey v. Board of County Comm’rs,
956 F.2d 1112, 1122 (11th Cir. 1992). “[T]he linchpin for conspiracy is agreement, which
presupposes communication . . . .” Id. A conspiracy claim that is supported only by
conclusory, vague, and general allegations may be dismissed. Fullman v. Graddick,
739 F.2d 553, 556-57 (11th Cir. 1984). Construed liberally, Plaintiff merely alleges that
John Bradley or Sheriff Massey told Judge Prior about this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.
Plaintiff has not shown any type of agreement between John Bradley, Bill Massey, and
Judge Prior to deprive Plaintiff of his constitutional rights during trial or during his post-trial
hearings. The conclusory statement that John Bradley “was acting with Bill Massey” fails
to show a conspiracy and fails to make John Bradley a state actor for purposes of § 1983
Furthermore, even if the Court were inclined to allow Plaintiff’s action to proceed
beyond the initial screening stage, there is no way that the Court could grant any of the
relief that Plaintiff seeks. Plaintiff requests “injunctive relief and if possible to have [his]
motion for new trial hearing and other motion hearings moved to federal court to avoid
irreparable injury and a miscarriage of justice.” (Doc. 1 at 6). Plaintiff is no longer
confined at the Baldwin County Jail so he cannot obtain any type of injunctive relief
against officials located at that facility. Zatler v. Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 399 (11th
Cir. 1986); Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1173 (11th Cir. 1985). Additionally, as
explained in the Court’s December 28, 2011 Order, the various motions that Plaintiff has
pending in his state criminal case may not be removed to federal court.
For these reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED.2
SO ORDERED, this 25th day of February, 2012.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Plaintiff attached a Notice of Appeal to his Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 8-1) and requested
that the Court docket the Notice of Appeal if his Motion for Reconsideration was denied. The
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to docket the Notice of Appeal (Doc. 8-1) and transmit the appeal to
the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
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