Mzembe v. Miller et al
OPINION AND ORDER re 1 PRO SE COMPLAINT filed by Lindani A Mzembe. This case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A. Signed by Judge Joseph S Van Bokkelen on 2/16/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party).(cer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
Lindani A. Mzembe,
Case No. 3:16-CV-894 JVB
Robert L. Miller, Jr., and David Wemhoff,
OPINION AND ORDER
Lindani A. Mzembe, a pro se prisoner, filed a complaint. “A document filed pro se is to
be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
the court must review the merits of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous
or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
Mzembe alleges that Federal District Court Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr., did not protect his
due process rights during his federal criminal proceedings. However, a judge is entitled to
absolute immunity for judicial acts regarding matters within the court’s jurisdiction, even if the
judge’s “exercise of authority is flawed by the commission of grave procedural errors.” Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359 (1978). Presiding over federal criminal proceedings is within the
jurisdiction of a federal judge, therefore Judge Miller has judicial immunity and the claims
against him are frivolous.
Mzembe also alleges that his criminal defense attorney, David Wemhoff, did not properly
represent him during his federal criminal trial. “In Bivens [v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed.
Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 394 (1971)] the Supreme Court recognized an implied cause
of action for damages against federal officers to redress a constitutional violation.” Engel v.
Buchan, 710 F.3d 698, 703 (7th Cir. 2013). However, a criminal defense attorney, even one
appointed to represent a federal defendant, is not a federal officer. Christian v. Crawford, 907
F.2d 808, 810 (8th Cir. 1990); cf. Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981) (Criminal defense
attorneys, including public defenders, do not act under color of State law for purposes of 42
U.S.C. § 1983.). Therefore, the allegations against him do not state a claim.
For these reasons, this case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
SO ORDERED on February 16, 2017.
s/ Joseph S. Van Bokkelen
JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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