Cloud v. Kansas, State of et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ENTERED: This matter is dismissed for failure to state a claim. Signed by District Judge John W. Lungstrum on 11/18/22. Mailed to pro se party Sharon Cloud by regular mail at Harper County Jail and 1300 N. Westview, Apt. 604, Harper, Kansas 67058. (smnd)
Case 5:22-cv-03210-JWL-JPO Document 9 Filed 11/18/22 Page 1 of 4
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
CASE NO. 22-3210-JWL-JPO
STATE OF KANSAS, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At the time of filing,
Plaintiff was in custody at Larned State Hospital in Larned, Kansas. On October 14, 2022, the
Court entered a Memorandum and Order to Show Cause (Doc. 6) (“MOSC”) ordering Plaintiff
to show good cause why her Complaint should not be dismissed for the reasons set forth in the
MOSC. This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Response (Doc. 8). The underlying facts
and the Court’s screening standards are set forth in the MOSC.
Plaintiff’s claims involve her state criminal proceedings. She claims she was arrested
without probable cause and her car was seized without due process, her court-appointed attorney
prolonged her time in jail and threatened Plaintiff that if she did not cooperate things would only
get worse for her, the prosecutor labeled her as mentally ill, the state court judge mentally abused
her by giving her a court-appointed attorney when she did not want one, and the judge threatened
her with long-term jail and set a high bond based on her race and disability. Plaintiff also alleges
that she has been subjected to inhumane jail conditions at the Harper County Jail because she
was denied access to the commissary and to phone calls. Plaintiff’s request for relief seeks relief
from state control, freedom, and “punitive, monetary, compensatory, mental damages and court
fees.” Id. at 8.
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The Court found in the MOSC that it may be prohibited from hearing Plaintiff’s claims
under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45 (1971). The Court also found that to the extent
Plaintiff seeks relief from state control and freedom, such a challenge must be brought in a
habeas action. “[A] § 1983 action is a proper remedy for a state prisoner who is making a
constitutional challenge to the conditions of his prison life, but not to the fact or length of his
custody.” Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973) (emphasis added). When the legality
of a confinement is challenged so that the remedy would be release or a speedier release, the case
must be filed as a habeas corpus proceeding rather than under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the plaintiff
must comply with the exhaustion of state court remedies requirement. Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 482 (1994); see also Montez v. McKinna, 208 F.3d 862, 866 (10th Cir. 2000)
(exhaustion of state court remedies is required by prisoner seeking habeas corpus relief).
The Court also found in the MOSC that before Plaintiff may proceed in a federal civil
action for monetary damages based upon an invalid conviction or sentence, she must show that
her conviction or sentence has been overturned, reversed, or otherwise called into question.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). If Plaintiff has been convicted and a judgment on
Plaintiff’s claim in this case would necessarily imply the invalidity of that conviction, the claim
may be barred by Heck. Plaintiff has not alleged that the conviction or sentence has been
The Court also found that the State of Kansas and its agencies are absolutely immune
from suits for money damages under the Eleventh Amendment; the state court judge is entitled to
judicial immunity; Plaintiff’s claims against the county prosecutor fail on the ground of
prosecutorial immunity; and Plaintiff has not shown that her state court defense attorney was
acting under color of state law as required under § 1983. See Polk Cty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312,
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318–19, 321–23 (1981) (assigned public defender is ordinarily not considered a state actor
because their conduct as legal advocates is controlled by professional standards independent of
the administrative direction of a supervisor); see also Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81, 91 (2009);
Dunn v. Harper County, 520 Fed. Appx. 723, 725-26, 2013 WL 1363797 at *2 (10th Cir. Apr. 5,
2013) (“[I]t is well established that neither private attorneys nor public defenders act under color
of state law for purposes of § 1983 when performing traditional functions as counsel to a
criminal defendant.” (citations omitted)). A criminal defense attorney does not act under color of
state even when the representation was inadequate. Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 330 n.6
The Court also found that Plaintiff’s request for compensatory damages is barred by 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(e), because Plaintiff has failed to allege a physical injury; Plaintiff presents no
plausible basis for a claim of punitive damages because she alleges no facts whatsoever
establishing that any defendant acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind; and Plaintiff has
failed to state a claim regarding her conditions at the Harper County Jail that rises to the level of
a constitutional violation. To the extent she seeks injunctive relief, any request would be moot
because she is no longer housed at the Harper County Jail.
In her response, Plaintiff notified the Court that she was transported back to the Harper
County Jail on October 20, 2022. (Doc. 8, at 1.) She claims that during booking a jailer
intentionally created a fraudulent name in the system which denied her access to the commissary
and phone calls. Id. On November 15, 2022, Plaintiff notified the Court that she is no longer in
Plaintiff’s response fails to show good cause why her Complaint should not be dismissed
for the reasons set forth in the MOSC.
Case 5:22-cv-03210-JWL-JPO Document 9 Filed 11/18/22 Page 4 of 4
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT that this matter is dismissed for
failure to state a claim.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated November 18, 2022, in Kansas City, Kansas.
S/ John W. Lungstrum
JOHN W. LUNGSTRUM
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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