Adkins v. Johnson
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER; 1) 42 USC 1983 Complaint filed by pla is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE 2) court will enter appropriate judgment 3) this proceeding is DISMISSED AND STRICKEN from court's docket. Signed by Judge Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr on 10/13/15.(SMT)cc: COR, Adkins via USMail
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
NORTHERN DIVISION AT ASHLAND
GABRIEL I. ADKINS,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-68-HRW
**** **** **** ****
Plaintiff Gabriel I. Adkins is an inmate confined m the Boyd County
Detention Center located in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. Adkins has filed a prose civil
rights complaint asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Jay
Johnson, whom he identifies as "Bailiff, Boyd County Sheriff's Office." [D. E.
No. 1, p. 1] In a separate Payment Order, Adkins has been granted in forma
The Court conducts a preliminary review of Adkins's § 1983 complaint
because he asserts claims against a government official, and because he has been
granted infonna pauperis status in this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2); 1915A.
In such cases, a district court must dismiss any action which (i) is frivolous or
malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. !d. Because
Adkins is proceeding without an attorney, the Court liberally construes his claims
and accepts his factual allegations as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). But as
explained below, the Court will dismiss Adkins's § 1983 complaint without
prejudice, based on the principle offederal abstention.
ALLEGATIONS OF THE§ 1983 COMPLAINT
Adkins alleges that on three occasions between August 20, 2015, and August
24, 2015, he was involved in a series of verbal confrontations and/or physical
altercations with Johnson. [D. E. No. I, pp. 3-3] The complaint is difficult to
follow as to the exact sequence of events, but Adkins appears to be alleging that
Johnson accused him of stealing during the initial encounter; that Johnson had a
"negative & condescending attitude" toward him during one or all of these alleged
encounters; that Johnson searched him and arrested him during one of these
encounters; and that he was eventually taken to court over a result of some or all
these incidents. [ld.] The alleged encounters with Johnson appear to have begun
on August 20, 2015, when Adkins was in a pizza restaurant located in Ashland,
Kentucky, and culminated on August 24, 2015, as Adkins was being taken from
the Boyd County Courthouse, after making a court appearance. [!d. p. 4]
Adkins alleges that Johnson violated his rights guaranteed under the Fifth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and that as a result,
he has suffered "prejudice on new case that's pending." [Id., p. 4] Further, in
"laundry-list" fashion, Adkins used the following phrases to describe the conduct
about which he complains: (1) "assault on me;" (2) "malicious prosecution;" and
(3) "abuse of process." [Id.] Again, the complaint lacks clarity, but presumably
Adkins is claiming that Johnson engaged in these alleged actions. Adkins demands
$7,000,000.00 in damages to compensate him " ... mentally and physically," and
asks that" ... the proper punishment & justice done to all parties." [Id., p. 8]
According to the publically available records from the Boyd Circuit Court,
on August 22, 2015, Adkins was charged with two counts of Assault in the First
Degree. Commonwealth vs. Gabriel Isaiah Adkins, No. 15-F-00369 (Hon. Scott T.
Reese, presiding) (the State Court Criminal Case").
Adkins was arrested on
August 23, 2015, and on August 24, 2015, the Boyd Circuit Comi appointed a
public advocate to represent Adkins in the State Court Criminal Case, which has
been pending before the Boyd Circuit Grand Jury since September 2, 2015.
In his § 1983 complaint, Adkins alleges that Johnson violated his various
federal constitutional rights, caused him to suffer prejudice in a criminal case,
assaulted him, maliciously prosecuted him, and engaged in abuse of process.
Adkins did not specifically mention the State Comi Criminal Case, but it is logical
to conclude that in this § 1983 action, Adkins is attempting to collaterally
challenge Johnson's actions which may have led to criminal charges being filed
against him in the State Court Criminal Case. And in pursuing this collateral
challenge, Adkins is demanding $7 million in damages from Johnson.
Based on the abstention doctrine set forth in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37,
91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971), Adkins cannot recover damages from
Johnson in this § 1983 proceeding. Under the Younger abstention doctrine, federal
courts generally refrain from interfering with ongoing state criminal proceedings,
except under very limited circumstances. See Younger, 401 U.S. at 43, 91 S.Ct.
746. A district comi must examine three factors to determine whether it should
abstain from hearing a case under the Younger doctrine: "( 1) there must be ongoing state judicial proceedings; (2) those proceedings must implicate important
state interests; and (3) there must be an adequate opportunity in the state
proceedings to raise constitutional challenges." O'Neil v. Coughlan, 511 F. 3d
638, 643 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Sun Refining & Mktg. Co. v. Brennan, 921 F.2d
635, 639 (6th Cir. 1990)). This case satisfies all three of these factors: (1) an ongoing criminal proceeding against Adkins is pending in the state court; (2) that
state court criminal proceeding implicates important state interests (i.e., the full
investigation and prosecution of a defendant charged with first degree assault, a
serious felony); and (3) Adkins will have an adequate opportunity in the State
Court Criminal Case to raise any constitutional challenges concerning Johnson's
alleged actions between August 20-24, 2015, which may be associated with the
criminal charges filed against him.
Younger abstention is not a question of jurisdiction, but is rather based on
"strong policies counseling against the exercise of such jurisdiction." Ohio Civil
Rights Comm'n v. Dayton Christian Sch., Inc., 477 U.S. 619,626, 106 S. Ct. 2718,
91 L.Ed.2d 512 (1986). That analysis cetiainly applies here: if this Court were to
entertain Adkins's § 1983 complaint--in which he seeks damages from Johnson,
based on alleged events which may be material to, or have resulted in, the criminal
charges filed against him--it would be impermissibly interfering with the State
Court Criminal Case, currently pending in the Boyd Circuit Court. This Court
declines to take that course of action and effectively interfere with a criminal
prosecution pending in Kentucky state court. See Coles v. Granville, 448 FJd
853, 865 (6th Cir. 2006) ("When a person is the target of an ongoing state action
involving important state interests, a party cannot interfere with the pending state
action by maintaining a parallel federal action involving claims that could have
been raised in the state case."); Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State
Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982); Squire v. Coughlan, 469 F.3d 551, 555 (6th
Cir. 2006); Sun Refining, 921 F.2d at 638-42.
Therefore, the Comi will dismiss Adkins's § 1983 complaint without
prejudice to his right to assert his constitutional claims against Johnson, if
warranted, when State Court Criminal Case has concluded.
Accordingly, the Court being duly advised, IT IS ORDERED as follows:
The 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint filed by Plaintiff Gabriel I. Adkins
[D. E. No.1] is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
The Court will enter an appropriate Judgment.
This proceeding is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Court's
This October 13,2015.
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?