Hardin v. D'Agrosa et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [Doc. 4] is DENIED, as moot.IT IS FURTHE R ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint, because the complaint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.a062a. Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 4/18/13. (LGK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
LADARRA R. HARDIN,
PAUL J. D'AGROSA, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the application of LaDarra R. Hardin for
leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a). Upon consideration of the financial information provided with the
completed application, the Court finds that plaintiff is financially unable to pay any
portion of the filing fee. Therefore, plaintiff will be granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). For the reasons stated below, this action
will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may dismiss a complaint filed
in forma pauperis at any time if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who
is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007).
In reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must give the
complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). The Court must also weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff,
unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32
(1992); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
Plaintiff brings this action for the violation of her constitutional rights against
defendants Paul J. D'Agrosa (Municipal Judge, Olivette Municipal Court), Michael
Sheehan (Attorney), and Phillip Ayers (Municipal Judge). Plaintiff's allegations arise
out of a municipal court civil matter in Olivette, Missouri. Plaintiff claims that
defendant Sheehan "did not afford [her] proper representation," and defendants
D'Agrosa and Ayers "acted outside [their] judicial function by disregarding the civil
rights of [plaintiff]."
For relief, plaintiff seeks "to remove/reverse orders obtained
by unconstitutional methods, and to allow motions and petitions that were filed
properly and in a timely manner to be heard by a non-bias[ed] entity."
Although plaintiff has failed to state the jurisdictional grounds for filing this
action in Federal Court, the Court will liberally construe the complaint as having been
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that a person acting
under color of state law committed the acts which form the basis of the complaint.
Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled on other grounds, Daniels v.
Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986). The alleged actions of defendant Sheehan in
providing legal representation for plaintiff in municipal court do not constitute action
under color of state law for purposes of § 1983. See Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S.
312 (1981) (actions of public defender performing traditional functions of attorney do
not constitute action under color of state law); Myers v. Vogal, 960 F.2d 750, 750 (8th
Cir. 1992)(attorneys, whether appointed or retained, who represented plaintiff in state
court did not act under color of state law and were not subject to suit under § 1983);
Harkins v. Eldredge, 505 F.2d 802, 803 (8th Cir. 1974) (conduct of counsel, either
retained or appointed, in representing client does not constitute action under color of
state law). As such, the complaint is legally frivolous and will be dismissed as to
defendant Michael Sheehan.
The complaint is also frivolous and fails to state a claim or cause of action as
to Judges D'Agrosa and Ayers, because they are “entitled to absolute immunity for all
judicial actions that are not ‘taken in a complete absence of all jurisdiction.’” Penn v.
United States, 335 F.3d 786, 789 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S.
9, 11-12 (1991)); see also Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355-57 (1978).
Although plaintiff claims that Judges D'Agrosa and Ayers acted outside their
jurisdiction as "trespasser[s] of the law," these claims are both conclusory and legally
frivolous. For these reasons, the complaint is legally frivolous and will be dismissed
as to defendants Paul D'Agrosa and Phillip Ayers.
Last, the Court notes that it lacks jurisdiction to "reverse orders" or to order the
consideration of timely motions and petitions relative to the Olivette municipal court
case involving plaintiff. Federal district courts are courts of original jurisdiction; they
lack subject matter jurisdiction to engage in appellate review of state court decisions.
Postma v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan, 74 F.3d 160, 162 (8th Cir. 1996). Federal Court
review of state court decisions may be had only in the United States Supreme Court.
Id. Thus, to the extent that plaintiff is challenging a state or municipal court
judgment, her remedies, if any, lie not in federal district court, but rather, with the
Missouri state courts or the United States Supreme Court. For these reasons, the
instant action will be dismissed pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of
counsel [Doc. #4] is DENIED, as moot.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause
process to issue upon the complaint, because the complaint is legally frivolous and
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
See 28 U.S.C.
A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 18th day of April, 2013.
JOHN A. ROSS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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