Belfield v. State of Missouri et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. # 2 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $14.72 within thirty (30) days of the dat e of this Order. Plaintiff is instructed to make his remittance payable to "Clerk, United States District Court," and to include upon it: (1) his name; (2) his prison registration number; (3) the case number; and (4) that the remittance is for an original proceeding. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that to the extent plaintiff has brought any s tate-law claims against defendants, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). An Order of Dismissal will accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on February 11, 2016. (BRP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MICHAEL GENE BELFIELD,
STATE OF MISSOURI, et al.,
No. 4:15CV1153 AGF
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff (registration no. 519994), an
inmate at South Central Correctional Center (“SCCC”), for leave to commence this action
without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that
plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial partial
filing fee of $14.72. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, based upon a review of the
complaint, the Court finds that the federal claims in the complaint should be dismissed pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To the extent that there are any state law claims encompassed in
the complaint, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over them. See 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), a prisoner bringing a civil action in forma pauperis is
required to pay the full amount of the filing fee. If the prisoner has insufficient funds in his or
her prison account to pay the entire fee, the Court must assess and, when funds exist, collect an
initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of (1) the average monthly deposits in the
prisoner's account, or (2) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the prior sixmonth period. After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner is required to make
monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's
account. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The agency having custody of the prisoner will forward these
monthly payments to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds
$10, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.
Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account statement
for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his complaint. A review of
plaintiff's account indicates an average monthly deposit of $73.61, and an average monthly
balance of $12.03. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the
Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $14.72, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma
pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is
frivolous if it Alacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.@ Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). An action is malicious if it is
undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of
vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F. Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D.N.C. 1987),
aff=d 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead
Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Plaintiff, Michael Gene Belfield, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of his civil rights. Plaintiff has named twenty-six (26) defendants in this action, made
up of individuals employed by the State of Missouri, Washington County Missouri, Franklin
County Missouri, and the Missouri Highway Patrol.1
Plaintiff has also specifically named the employers themselves as defendants in this
action, including the State of Missouri, Franklin County, Washington County, the Franklin
County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri Highway Patrol, Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and
Missouri Highway Patrol at Park Hills. In addition, plaintiff has named Governor Jeremiah
“Jay” Nixon, Judge Gael Woods, Prosecutor Robert Parks, Asst. Prosecutor Maren Mellum
Briegel and Sheriff Gary Tolke.
Plaintiff’s claims center around his arrest/parole revocation in 2003 for murder in the first
degree and armed criminal action. He was tried by a jury in the Circuit Court of Franklin County
and found guilty on May 17, 2006. On July 17, 2006, the Court sentenced plaintiff to life
without parole on the murder charge and three years’ imprisonment on the armed criminal action
charge, to be served concurrently. See State v. Belfield, Case No. 03CR332506 (20th Judicial
Circuit, Franklin County). Plaintiff filed a direct appeal of his conviction and sentence with the
Missouri Court of Appeals immediately after his conviction and sentence. His appeal was
denied by the appellate court on August 7, 2007.
See State v. Belfield, 230 S.W.3d 635
(Mo.Ct.App. 2007). 2
These defendants are: Jason Grellner (Detective); Tom Thacker (Detective); Dan Haley
(Detective); Unknown Hartwig; Kathy Guenther (Lieutenant); Maxine Eckelcamp; Scott Reed
(Corporal); Unknown Dochterman (Corporal); Russell Rost; Shawn Mackelprang (Asst.
Attorney General); John Smith (Washington County Parole Officer); Leonard De Shurley; and
On January 8, 2008, plaintiff filed his motion to vacate his conviction pursuant to Missouri
Supreme Court Rule 29.15. See Belfield v. State, Case No. 08AB-CC00009 (20th Judicial
Circuit, Franklin County). The Court denied plaintiff’s motion as untimely on February 1, 2008.
Plaintiff filed various motions for reconsideration of the dismissal of his motion to vacate, which
the trial court denied. Id. Plaintiff then filed an appeal of the denial of his motion to vacate, on
March 28, 2009. Plaintiff failed to follow the rules of appellate procedure, and it was dismissed
by the appellate court on September 24, 2008. See Belfield v. State, Case No. ED91156
Plaintiff has filed a ten-count complaint in this action, alleging violations of numerous
civil rights by defendants. In Counts I-V of his complaint, plaintiff asserts that “police” and
“prosecutors” destroyed and “suppressed” evidence in his criminal trial in 2006 and was “part
and parcel of malicious prosecution.” He asserts that both parties [prosecutors and the police]
knew that the main witnesses in the case, Chuck Belfield and Deborah Johnson, lied on the
stand, and he claims that they purposely ignored evidence that suggested his innocence and
recklessly or intentionally failed to investigate other guilty parties.
Plaintiff also alleges that the police and prosecution fabricated evidence to gain his
conviction and ignored evidence that suggested his innocence. Plaintiff asserts that he was the
subject of a malicious prosecution, and he asserts that numerous persons engaged in a conspiracy
to deny him his due process rights.
In Count VI, plaintiff asserts that it is the “custom and habit” of police, prosecutors and
judges in criminal actions to engage in such a conspiracy to violate the rights of those, like
plaintiff, who have been accused of crimes.
In Count VII, plaintiff claims that he was subjected to false arrest when his parole officer
“illegally assisted” the Washington County and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office by falsifying as
On July 6, 2009, plaintiff filed, in the trial court, a motion to reinstate his original Rule
29.15 motion. In that motion he alleged, for the first time, abandonment of counsel in the postconviction process. On July 14, 2009, the trial court denied plaintiff’s motion. See Belfield v.
State, Case No. 08AB-CC00009 (20th Judicial Circuit, Franklin County). Plaintiff appealed the
denial of his motion to reinstate the motion to vacate, on August 19, 2009. See Belfield v. State,
Case No. ED93559, 307 S.W.3d 680 (Mo.Ct.App. 2010). The case was submitted on the briefs
for a finding on plaintiff’s abandonment of counsel defense, and the trial court’s findings were
affirmed on March 16, 2010. Plaintiff’s motion for hearing/transfer to the Missouri Supreme
Court was denied on April 19, 2010. Id. The mandate was issued on May 11, 2010. Petitioner
filed his federal writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by placing the current
application in the mail on July 1, 2015. See Belfield v. Bowersox, 4:15CV1063 RLW (E.D.Mo.).
This Court ordered plaintiff to show cause why his petition should not be dismissed for
untimeliness on October 8, 2015. The petition for writ of habeas corpus was denied and
dismissed for untimeliness on January 26, 2016. Id.
urinalysis as “dirty” in a conspiracy to deny parole. Plaintiff asserts that because of this action,
he was subjected to an illegal search of his residence.
In Count VIII, plaintiff claims that prosecutor Robert Parks “defamed” him prior to his
criminal trial by releasing statements to the public newspapers that prejudiced the jury and
denied plaintiff the right to a fair trial.
In Count IX and X, plaintiff asserts that “defendants” and the State of Missouri are in
violation of “the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and “the Convention
Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatments” by holding him in slavery
or involuntary servitude.
In his request for relief, plaintiff seeks actual damages in excess of $100 million dollars
and punitive damages in excess of $1 billion.
A prisoner may not recover damages in a § 1983 suit where the judgment would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction, continued imprisonment, or sentence unless
the conviction or sentence is reversed, expunged, or called into question by issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994); Schafer v. Moore, 46 F.3d 43,
45 (8th Cir. 1995); Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 648 (1997) (applying rule in § 1983 suit
seeking declaratory relief). Thus, the majority of plaintiff’s constitutional claims are subject to
dismissal, pursuant to the doctrine espoused in Heck v. Humphrey.
However, this Court acknowledges that some § 1983 claims, such as those attributable to
an allegedly unreasonable search, may lie even if the challenged search produced evidence that
was introduced in a state criminal trial resulting in the § 1983 plaintiff’s still-outstanding
conviction. Because of doctrines like independent source and inevitable discovery, and
especially harmless error, such a § 1983 action, even if successful, would not necessarily imply
that the plaintiff’s conviction was unlawful. See Moore v. Sims, 200 F.3d 1170 (8th Cir. 2000).
Although it could be that plaintiff’s unlawful seizure and malicious prosecution claims fall in this
category, plaintiff’s claims cannot survive in this case because they are time-barred.
In Wallace v. Kato, the United States Supreme Court held that “the statute of limitations
upon a § 1983 claim seeking damages for a false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment,
where the arrest is followed by criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant is
detained pursuant to legal process.” 549 U.S. 384, 397 (2007). The Court observed that “[f]alse
arrest and false imprisonment overlap; the former is a species of the latter.” Id. at 388.
In this case, plaintiff was detained, and his statute of limitations began to run, in 2003.3
The statute of limitations on a § 1983 claim in Missouri is five years. See Sulik v. Taney County,
Mo., 393 F.3d 765, 766-67 (8th Cir. 2005); Mo. Rev. Stat. ' 516.120(4). Thus, plaintiff’s claims
against defendants pursuant to § 1983 that are not Heck-barred, are barred by the statute of
limitations, which ran out in 2008. Plaintiff is over seven (7) years late in bringing his claims to
Thus, in conclusion, plaintiff’s claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
defendants, for violations of his civil rights, and for “slavery” and “involuntary servitude,” are
subject to dismissal pursuant to the doctrine of Heck v. Humphrey 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and as
time-barred under the five-year statute of limitations in Missouri.
See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). To the extent that plaintiff has brought any state-law claims against defendants,
the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those claims. See 28 U.S.C. §
Plaintiff’s claims that defendants created evidence against him, unlawfully withheld evidence
and assisted witnesses in testifying falsely at his trial also appear to be Heck-barred. However, to
the extent that these claims are not barred by Heck, the latest these claims could accrue would
have been at the time of plaintiff’s criminal trial in 2006, and are therefore also barred by the
five-year statute of limitations.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc.
#2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $14.72
within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order. Plaintiff is instructed to make his remittance
payable to “Clerk, United States District Court,” and to include upon it: (1) his name; (2) his
prison registration number; (3) the case number; and (4) that the remittance is for an original
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that to the extent plaintiff has brought any state-law
claims against defendants, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those
claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
An Order of Dismissal will accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 11th day of February, 2016.
AUDREY G. FLEISSIG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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