Goodwin v. Jackson et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Docket No. 2 ) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is DISMISSED without prejudice. A separate order of dismissal will be entered herewith. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs Motion to Appoint Counsel (Docket No. 4 ) is DENIED as moot. IT IS HEREBY CERTIFIED that an appeal from this dismissal would not be taken in good faith. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 11/21/2017. (KCB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CAROL JACKSON, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the court upon the motion of plaintiff Michael Goodwin for leave to
proceed herein in forma pauperis. Upon consideration of the financial information provided with
the motion, the Court has determined that plaintiff is financially unable to pay the filing fee.
Therefore, the motion will be granted. Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the
Court finds that this action should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Legal Standard on Initial Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma
pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions" and
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
A plaintiff must
demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct."
Id. at 679. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a
context-specific task that requires the rev1ewmg court to, inter alia, draw upon judicial
experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
When conducting initial review pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give the
complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
However, this does not mean that pro se complaints may be merely conclusory. Even pro se
complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law.
Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912,
914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (federal courts are not required to "assume facts that are not alleged, just
because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint"). In addition,
affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural
rules in ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who
proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. US., 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
Plaintiff titles his complaint "Felony Obstruction of Court Orders U.S. Code Chapter 731509." The named defendants are Carol Jackson, a retired United States District Judge for the
Eastern District of Missouri, and Richard Sindel, an attorney. Plaintiffs allegations stem from
criminal proceedings in which he was a defendant.
Plaintiff states that he "is bringing this
charge of Felony obstruction of court orders against Judge Carol Jackson because the U.S. Court
of Appeals ordered the district court to explain how [his] sentence was calculated without using
crack," and Judge Jackson denied his request for exoneration of his conviction due to a defective
indictment. (Docket No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Sindel was appointed as his attorney
but withdrew from the case, and that he "obstructed court orders" because, had he accepted his
appointment, he could have presented certain arguments on his behalf. Id at 4-5. Plaintiff also
alleges that Mr. Sindel "should have come to argue for [plaintiffs] early release due to his
understanding of the plea agreement between his client and the government but refused his
For his prayer for relief, plaintiff asks this Court to "hold Judge Carol Jackson
accountable along with attorney Richard Sindel by charging them with Felony Obstruction of
Court Orders in [plaintiffs] case." Id.
This Court cannot, as plaintiff requests, compel a criminal prosecution. See Ray v. Dep 't
of Justice, 508 F. Supp. 724, 725 (E.D. Mo. 1981) ("It is well settled that initiation of federal
criminal prosecution is a discretionary decision within the Executive Branch not subject to
judicial compulsion") (citations omitted). Furthermore, it is axiomatic that plaintiff, as a private
citizen, does not have a constitutional right or any other basis to compel a criminal investigation
or have another person prosecuted for a crime. See Mitchell v. McNeil, 487 F.3d 374, 378 (6th
Cir. 2007) ("There is no statutory or common law right, much less a constitutional right, to an
investigation."); see also Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973) ("a private citizen
lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or nonprosecution of another.").
Therefore, to the extent the complaint requests that a criminal investigation and/or prosecution be
initiated against the defendants, the complaint will be dismissed.
To the extent plaintiff can be understood to bring a civil lawsuit against Judge Jackson,
the complaint is frivolous and subject to dismissal. Judges are "entitled to absolute immunity for
all judicial actions that are not 'taken in 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)).
In this case, Judge Jackson's allegedly unlawful actions were judicial in nature, and as a United
States District Judge in the Eastern District of Missouri, she took such judicial action pursuant to
that court's jurisdiction granted to it by the United States Constitution. See U.S. CONST. art. III.
Finally, to the extent plaintiff can be understood to bring a civil lawsuit against Mr. Sindel, the
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff does not allege that
Mr. Sindel withdrew absent leave of court, and because he was not plaintiffs attorney, he was
under no obligation to represent him in court or present argument on his behalf.
foregoing reasons, this case will be dismissed pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis (Docket No. 2) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is DISMISSED without prejudice. A
separate order of dismissal will be entered herewith.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs Motion to Appoint Counsel (Docket No.
4) is DENIED as moot.
IT IS HEREBY CERTIFIED that an appeal from this dismissal would not be taken in
day ofNovember, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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