Terry-Lee v. North Valley County Water and Sewer District et al
ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS for 98 Findings and Recommendations ; granting 85 Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice. Any appeal of this decision would not be taken in goo d faith as the Amended Complaint lacks arguable substance in law or fact. The Clerk if directed to enter judgment accordingly. Signed by Judge Brian Morris on 3/13/2018. (Copy of order mailed to Pltf) (MMS) Modified on 3/13/2018 to correct typo in docket text (MMS).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
GREAT FALLS DIVISION
NORTH VALLEY COUNTY WATER
AND SEWER DISTRICT, et al.,
Plaintiff Terry-Lee filed an Amended Complaint pro se on September 23,
2015. (Doc. 40). The Amended Complaint, construed liberally, asserts claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Terry-Lee’s claims are premised upon his conviction
for misdemeanor theft in Valley County Justice Court on June 5, 2015. Mr. TerryLee alleges that the Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth,
and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 40 at 4-9).
Mr. Terry-Lee seeks injunctive and declaratory relief. Mr. Terry-Lee requests that
the Court put “a halt to everything that is happening in state court in this matter,”
and declare that the Defendants have violated his constitutional rights. (Doc. 40 at
United States Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered Findings and
Recommendations in this matter on February 14, 2018. (Doc. 98). Judge Johnston
determined that Mr. Terry-Lee’s claims were barred by the Younger abstention
doctrine. (Doc. 98 at 4-6). Judge Johnston recommended that the Defendants’
Motion for Summary Judgment be granted, and that this action be dismissed. (Doc.
98 at 7). Mr. Terry-Lee filed objections to Judge Johnston’s Findings and
Recommendations on February 28, 2018. (Doc. 103).
The Court reviews de novo findings and recommendations to which
objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court has reviewed Judge
Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations de novo. The Court finds no error in
Judge Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations, and adopts them in full.
Mr. Terry-Lee’s claims for injunctive and declaratory relief challenge
pending state court criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court’s decision in
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), directs federal courts to abstain from
granting injunctive or declaratory relief that would interfere with pending state
judicial proceedings. Id. at 40-41. A federal court must abstain under Younger if
the following four requirements are met: (1) a state initiated proceeding is ongoing;
(2) the state judicial proceeding implicates important state interests; (3) the federal
plaintiff is not barred from litigating federal constitutional issues in the state
proceeding; and (4) the federal court action would enjoin the state proceeding or
have the practical effect of doing so. Gilbertson v. Albright, 381 F.3d 965, 978 (9th
All elements of Younger abstention are established in this case. First there
exists an ongoing criminal action against Mr. Terry-Lee in the Montana Supreme
Court. The Montana Supreme Court upheld Mr. Terry-Lee’s conviction on January
16, 2018. See State v. Terrance Lee Brauner, a/k/a Terry-Lee, 2018 WL 417289
(Mont. Jan. 16, 2018). Mr. Terry-Lee filed an objection and a petition for rehearing
on January 29, 2018. The petition is pending before the Montana Supreme Court.
The criminal proceeding implicates important state interests. The State of Montana
has a significant state interest in prosecuting conduct that constitutes a criminal
offense under Montana law. Mr. Terry-Lee will have an adequate opportunity to
litigate federal constitutional issues in the state court proceeding. And finally, any
decision by this Court as to whether Mr. Terry-Lee’s conviction violated his
constitutional rights would interfere unduly with the state criminal proceeding.
This Court must abstain therefore from adjudicating
Mr. Terry-Lee’s claims
for injunctive and declaratory relief.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED:
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 85) is GRANTED.
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (Doc. 40) is DISMISSED without
Any appeal of this decision would not be taken in good faith as
the Amended Complaint lacks arguable substance in law or fact.
The Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.
DATED this 13th day of March, 2018.
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