Woolman v. Auton
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER- Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed without prejudice; and a separate judgment will be entered in accordance with this Memorandum and Order. Ordered by Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp. (Copy e-mailed to pro se party)(MKR)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
MR. MICHAEL B. WOOLMAN,
JUDGE MATT AUTON,
CASE NO. 4:14CV3035
Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter on February 10, 2014. (Filing No. 1.) The
court now conducts an initial review of the Complaint to determine whether summary
dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Plaintiff brings this action against Lancaster County Court Judge Matt Auton. The
precise nature of Plaintiff’s allegations is difficult to discern. As best as the court can tell,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant is presiding over a probate case in which it is alleged that
Plaintiff is incapacitated. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 4.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
has “no proof by a reasonable doubt” that Plaintiff is incapacitated. (Id.) Plaintiff argues
that he needs “a hearing for judicial MISCONDUCT FOR ACTING OUT OF THE
PROBATE LAWYERS AND PROBATE OFFICE AND THE OUT OF WEDLOCK
FAMIL[IES] . . . .” (Id.)
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review prisoner and in forma pauperis complaints seeking
relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court
must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim,
that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge their claims
across the line from conceivable to plausible,” or “their complaint must be dismissed” for
failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (“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.”).
Regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented or is appearing pro se, the plaintiff’s
complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780
F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). However, a pro se plaintiff’s allegations must be
construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 104344 (8th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
Judges are absolutely immune from suits for damages arising from acts, whether
or not erroneous, in their judicial capacities, as long as such actions were not taken in the
complete absence of all jurisdiction. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991). Judicial
immunity is an immunity from suit, not just from damages, and “is not overcome by
allegations of bad faith or malice, the existence of which ordinarily cannot be resolved
without engaging in discovery and eventual trial.”
Id. Moreover, “[a] judge will not be
deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error . . . or was in excess of his
authority.” Id. at 12. (quotation omitted). Absolute judicial immunity applies to monetary
damages claims only and does not extend to suits requesting prospective injunctive relief.
Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 536-38 (1984).
Here, the only allegation Plaintiff makes against Defendant is that he is a judge
presiding over a probate matter, a quintessential judicial act. Plaintiff does not allege that
Defendant was doing anything other than performing a traditional judicial function in his
judicial capacity. Plaintiff’s allegations are insufficient to establish a plausible claim that
Defendant’s acts were not a normal judicial function or that his actions were taken in
complete absence of all jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Complaint against Defendant must
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed without prejudice; and
A separate judgment will be entered in accordance with this Memorandum
DATED this 29th day of May, 2014.
BY THE COURT:
s/Laurie Smith Camp
Chief United States District Judge
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