Brooks v. Seaman et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - This case is dismissed with prejudice. The court will enter judgment in a separate document. Ordered by Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (KLF)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
CLINTON BROOKS, JR.,
BENJAMIN SEAMAN, Lincoln Police
Officer; JANE BURKES, of the
Nebraska Bar Association In their
Official and Individual Capacities; and
Plaintiff filed a Complaint on February 3, 2017. (Filing No. 1.) He was given
leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 5.) The court now conducts an
initial review of Plaintiff’s Complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is
appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Plaintiff alleges that he “helped” Sharon Fitzgerald (“Sharon”) and her son,
Jordan, research for Jordan to file for divorce. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 1-2.)
Plaintiff informed Sharon that he was not an attorney, and Sharon paid Plaintiff for
his “help” with research. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 2.) Plaintiff claims that Sharon was not
happy when Jordan was later awarded supervised visitation. (Id.) She later asked
for her money back from Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff informed Sharon that he “had
helped her research the statutes and showed her how to draft and where to file her
appeal.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Sharon hired Defendant Teresa Richard
(“Richard”), who contacted Defendant Jane Burks (“Burks”) at the Nebraska Bar
Association. (Id.) Burks contacted Defendant Benjamin Seaman with the Lincoln
Police Department. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Officer Seaman cited him for
unauthorized practice of law. (Id.)
Plaintiff was later convicted in Lancaster County District Court of theft by
deception and unauthorized practice of law based upon his actions concerning
Sharon and her son. See State v. Brooks, 873 N.W.2d 460, 467-69 (Neb. App.
2016). The state district court sentenced Plaintiff to consecutive terms of 15 to 35
months’ imprisonment on the theft conviction and 3 to 3 months’ imprisonment on
the unauthorized practice of law. Id. at 469. Plaintiff appealed his convictions and
sentences to the Nebraska Court of Appeals. The court found that the trial court
committed plain error by erroneously instructing the jury that it could base its
guilty verdict for unauthorized practice of law on Plaintiff’s conduct that occurred
outside the statute of limitations. Id. at 475-77. It, therefore, reversed Plaintiff’s
conviction for unauthorized practice of law and remanded for a new trial on that
charge. Id. at 477-78. In doing so, the court determined that there was sufficient
evidence adduced at trial to sustain Plaintiff’s conviction and, further, his conduct
that occurred outside the statute of limitations would be admissible at a new trial to
provide “necessary context” to his unauthorized practice of law occurring with the
limitations period. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants “in their personal and official capacities had
Clinton Brooks Jr., illegally arrested and prosecuted. Clinton Brooks Jr.’s case was
ultimately reversed and remanded for a new trial, which was dismissed by the
county attorney’s office, and granted by the sentencing judge.” (Filing No. 1 at
CM/ECF pp. 2-3.) He seeks $900,000 from each defendant for “their part in having
plaintiff falsely arrested.” (Id. at CM/ECF p. 3.)
The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). First,
Plaintiff’s allegations are that Officer Seaman cited, not arrested, him.
Nevertheless, based upon the decision of the Nebraska Court of Appeals, the
evidence was sufficient to find that Plaintiff committed the offense of unauthorized
practice of law. His conviction was reversed because of an improper jury
instruction, not because he did not do it. The court must dismiss a complaint or any
portion of it 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). The court finds that
Plaintiff’s claim is frivolous and his Complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. The court will not allow Plaintiff to amend his Complaint
because amendment would be futile.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
This case is dismissed with prejudice.
The court will enter judgment in a separate document.
Dated this 30th day of March, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge
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