Weathers v. Beadle et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants are dismissed without prejudice to reassertion in a habeas corpus or other similar proceeding. The court will enter judgment by separate document. Ordered by Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (LAC)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
BRANDON J. WEATHERS,
BRENDA BEADLE, County Attorney;
DAVID PECHA, Officer #1487; L.
ROBERT MARCUZZO, Public
Defender #20108; and NATALIE M.
ANDREWS, Assistant Public Defender
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on February 24, 2017. (Filing No. 1.) He has
been given leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 6.) 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 is a prisoner confined at the Lincoln Correctional Center in Lincoln,
Nebraska. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 1.) He names four defendants in his
Complaint: Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle, Omaha Police
Officer David Pecha, and Assistant Douglas County Public Defenders L. Robert
Marcuzzo and Natalie Andrews. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 4.) Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants conspired to convict him when they withheld exculpatory text message
evidence from him and gave him (or allowed Defendant Beadle to give him)
fabricated text message evidence during discovery. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 4-8.) He
asserts that the fabricated evidence resulted in his conviction. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 8.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated various Nebraska criminal statutes and
his Fourteenth Amendment civil rights because they tampered with evidence. (Id.)
He seeks monetary damages. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 9.)
II. APPLICABLE STANDARDS OF 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) and 1915A. 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); 28 U.S.C. §
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.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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.”).
“The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair notice of the nature and basis or
grounds for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.’”
Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)). However, “[a]
pro se complaint must be liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.” Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted).
In Heck v. Humphrey, the Supreme Court held 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. 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994); Schafer v. Moore, 46 F.3d
43, 45 (8th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff maintains that Defendants tampered with evidence
when they withheld exculpatory text message evidence from him and allowed
fabricated evidence to convict him. The court cannot find in Plaintiff’s favor based
on such arguments without calling into question the legitimacy of his criminal
conviction. Heck makes clear that Plaintiff may not use a civil rights action to cast
doubt on the legality of his conviction or confinement. Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87.
Rather, he must first find a favorable outcome in a habeas corpus or other similar
proceeding. For these reasons, the court will dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against
Defendants without prejudice to reassertion in a habeas corpus or other similar
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants are dismissed without prejudice
to reassertion in a habeas corpus or other similar proceeding.
The court will enter judgment by separate document.
Dated this 27th day of April, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge
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