JOHNSON EL et al v. NC DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY et al
ORDER: The Clerk of this Court is hereby ordered to transfer this action to the Middle District of North Carolina for further proceedings, including ruling on the pending motions. Signed by Chief Judge Martin Reidinger on 4/1/2021. (Pro se litigant served by US Mail.) (khm) [Transferred from North Carolina Western on 4/1/2021.]
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
CIVIL CASE NO. 5:21-cv-00052-MR
MONTAVIUS A. JOHNSON-EL, et al., )
NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT
OF PUBLIC SAFETY, et al.,
THIS MATTER is before the Court on review of the Complaint [Doc. 1].
Also pending are an Application to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2] and a
Motion to Appoint Counsel [Doc. 3].
The pro se Complaint purports to be a class action civil rights suit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and names two Plaintiffs: Montavius A.
Johnson-El,1 who is presently incarcerated at the Columbus Correctional
Institution; and Shirley Ann Holden, who does not appear to be incarcerated
and has not signed the Complaint or filed a motion to proceed in forma
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s website, Plaintiff’s name
is Montavious A. Johnson. See https://webapps.doc.state.nc.us/opi/offendersearch.do?
method=list (last visited Mar. 30, 2021).
The Complaint addresses an incident when Plaintiff Holden
allegedly attempted to bring contraband into Albemarle C.I. to Plaintiff
Johnson-El during visitation on February 3, 2019, which resulted in the
imposition of disciplinary sanctions against Plaintiff Johnson-El.
Complaint names as Defendants: the North Carolina Department of Public
Safety (“NCDPS”); three Albemarle C.I. correctional officers; an Albemarle
C.I. disciplinary hearing officer; the Albemarle C.I. administrator; an NCDPS
security specialist in Raleigh; and the NCDPS director of prisons in Raleigh.
Under the general venue provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), a civil action
may be brought in “(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all
defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located; (2) a
judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim occurred … ; or (3) if there is no district in which an action
may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in
Every pleading must be signed by an attorney or by a party personally if the party is
unrepresented. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(a). Plaintiff Johnson-El is advised that attempting to
represent the legal interests of anyone other than himself, unless he is licensed to practice
in the State of North Carolina or is admitted elsewhere and specifically admitted,
constitutes the unauthorized practice of law, which is a criminal offense in the State of
North Carolina. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 84-4, 84-8; see also Myers v. Loudoun Cnty. Pub.
Schls., 418 F.3d 395, 400 (4th Cir. 2005) (“An individual unquestionably has the right to
litigate his own claims in federal court.... The right to litigate for oneself, however, does
not create a coordinate right to litigate for others”); Hummer v. Dalton, 657 F.2d 621, 625
(4th Cir. 1981) (a pro se prisoner’s suit is “confined to redress for violations of his own
personal rights and not one by him as knight-errant for all prisoners.”).
which any defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction with
respect to such action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Further, a court may transfer
a civil action to any district where the action might have originally been
brought “[f]or the convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
The incidents at issue in this case allegedly occurred at Albemarle C.I.,
and several of the Defendants are identified as Albemarle C.I. employees.
The Court notes that Albemarle C.I. is located in Stanly County in the Middle
District of North Carolina. The Complaint also names as Defendants certain
NCDPS employees, who are employed in Raleigh, which is located in Wake
County in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Plaintiff Johnson-El is
presently incarcerated at Columbus C.I., which is located in Columbus
County in the Eastern District of North Carolina.3 To the extent that the
Plaintiff may be able to state a cognizable claim against any Defendant,
venue is appropriate in the Middle District of North Carolina, where the
events giving rise to the claims occurred and where most of the Defendants
appear to be located.
As stated above, Ms. Holden is not properly before the Court at this time. As such, her
domicile is not relevant.
For the reasons stated herein, this action will be transferred to the
Middle District of North Carolina.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Clerk of this Court is hereby
ordered to transfer this action to the Middle District of North Carolina for
further proceedings, including ruling on the pending motions.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Signed: April 1, 2021
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