Rogers v. Wilson et al
OPINION AND ORDER adopting 10 Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker. This action is DISMISSED without prejudice and without service of process. Signed by Honorable Timothy M Cain on 7/16/2015.(ssam, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Hayward L. Rogers,
Alan McCory Wilson, and
R. Knox McMahon, Judge,
C/A No. 2:15-1886-TMC
OPINION & ORDER
Plaintiff Heyward L. Rogers’ (“Rogers”), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02, D.S.C., this matter was referred to a magistrate judge for pretrial handling. Before
the court is the magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation (“Report”), recommending that
Plaintiff’s Complaint be dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.
(ECF No. 10). Plaintiff was advised of his right to file objections to the Report. (ECF No. 10 at
8). Plaintiff timely filed objections. (ECF No. 15).
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the court. The recommendation
has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making a de
novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objection is made, and the
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate
Judge, or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, the court need
not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that
do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate’s proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a
timely filed, specific objection, the Magistrate Judge’s conclusions are reviewed only for clear
error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
In his Complaint, Rogers raises several allegations regarding a state post-conviction relief
(“PCR”) he filed in August 2012. (Compl. at 3). He alleges violations of his due process rights
and denial of access to the courts. (Id. at 4). Rogers asks this court to compel Defendants to
provide him with evidence, including copies of search warrants, transcripts of the grand jury
proceedings, and DNA test results, and schedule a hearing in the pending state PCR proceeding.
(Compl. at 5). Noting that federal courts do not have the jurisdiction to compel action by state
officials, and Defendant Judge R. Knox McMahon is entitled to judicial immunity, the magistrate
judge recommended dismissal of this action without prejudice and without service of process.
(Report at 4-6).
As noted above, Rogers timely filed objections, including 87 pages of attachments.
Although most of his objections are not specific, the court was able to glean the following two
objections. First, Rogers contends that this case involves extraordinary circumstances, his actual
innocence, which would allow this court to intervene. Second, Rogers contends that Judge
McMahon is not entitled to judicial immunity because he has refused to schedule a hearing on
Rogers’ pending state PCR action.
First, as the magistrate judge determined, the relief which Rogers seeks is clearly in the
nature of mandamus relief. “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any action in the
nature of mandamus to compel an officer or employee of the United States or any agency thereof
to perform a duty owed to the plaintiff.” 28 U.S.C. § 1361. However, a federal court does not
have jurisdiction to grant mandamus relief against state officials. Gurley v. Superior Court of
Mecklenburg Cnty., 411 F.2d 586, 587 (4th Cir. 1969). As the Defendants in this action are state
officials, this court does not have jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus against them.
Additionally, as to Judge McMahon, it is well established that judges enjoy immunity
from suit for actions taken in their judicial capacity. See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9 (1991);
Pressly v. Gregory, 831 F.2d 514, 517 (4th Cir. 1987).1 While Rogers is apparently not seeking
any monetary damages against Judge McMahon, absent extraordinary circumstances, federal
courts are not authorized to interfere with a State's pending criminal proceedings. See, e.g.,
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971)(absent extraordinary circumstances, federal courts are not
authorized to interfere with a state's pending criminal proceedings). See also Cinema Blue of
Charlotte, Inc. v. Gilchrist, 887 F.2d 49 (4th Cir. 1989). In Cinema Blue, the Fourth Circuit Court
of Appeals ruled that federal district courts should abstain from constitutional challenges to state
judicial proceedings, no matter how meritorious, if the federal claims have been or could be
presented in an ongoing state judicial proceeding. Id. at 52. Therefore, any request for a hearing
in Rogers’ pending state PCR action may be presented in state court.
Accordingly, the court adopts the Report (ECF No. 10) and this action is DISMISSED
without prejudice and without service of process.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Timothy M. Cain
United States District Judge
Anderson, South Carolina
July 16, 2015
Rogers also seeks appointment of counsel in this case. (Compl. at 5). However, because
this action is being summarily dismissed, Rogers is not entitled to the appointment of counsel.
Jackson v. James Ludvick, P.O., 1995 WL 42256, *1 (S.D.N.Y., Feb.2, 1995) (magistrate judge's
order denying appointment of counsel because case subject to dismissal).
NOTICE OF RIGHT TO APPEAL
The parties are hereby notified of the right to appeal this order pursuant to Rules 3 and 4
of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
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