Tyler v. Bogle et al
ORDER adopting Report and Recommendations of Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant. Therefore, it is the judgment of the Court that Plaintiffs Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND WITHOUT ISSUANCE AND SERVICE OF PROCESS. Signed by Honorable Mary Geiger Lewis on 10/5/2017.(cwhi, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
LARRY JAMES TYLER,
JAMES BOGLE, SR., ESQ., and
JAMES K. FALK
CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:17-01251-MGL
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION,
AND DISMISSING PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT
This case was filed as an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se.
The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (Report) of the
United States Magistrate Judge suggesting Plaintiff’s Complaint be dismissed without prejudice
and without issuance and service of process. The Report was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this 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 (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).
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on May 15, 2017. ECF No. 1. On July 25, 2017, the
Magistrate Judge issued a first Report recommending the Court dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint
without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. ECF No. 9. Plaintiff filed
objections. ECF No. 11. In an abundance of caution, the Court construed one of Plaintiff’s
objections as a motion for leave to amend the complaint to change the Defendants. ECF No. 12.
The Court thus vacated the Magistrate Judge’s July 25, 2017 Report, directed Plaintiff to file his
amended complaint no later than September 8, 2017, and remanded the case to the Magistrate
Judge. Id. Plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint.
The Magistrate Judge filed the instant Report on September 20, 2017, ECF No. 19, and
the Clerk of Court entered Plaintiff's objections to the Report on October 2, 2017, ECF No. 21.
The Court has reviewed the objections, but holds them to be without merit. Therefore, it will
enter judgment accordingly.
Plaintiff first objects his § 1983 proceeding would not necessarily invalidate his
confinement or duration, so Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), does not bar his claim for
monetary damages, and the collateral order doctrine allows him an immediate appeal from the
underlying State proceedings.
Plaintiff also claims because he is challenging the
constitutionality of his State court proceedings, not the validity or duration of his confinement,
Heck does not bar his claims for declaratory or injunctive relief. The Magistrate Judge suggested
Heck barred Plaintiff’s claims for monetary damages, declaratory relief, and injunctive relief.
Plaintiff’s objection fails for two reasons. First, a state prisoner is barred from bringing
claims under § 1983 when the success of his § 1983 action necessarily implies his underlying
conviction or sentence is invalid unless the underlying conviction or sentence has been
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87 (barring claims for monetary damages),
Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005) (indicating that the same bar applies to § 1983
actions whether they seek damages or equitable relief). Plaintiff, who is currently detained at the
Darlington County Detention Center awaiting civil commitment proceedings under the South
Carolina Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), challenges the validity of a probable cause
hearing held in connection with his SVPA proceedings. For Plaintiff to succeed on his § 1983
claim, he must show that a person acting under color of state law deprived him of a federal right.
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Success on that claim would necessarily imply Plaintiff’s underlying
conviction or sentence was invalid, and Plaintiff has failed to show his sentence or conviction
was previously invalidated. Thus, Heck bars his claims.
Second, the collateral order doctrine allows the appeal of certain non-final rulings. See,
e.g., Mohawk Indus., Inc. v. Carpenter, 558 U.S. 100, 106-07 (2009) (citations omitted).
Plaintiff, however, does not seek an appeal of his underlying State court proceeding. Rather, he
filed a § 1983 action. Thus, the collateral order doctrine does not apply. On that basis, the Court
will overrule Plaintiff’s objection regarding his claims for monetary damages, injunction, and
declaratory relief being barred.
Plaintiff next argues that abstention does not apply because his civil commitment is not a
criminal proceeding, and there has been a substantial due process violation here. The Magistrate
Judge noted that under abstention doctrines, the federal court would abstain from State criminal
proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances, and would abstain from constitutional
challenges to State judicial proceedings if the federal claims could be presented in the State
proceeding. As a preliminary matter, federal courts should abstain from interfering in State
criminal prosecutions absent extraordinary circumstances. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37,
43-44 (1971). Further, federal district courts should not decide constitutional challenges to State
judicial proceedings if the federal claims could be raised in the ongoing State proceedings.
Cinema Blue of Charlotte, Inc. v. Gilchrist, 887 F.2d 49, 52 (4th Cir. 1989) (citing Haw. Hous.
Auth. v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229, 237-38 (1984)). Though civil commitment under the South
Carolina SVPA is civil rather than criminal, the Heck bar applies to civil rights challenges to the
SVPA, like the one at issue here. See Huftile v. Miccio-Fonseca, 410 F.3d 1136, 1139-40 (9th
Cir. 2005) (holding Heck applies to civilly committed detainees who are confined under
California's “Sexually Violent Predators Act”). Additionally, Plaintiff could have brought his
constitutional challenge to the underlying State proceeding in that State proceeding. For those
reasons, the Court will overrule Plaintiff’s objections to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendations
Plaintiff alleges the Magistrate Judge erred in suggesting Plaintiff requested release from
custody. The Magistrate Judge, however, did not state Plaintiff requested release from custody,
but merely noted “to the extent Plaintiff is requesting release from custody, such relief may only
be obtained in a habeas action, not in a § 1983 case.” ECF No. 19 at 7. Because the Magistrate
Judge did not state Plaintiff requested release from custody, the Court will overrule Plaintiff’s
objection on this point.
Plaintiff then argues the Magistrate Judge erred in suggesting Plaintiff improperly
brought claims against his defense attorney, James K. Falk. The Magistrate Judge suggested
Falk was entitled to summary dismissal because he did not act under color of state law, and thus
is not subject to liability under § 1983. According to Plaintiff, Falk acted under color of state
law because he conspired with the State to have Plaintiff civilly committed.
prosecutor or the court, [defense] counsel ordinarily is not considered a state actor.” Vt. v.
Brillon, 556 U.S. 81, 91 (2009). A defense attorney may be acting under color of state law,
however, where he conspires with state officials to deprive another of his federal rights. See
Tower v. Glover, 467 U.S. 914, 919-20 (1984) (citations omitted). Although Plaintiff alleges in
both his Complaint and his objection that Falk conspired with state officials to violate Plaintiff’s
civil rights, Plaintiff provides no facts supporting this allegation. For this reason, the Court will
overrule Plaintiff’s objection regarding the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation Falk be
Plaintiff avers the Magistrate Judge erred in recommending James Bogle Sr., the
prosecutor in Plaintiff’s State proceeding, was immune from § 1983 liability under prosecutorial
immunity. Plaintiff argues that “state immunity rules do not apply in state court action § 1983.”
ECF No. 21 at 8. As a preliminary matter, this is not a State court action, but a federal court
Even assuming-under liberal construction rules--Plaintiff meant to say that state
immunity rules do not apply in a federal § 1983 action, his objection still fails for two reasons.
First, the Magistrate Judge based his recommendation on prosecutorial immunity, not
state immunity. Second, the law is clear: a prosecutor is immune from liability under § 1983 for
those activities “intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process . . . .”
Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430 (1976). Because the activities Bogle undertook were
“intimately associated with the judicial phase” of the proceedings against Plaintiff under South
Carolina’s SVPA, Bogle is immune from liability under § 1983. Accordingly, the Court will
overrule Plaintiff’s objection as to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation regarding Bogle.
Finally, Plaintiff alleges he did not fail to comply with the Court’s Order directing him to
file an amended complaint. Rather, he never received the Order because the mail department at
the jail failed to deliver it to him. Plaintiff thus requests the Court send him a new Order to
amend his Complaint, and he will substitute John Doe as a Defendant for Bogle until he learns
the name of the actual prosecutor at his probable cause hearing. Even if Plaintiff substituted the
actual prosecutor, or for that matter, the Attorney General of South Carolina (whom the Court
thought Plaintiff originally sought to substitute for Bogle) as a Defendant for Bogle,
prosecutorial immunity would protect those prosecutors from § 1983 liability just as it protects
Bogle. For that reason, the Court will overrule Plaintiff’s objection to the Magistrate Judge’s
suggestion regarding his failure to comply with the Court’s Order.
After a thorough review of the Report and the record in this case pursuant to the standard
set forth above, the Court overrules Plaintiff’s objections, adopts the Report, and incorporates it
herein. Therefore, it is the judgment of the Court that Plaintiff’s Complaint is DISMISSED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND WITHOUT ISSUANCE AND SERVICE OF PROCESS.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Signed this 5th day of October, 2017, in Columbia, South Carolina.
s/ Mary Geiger Lewis
MARY GEIGER LEWIS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
NOTICE OF RIGHT TO APPEAL
The parties are hereby notified of the right to appeal this Order within 30 days from the
date hereof, pursuant to Rules 3 and 4 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
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