Seaton v. Skeen
ORDERED that the Plaintiff's objections are overruled and the Report of the Magistrate Judge is adopted as the opinion of the District Court. Ordered that the civil action is dismissed with prejudice pursuant to 28 USC 1915(b)(1). All motions not previously ruled on are denied. Signed by Judge Ron Clark on 4/16/2017. (bjc, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
JUDGE JACK SKEEN, JR.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:16cv1321
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
Plaintiff Hubert Seaton, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the above-styled and
numbered civil rights lawsuit against Judge Jack Skeen, a state judge in Smith County, Texas. The
complaint was referred to United States Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell, who issued a Report
and Recommendation concluding that the lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice. Mr. Seaton
has filed objections.
Standard of Review and Reviewability
Where a magistrate judge's report has been objected to, the district court reviews the
recommendation de novo pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72. See also 28 U.S.C § 636(b)
(1) (“A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified proposed findings and recommendations to which objection is made.”). During a de novo
review, a court examines the entire record and makes an independent assessment of the law. When
no objections are filed, plaintiff is barred from de novo review by the district judge of those findings,
conclusions, and recommendations and, except upon grounds of plain error, from appellate review of
the unobjected-to factual findings and legal conclusions accepted and adopted by the district court.
Douglass v. United Services Automobile Association, 79 F.3d 1415, 1430 (5th Cir.1996) (en banc ).
Discussion and Analysis of Plaintiff’s Objections
The Report concluded that the lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice because
Mr. Seaton failed to meet the requirements of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994).
A Plaintiff who brings a civil suit for actions the unlawfulness of which would render a conviction
or sentence invalid must first prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed,
expunged, invalidated, or otherwise called into question. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87
(1994). To the extent Plaintiff could potentially bring a civil action against Judge Skeen, he must
first show that his convictions or sentences were reversed, expunged, invalidated or otherwise
called into question. Seaton has not satisfied the Heck requirements. Seaton did not object to the
Report’s finding regarding the Heck requirement; therefore, the findings and conclusions
regarding this issue are not subject to de novo review.
The Report also concluded that Judge Skeen had absolute immunity in this case. See Report
and Recommendation at 2. (Dkt. # 5). Mr. Seaton alleges in his brief objection that the Honorable
Jack Skeen Jr., the judge who presided over his criminal case in Smith County, “had no legal
jurisdiction whatsoever....there is no absolute immunity”. See Objections at 1. (dkt. # 13).
The Fifth Circuit held “that it remains appropriate for district courts to consider the possible
applicability of the doctrine of absolute immunity, . . .” Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 284 (5th Cir.
1994). Judges have absolute immunity for their decisions as judges. Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S.
193, 499-500 (1985); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978). The Fifth Circuit has repeatedly
held that judges are absolutely immune for all judicial acts not performed in clear absence of all
jurisdiction. Mitchell v. McBryde, 944 F.2d 229, 228 (5th Cir. 1991). See Barnes v. City of Universal
City, 51 F. App’x 482 (5th Cir. 2002) (municipal judges enjoy absolute immunity for judicial acts
performed in judicial proceedings). Despite Seaton’s conclusory statement to the contrary, Judge
Skeen had jurisdiction of the criminal case. Therefore, Judge Skeen has absolute immunity in this
In conclusion, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and is
frivolous in that it lacks any basis in law and fact. The lawsuit will be dismissed pursuant to 28
The Report of the Magistrate Judge, which contains her proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for the disposition of such action, has been presented for consideration, and having
made a de novo review of the objections adequately raised by Mr. Seaton to the Report, the court is
of the opinion that the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge are correct, and Mr. Seaton’s
objections are without merit. It is accordingly
ORDERED that the Plaintiff’s objections are overruled and the Report of the Magistrate
Judge is ADOPTED as the opinion of the District Court. It is further
ORDERED that the above-styled civil action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE pursuant
to 28 U.S.C.§1915(b)(1). All motions not previously ruled on are DENIED.
So Ordered and Signed
Apr 16, 2017
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