Puckett v. Walmart Store #5823 et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER affirming 39 ORDER denying Motion for Reconsideration. (Ordered by Judge Sidney A Fitzwater on 10/6/2017) (Judge Sidney A Fitzwater)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
WALMART STORE #5823, ET AL.,
§ Civil No. 3:15-CV-2029-D
Plaintiff Jonathan Puckett (“Puckett”) appeals to “a higher authority” the magistrate
judge’s order denying reconsideration of the magistrate judge’s previous order denying
without prejudice Puckett’s motion for court-appointed counsel. The court, construing
Puckett’s appeal as an objection under Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a), overrules the objection and
affirms the order.
Judge Horan denied reconsideration of his order denying without prejudice the motion
to appoint counsel, citing the court’s continued screening of this action under Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), which “prohibits a plaintiff from using a § 1983 suit to
challenge the validity of his conviction or sentence, unless the plaintiff demonstrates that the
conviction or sentence has in some way been reversed or invalidated.” Daigre v. City of
Waveland, Miss., 549 Fed. Appx. 283, 286 (5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam). As Judge Horan
explained in his September 7, 2017 order, “[a]n action presenting claims that are Heck-barred
is not the rare case in which the claims (or some of those claims) are not only nonfrivolous
but also complex and in which those characteristics, along with the characteristics of the
litigant, warrant the appointment of counsel,” and therefore “Puckett has failed to show either
that the previous order contained manifest errors of law that should be corrected or that
newly-discovered evidence supports his motion for reconsideration.”
Because Judge Horan’s order involves a nondispositive matter, Puckett’s objections
are governed by Rule 72(a), which provides, in pertinent part, that “[t]he district judge . . .
must . . . modify or set aside any part of the [magistrate judge’s] order that is clearly
erroneous or is contrary to law.” Rule 72(a). “When a party appeals a magistrate judge’s
order, [it] must demonstrate how the order is reversible under the applicable standard of
review—de novo for error of law, clear error for fact findings, or abuse of discretion for
discretionary matters.” Jefferson-Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Bellows, 2003 WL 21501904, at *1
(N.D. Tex. June 24, 2003) (Fitzwater, J.).
“The clearly erroneous standard applies to the factual
components of the magistrate judge’s decision.” Lahr v.
Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P., 164 F.R.D. 204, 208 (N.D.
Tex.1996) (Fitzwater, J.) (quoting Smith v. Smith, 154 F.R.D.
661, 665 (N.D.Tex.1994) (Fitzwater, J.)) (internal quotation
marks omitted). “The district court may not disturb a factual
finding of the magistrate judge unless, although there is
evidence to support it, the reviewing court is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.”
Id. (quoting Smith, 154 F.R.D. at 665) (internal quotation marks
and brackets omitted). “If a magistrate judge’s account of the
evidence is plausible in light of the record viewed in its entirety,
a district judge may not reverse it.” Id. (quoting Smith, 154
F.R.D. at 665) (internal quotation marks omitted). The legal
conclusions of the magistrate judge are reviewed de novo, and
the district judge “reverses if the magistrate judge erred in some
respect in [his] legal conclusions.” Id. (citing Smith, 154 F.R.D.
at 665). “[T]he abuse of discretion standard governs review of
that vast area of ... choice that remains to the [magistrate judge]
who has properly applied the law to fact findings that are not
clearly erroneous.” Id. (quoting Smith, 154 F.R.D. at 665)
(alteration and ellipsis in original) (internal quotation marks
Stanissis v. Dyncorp Int’l, LLC, 2015 WL 5603722, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 23, 2015)
Applying these standards to the order denying reconsideration of the order denying
without prejudice court-appointed counsel, the court holds that no part of the order is clearly
erroneous or contrary to law. Accordingly, Puckett’s objection is overruled, and Judge
Horan’s September 7, 2017 order denying reconsideration is
October 6, 2017.
SIDNEY A. FITZWATER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?