Braden v. Petroff et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION entered. The action filed by Travien Braden lacks an arguable basis in law. His claims are DISMISSED with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). Braden's motion to proceed without prepayment of filing fees, (Docket Entry No.2), is granted. Any remaining pending motions are DENIED AS MOOT. (Signed by Chief Judge Lee H Rosenthal) Parties notified. (wbostic, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
TRA VIEN BRADEN,
A. PETROFF, et al.,
March 28, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. H-17-0866
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
Travien Braden, an inmate of the Harris County Jail ("HCJ"), sued in March 2017, alleging
a denial of due process. Braden is representing himself and has not paid the filing fee. He sues A.
Petroff, an Assistant District Attorney for Harris County who prosecuted him for aggravated assault
of a family member in Cause Number 1533577. He also sues Roshar Grme, the foreman of the
grand jury that indicted him. The threshold issue is whether Braden's claims may proceed or
whether they are subject to dismissal.
Braden alleges that ADA Petroff tried to coerce him to plead guilty, despite his innocence.
Braden alleges that the grand jury foreman, Grme, engaged in racial profiling and relied on false
information when preparing the indictment. Braden alleges that he has been wrongfully charged
with aggravated assault of a family member and detained in the HCJ since December 8, 2016,
without a probable cause hearing. Braden asks that the charges be dismissed for lack of evidence
and that he be released from the HCJ.
A federal court has the authority to dismiss a complaint in which the plaintiff is representing
himself if the court determines that it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. 28 U.S.C.
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§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i); see Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Richardson v. Spurlock, 260
F.3d 495,498 (5th Cir. 2001) (citing Siglar v. Hightower, 112 F.3d 191, 193 (5th Cir. 1997)). "A
complaint lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, such
as if the complaint alleges the violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist." Davis v.
Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir. 1998)(quotingMcCormickv. Stalder, 105 F.3d 1059, 1061 (5th
Prosecutors are entitled to immunity from suit and from liability for the acts they take in
pursuing the State's case. See Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 285 (5th Cir. 1994). Braden's claims
that ADA Petroff improperly charged him with aggravated assault of a family member and tried to
coerce him to plead guilty are barred by immunity. The prosecutor's intent is irrelevant as long as
he is prosecuting the State's claim. See Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409,427 (1976). Prosecutors
lose absolute immunity only when they take on roles outside of prosecuting or presenting the State's
case, such as when they provide legal advice to investigators. See Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478,
492-93 (1991). The acts Braden alleges against ADA Petroff are protected by immunity. Braden's
claims against ADA Petroff are dismissed with prejudice.
Braden's allegations against Grme, the foreman of the grand jury that returned the indictment
against Braden, are also protected by immunity. A grand jury foreman is entitled to absolute
immunity for signing and returning the indictment. See, e.g., Walker v. Skeen, 31 F. App'x 155 (5th
Cir. 2001). Braden's claims against Grme are also dismissed with prejudice.
The action filed by Travien Braden (SPN #02224269) lacks an arguable basis in law. His
claims are dismissed with prejudice under28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). Braden's motion to proceed
without prepayment of filing fees, (Docket Entry No.2), is granted. Any remaining pending motions
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are denied as moot.
The HCJ must deduct twenty percent of each deposit made to Braden's inmate trust account
and forward payments to the court on a regular basis, provided the account exceeds $10.00, until the
filing fee obligation of $350.00 is paid in full.
The Clerk will provide a copy of this order by regular mail, facsimile transmission, or e-mail
Sergeant Tom Katz, Inmate Trust Fund, 1200 Baker Street, Houston, Texas 77002,
Fax 713-755-4546; and
the District Clerk for the Southern District of Texas, Attention: Manager of the
SIGNED on March 27,2017, at Houston, Texas.
Lee H. Rosenthal
Chief United States District Judge
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