Elliott v. Collins
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL. plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). This dismissal constitutes a strike for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The Clerk of Court shall send a copy of this dis missal by email to the Clerk of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, 515 Rusk Street, Houston, Texas, 77002, Attention: Three-Strikes List Manager, at Three_Strikes@txs.uscourts.gov.The Clerk of Court will provide a copy of this Order to all the parties of record. Email sent to Manager of Three Strikes List. (Signed by Judge Melinda Harmon) Parties notified.(rhawkins)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
KENDRICK LAVAR ELLIOTT,
April 19, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. H-17-1056
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
Plaintiff, currently in custody at the Harris County Jail, has filed this section 1983 lawsuit
pro se against the trial judge in his criminal case. (Docket Entry No. 1). Based on a careful
review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court DISMISSES this lawsuit
as frivolous and for failure to state a claim as outlined below.
Plaintiff discloses that he was charged with failing to register as a sex offender in case
number 1499861, in the 208th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas, and was held
without bond for thirteen and a half months. See Docket Entry No. 1 at 1. Plaintiff alleges
further that he was “found innocent” on March 29, 2017. Id.
Public court records indicate that case number 1499861 was dismissed because Plaintiff
was convicted of evading arrest in case number 1499673 and was sentenced to fourteen months
imprisonment in state jail for that offense. See State v. Elliott, Harris County cause no. 1499861,
at Motion to Dismiss (208th Dist. Ct. Mar. 29, 2017); State v. Elliott, Harris County cause no.
1499673, at Judgment of Conviction (208th Dist. Ct. Mar. 29, 2017). He now brings a section
1983 claim for false imprisonment against the Honorable Denise Collins, the presiding judge of
the 208th Judicial District Court of Harris County, who presided over criminal case number
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may scrutinize the basis of the complaint
and, if appropriate, dismiss the case without service of process if the lawsuit is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from
a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id.; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action is
frivolous if it lacks any arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989); Talib v. Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir. 1998). A complaint lacks an arguable basis
in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint alleges
violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist. Harris v. Hegmann, 198 F.3d 153, 156
(5th Cir. 1999).
Plaintiff’s claim against Judge Collins fails as a matter of law because judges are entitled
to absolute immunity from claims arising out of acts performed in the exercise of their judicial
functions. See Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967) (“Few doctrines were more solidly
established at common law than the immunity of judges from liability for damages for acts
committed within their judicial jurisdiction.”); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355 (1978);
Boyd v. Biggers 31 F.3d 279, 284 (5th Cir. 1995); see also Bauer v. Texas, 341 F.3d 352, 357
(5th Cir. 2003) (“Judges enjoy absolute immunity from liability for judicial or adjudicatory
acts.”). The doctrine of absolute judicial immunity protects judges not only from liability, but
also from suit. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 10 (1991). Allegations of bad faith do not
overcome judicial immunity, id., and neither do allegations of procedural errors. See Mitchell v.
McBryde, 944 F.2d 229, 230 (5th Cir. 1991). Judicial immunity is overcome only when the
complained-of acts were not taken in the judge’s judicial capacity, or when they were taken in
the complete absence of all jurisdiction. Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11–12.
Plaintiff generally alleges that Judge Collins falsely imprisoned him because his case was
eventually dismissed. There is no indication that Judge Collins acted outside of her jurisdiction;
all of the allegations concern judicial acts taken in her official capacity. Id. Accordingly, Judge
Collins is entitled to judicial immunity, and Plaintiff’s claims against her must be dismissed.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Based on the foregoing, the Court ORDERS that plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED
with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
This dismissal constitutes a “strike” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The Clerk
of Court shall send a copy of this dismissal by email to the Clerk of the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, 515 Rusk Street,
Houston, Texas, 77002, Attention: Three-Strikes List Manager, at
The Clerk of Court will provide a copy of this Order to all the parties of record.
SIGNED at Houston, Texas, this 19th day of April, 2017.
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?