Patton v. Judge of 299th District Court
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION: that Plaintiff's civil rights claims brought against Judge Sage be dismissed with prejudice as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). It is further recommended that Plaintiff's habeas corpus claims be dis missed without prejudice to filing an application for habeas corpus relief after he has exhausted his state court remedies. To the extent the Court dismisses the request for habeas corpus relief, a certificate of appealability should be denied. Signed by Judge Andrew W. Austin. (kkc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
RONALD PATTON #1438891
JUDGE OF THE 299TH
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The Magistrate Judge submits this Report and Recommendation to the District Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(f) of Appendix C of the Local Court Rules of the United
States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties
to United States Magistrates, as amended, effective December 1, 2002.
Before the Court is Plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has been granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
At the time he filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff was confined in the
Travis County Correctional Complex. Plaintiff complains Karen Sage, the Judge of the 299th
Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas denied him a speedy trial. Plaintiff additionally
complains of the lack of assistance he has received from his court appointed attorney. Plaintiff
explains a witness willing to testify on Plaintiff’s behalf moved from the area and is no longer able
to testify. Plaintiff sues the Judge of the 299th Judicial District Court. He seeks a declaratory
judgment in addition to compensatory and punitive damages.
DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
Standard Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
An in forma pauperis proceeding may be dismissed sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
if the court determines the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from suit. A dismissal
for frivolousness or maliciousness may occur at any time, before or after service of process and
before or after the defendant’s answer. Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1116, 1119 (5th Cir. 1986).
When reviewing a plaintiff’s complaint, the court must construe plaintiff’s allegations as
liberally as possible. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). However, the petitioner’s pro se status
does not offer him “an impenetrable shield, for one acting pro se has no license to harass others, clog
the judicial machinery with meritless litigation and abuse already overloaded court dockets.”
Farguson v. MBank Houston, N.A., 808 F.2d 358, 359 (5th Cir. 1986).
Judge Sage is entitled to absolute immunity for any acts performed as a judge. It is well
settled law that a judge enjoys absolute immunity from liability for damages for judicial acts
performed within her jurisdiction. Hale v. Harney, 786 F.2d 688, 690 (5th Cir. 1986). The doctrine
of absolute judicial immunity protects judges not only from liability, but also from suit. Mireless
v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991). Motive of the judicial officer is irrelevant when considering
absolute immunity. See Mitchell v. McBryde, 944 F.2d 229, 230 (5th Cir. 1991) (“The judge is
absolutely immune for all judicial acts not performed in clear absence of all jurisdiction, however
erroneous the act and however evil the motive.”).
Absolute judicial immunity is overcome in only two rather narrow sets of circumstances:
first, a judge is not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the
judge’s judicial capacity, and second, a judge is not immune for actions, though judicial in nature,
taken in complete absence of all jurisdiction. Mireless, 502 U.S. at 11-12. “A judge’s acts are
judicial in nature if they are ‘normally performed by a judge’ and the parties affected ‘dealt with the
judge in his judicial capacity.’” Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 285 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Mireless, 502 U.S. at 12). In the case at bar, Plaintiff does not complain of any actions taken by
Judge Sage that were nonjudicial in nature nor does he show that she was acting in the clear absence
of all jurisdiction. Accordingly, Judge Sage is protected by absolute immunity.
To the extent Plaintiff challenges the denial of a speedy trial or the effectiveness of counsel
and seeks habeas corpus relief, he must seek such relief in an application for habeas corpus relief
after he has exhausted his state court remedies. Plaintiff makes no allegations suggesting he has
exhausted his state court remedies.
It is therefore recommended that Plaintiff’s civil rights claims brought against Judge Sage
be dismissed with prejudice as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). It is further recommended
that Plaintiff’s habeas corpus claims be dismissed without prejudice to filing an application for
habeas corpus relief after he has exhausted his state court remedies. To the extent the Court
dismisses the request for habeas corpus relief, a certificate of appealability should be denied.
It is further recommended that the Court include within its judgment a provision expressly
and specifically warning Plaintiff that filing or pursuing any further frivolous lawsuits may result
in (a) the imposition of court costs pursuant to Section 1915(f); (b) the imposition of significant
monetary sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11; (c) the imposition of an order barring Plaintiff
from filing any lawsuits in this Court without first obtaining the permission from a District Judge
of this Court or a Circuit Judge of the Fifth Circuit; or (d) the imposition of an order imposing some
combination of these sanctions.
It is further recommended that Plaintiff be warned that if Plaintiff files more than three
actions or appeals while he is a prisoner which are dismissed as frivolous or malicious or for failure
to state a claim on which relief may be granted, then he will be prohibited from bringing any other
actions in forma pauperis unless he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. See 28 U.S.C.
In the event this Report and Recommendation is accepted, adopted or approved, it is
recommended that the Court direct the Clerk to e-mail a copy of its order and judgment to the Pro
Se Clerk for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Within 14 days after receipt of the magistrate judge’s report, any party may serve and file
written objections to the findings and recommendations of the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636
(b)(1)(C). Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations contained
within this report within 14 days after service shall bar an aggrieved party from de novo review by
the district court of the proposed findings and recommendations and from appellate review of factual
findings accepted or adopted by the district court except on grounds of plain error or manifest
injustice. Douglass v. United Servs. Auto. Assoc., 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir. 1996)(en banc); Thomas
v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 148 (1985); Rodriguez v. Bowen, 857 F.2d 275, 276-277 (5th Cir. 1988).
To the extent that a party has not been served by the Clerk with this Report and
Recommendation electronically, pursuant to the CM/ECF procedures of this District, the Clerk is
ORDERED to mail such party a copy of this Report and Recommendation by certified mail, return
SIGNED this 19th day of December, 2014.
ANDREW W. AUSTIN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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