Young v. Crane et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 1 Complaint filed by Raymond C. Young, 5 Motion for Injunction Relief filed by Raymond C. Young. Signed by Judge Andrew W. Austin. (td)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
RAYMOND C. YOUNG #1547972
DAVID CRANE, MARGARET MOORE,
AND SALLY HERNANDEZ
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE HONORABLE SAM SPARKS
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 Magistrate Judges.
Before the Court are Plaintiff’s complaint and “Motion Seeking Injunction Relief.” 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
the Travis County Correctional Complex. Plaintiff alleges he filed a state application for writ of
habeas corpus in the 331st Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas. Plaintiff complains
Judge David Crane never responded to the application. He further complains the Travis County
District Attorney’s Office, managed by District Attorney Margaret Moore, “shuffled around” his
application but never forwarded it to the Court of Criminal Appeals. He further complains Travis
County Sheriff Sally Hernandez has held him in continued custody while violating his rights to due
process. Plaintiff requests the Court to order the defendants to make the “mandated payments as is
required by law for ignoring a properly filed writ.” Plaintiff seeks $50 per day for each day he was
In addition to his original complaint, Plaintiff has filed a “Motion Seeking Injunction Relief.”
Plaintiff indicates his action derives from Article 11.35 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
but notes his due process rights have also been violated. Plaintiff further states he is alleging a
violation of the Federal Torts Claim Act, because the defendants are guilty of intentionally inflicting
emotional distress, abusing due process, and falsely imprisoning him. Other than monetary relief,
Plaintiff does not specify the injunctive relief he seeks.
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).
Disobeying the Writ
Plaintiff contends the defendants have “disobeyed the writ” in violation of state law.
Article 11.34 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides:
When service has been made upon a person charged with the illegal custody of
another, if he refuses to obey the writ and make the return required by law, or, if he
refuses to receive the writ, or conceals himself, the court or judge issuing the writ
shall issue a warrant directed to any officer or other suitable person wiling to execute
the same, commanding him to arrest the person charged with the illegal custody or
detention of another, and bring him before such court or judge. When such person
has been arrested and brought before the court or judge, if he still refuses to return
the writ, or does not produce the person in his custody, he shall be committed to jail
and remain there until he is willing to obey the writ of habeas corpus, and until he
pays all the costs of the proceeding.
Article 11.35 provides for a further penalty for disobeying the writ. That article provides:
Any person disobeying the writ of habeas corpus shall also be liable to a civil action
at the suit of the party detained, and shall pay in such suit fifty dollars for each day
of illegal detention and restraint, after service of the writ. It shall be deemed that a
person has disobeyed the writ who detains a prisoner a longer time than three days
after service thereof, unless where further time is allowed in the writ for making the
Plaintiff seeks $50 per day for his alleged illegal detention pursuant to Article 11.35. However,
Plaintiff misunderstands the law. Although Plaintiff has filed an application for a writ in state court,
no court has issued a writ of habeas corpus. Rather, Plaintiff’s application is currently pending.
Therefore, no writ has been disobeyed.
Federal Tort Claims Act
In his “Motion Seeking Injunction Relief” Plaintiff alleges his complaint is also based on the
Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). Plaintiff once again misunderstands the law.
The FTCA is a limited waiver of the United States’s sovereign immunity allowing “civil
actions for damages against the United States for personal injury or death caused by the negligence
of a government employee under circumstances in which a private person would be liable under the
law of the state in which the negligent act or omission occurred.” Hannah v. United States, 523 F.3d
597, 601 (5th Cir. 2008). Under the FTCA, “[a]n action shall not be instituted upon a claim against
the United States . . . unless the claimant shall have first presented the claim to the appropriate
Federal agency and his claim shall have been finally denied by the agency in writing.” 28 U.S.C. §
2675(a). Plaintiff has not named the United States of America as a defendant. The defendants he
does name are not proper defendants under the FTCA.
Plaintiff’s claims against Travis County Judge David Crane alleging a constitutional violation
are barred by judicial immunity. It is well settled law that a judge enjoys absolute immunity from
liability for damages for judicial acts performed within his 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 Crane that
were nonjudicial in nature nor does he show that he was acting in the clear absence of all
jurisdiction. Accordingly, Judge Crane is protected by absolute immunity.
Plaintiff’s claims against District Attorney Moore alleging a constitutional violation are
barred by prosecutorial immunity. Prosecutors are absolutely immune from liability under the
federal civil rights statutes with regard to actions taken by them within the course and scope of
representing the governmental agencies and subdivisions in judicial proceedings. Under the doctrine
of prosecutorial immunity, a prosecutor is absolutely immune in a civil rights lawsuit for any action
taken in connection with a judicial proceeding. Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993);
Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 487-92 (1991); Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 427-31 (1976).
“[A]cts undertaken by the prosecutor in preparing for the initiation of judicial proceedings or for
trial, and which occur in the course of his role as an advocate for the State, are entitled to the
protection of absolute immunity.” Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 285 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Buckley v. Fitzsimmons 509 U.S. at 273). Prosecutorial immunity applies to the prosecutor’s
actions in initiating the prosecution and in carrying the case through the judicial process. Boyd, 31
F.3d at 285; Graves v. Hampton, 1 F.3d 315, 318 (5th Cir. 1993). Thus, a prosecutor is immune
from civil rights liability for actions taken in connection with a judicial proceeding, even if taken
maliciously. Brummett v. Camble, 946 F.2d 1178, 1181 (5th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 504 U.S. 965
(1992); Rykers v. Alford, 832 F.2d 895, 897 (5th Cir. 1987).
The Court recognizes that not all prosecutorial functions are protected. In Imbler, the Court
declared that absolute immunity applied to a prosecutor’s actions in “initiating a prosecution and in
presenting the State’s case.” Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431. This immunity protected the alleged knowing
use of false testimony at trial and the alleged deliberate suppression of exculpatory evidence. In
Imbler, the Court left open the issue of whether absolute immunity applied to administrative or
investigative acts. However, in Burns, the Court answered that question, stating that absolute
immunity does not apply to investigative or administrative acts performed by prosecutors. Burns,
500 U.S. at 493.
In the case at hand, Plaintiff challenges actions or inactions taken by the prosecuting attorney
during Plaintiff’s criminal proceedings which are clearly protected by prosecutorial immunity. In
this action Plaintiff does not allege any actions taken by the defendant that were outside the course
and scope of representing the District Attorney’s Office in Plaintiff’s criminal proceedings.
Therefore, District Attorney Moore is protected by absolute immunity.
Heck v. Humphrey
Plaintiff’s remaining claims seeking monetary damages for his alleged illegal confinement
must be dismissed pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) and the Fifth
Circuit’s application of Heck to state prisoner § 1983 lawsuits in Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279 (5th
Cir. 1994). In Heck, the Supreme Court held:
[I]n order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or
imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render
a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or
sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared
invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into
question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
In this case Plaintiff does not allege that his imprisonment has been reversed, expunged, invalidated,
or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of writ of habeas corpus. Plaintiff’s recitation
of the procedural history in this case indicates just the opposite.
Plaintiff does not make clear whether he is seeking his immediate release in addition to
monetary damages. To the extent Plaintiff seeks his immediate release, he must seek such relief in
an application for habeas corpus relief. The exclusive remedy for a prisoner who challenges the fact
or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release is habeas corpus relief.
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 488-490 (1973). The Court should decline to construe this
action as a request for habeas corpus relief, because Plaintiff admittedly has not exhausted his state
It is therefore recommended that Plaintiff’s complaint be dismissed with prejudice as
frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and his Motion for Injunction Relief 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 keeper
of the three-strikes list.
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).
SIGNED this 16th day of August, 2017.
ANDREW W. AUSTIN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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