Valdez v. Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER TO CURE DEFICIENT AMENDED COMPLAINT denying 14 Motion for Service of Process (Prisoner), and he must within thirty days cure the Amended complaint's deficiencies noted above. The Clerks Office sha ll mail plaintiff a copy of the Pro Se Litigant Guide. If Plaintiff fails to timely cure the above deficiencies according to this Order's instructions, this action will be dismissed without further notice. Signed by Judge Robert J. Shelby on 7/29/2015. (kpf)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
JOSEPH MIGUEL VALDEZ,
STATE OF UTAH et al.,
MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER
TO CURE DEFICIENT AMENDED
Case No. 2:14-CV-7 RJS
District Judge Robert J. Shelby
Plaintiff, Joseph Miguel Valdez, filed this pro se civil rights suit, see 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983
(2015), in forma pauperis, see 28 id. § 1915. The Court now screens the Amended Complaint
and orders Plaintiff to file a second amended complaint to cure deficiencies before further
pursuing his claims.
Deficiencies in Amended Complaint
alleges claims that are possibly invalidated by the rule in Heck (see below).
possibly alleges claims that concern the constitutionality of his conviction and/or validity
of his imprisonment, which should be brought in a habeas-corpus petition, not a civilrights complaint.
does not address Judge Hruby-Mills’s potential immunity from suit, as further explained
does not address Prosecutor Evershed’s potential immunity from suit, as further
does not state enough supporting factual information regarding any of his claims.
is not signed by Plaintiff.
names as a defendant the State of Utah without addressing the State’s immunity from
has claims appearing to be based on conditions of current confinement; however, the
complaint was apparently not submitted using the legal help Plaintiff is entitled to by his
institution under the Constitution. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 356 (1996)
(requiring prisoners be given "'adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from
persons trained in the law' . . . to ensure that inmates . . . have a reasonably adequate
opportunity to file nonfrivolous legal claims challenging their convictions or conditions
of confinement") (quoting Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977) (emphasis added)).
Instructions to Plaintiff
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint to contain "(1) a
short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . .; (2) a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the
relief sought." Rule 8's requirements mean to guarantee "that defendants enjoy fair notice of
what the claims against them are and the grounds upon which they rest." TV Commc'ns Network,
Inc. v ESPN, Inc., 767 F. Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991).
Pro se litigants are not excused from complying with these minimal pleading demands.
"This is so because a pro se plaintiff requires no special legal training to recount the facts
surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine
whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106,
1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Moreover, it is improper for the Court "to assume the role of advocate for
a pro se litigant." Id. Thus, the Court cannot "supply additional facts, [or] construct a legal
theory for plaintiff that assumes facts that have not been pleaded." Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d
1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989). Plaintiff should consider the following points before refiling his
complaint. First, the revised complaint must stand entirely on its own and shall not refer to, or
incorporate by reference, any portion of the original complaint. See Murray v. Archambo, 132
F.3d 609, 612 (10th Cir. 1998) (stating amended complaint supersedes original).
Second, the complaint must clearly state what each defendant--typically, a named
government employee--did to violate Plaintiff's civil rights. See Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d
1260, 1262-63 (10th Cir. 1976) (stating personal participation of each named defendant is
essential allegation in civil-rights action). "To state a claim, a complaint must 'make clear
exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom.'" Stone v. Albert, No. 08-2222, slip op. at 4
(10th Cir. July 20, 2009) (unpublished) (emphasis in original) (quoting Robbins v. Oklahoma,
519 F.3d 1242, 1250 (10th Cir. 2008)).
Third, Plaintiff cannot name an individual as a defendant based solely on his or her
supervisory position. See Mitchell v. Maynard, 80 F.2d 1433, 1441 (10th Cir. 1996) (stating
supervisory status alone does not support § 1983 liability).
Fourth, "denial of a grievance, by itself without any connection to the violation of
constitutional rights alleged by plaintiff, does not establish personal participation under § 1983."
Gallagher v. Shelton, No. 09-3113, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 25787, at *11 (10th Cir. Nov. 24,
Fifth, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's claims appear to involve some allegations that if
true may invalidate his conviction and/or sentencing. "In Heck, the Supreme Court explained
that a § 1983 action that would impugn the validity of a plaintiff's underlying conviction cannot
be maintained unless the conviction has been reversed on direct appeal or impaired by collateral
proceedings." Nichols v. Baer, No. 08-4158, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 4302, at *4 (10th Cir. Mar.
5, 2009) (unpublished) (citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994)). Heck prevents
litigants "from using a § 1983 action, with its more lenient pleading rules, to challenge their
conviction or sentence without complying with the more stringent exhaustion requirements for
habeas actions." Butler v. Compton, 482 F.3d 1277, 1279 (10th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).
Heck clarifies that "civil tort actions are not appropriate vehicles for challenging the validity of
outstanding criminal judgments." 512 U.S. at 486.
Plaintiff argues that Defendants violated his constitutional rights in a way that may attack
Petitioner's very imprisonment. Heck requires that, when a plaintiff requests damages in a §
1983 suit, this Court must decide whether judgment in the plaintiff's favor would unavoidably
imply that the conviction or sentence is invalid. Id. at 487. Here, it appears it would regarding
some claims. If this Court were to conclude that Plaintiff's constitutional rights regarding illegal
incarceration were violated in a prejudicial manner, it would be stating that Plaintiff's conviction
and/or sentence were not valid. Thus, the involved claims "must be dismissed unless the plaintiff
can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated." Id. This has not
happened and may result in dismissal of such claim.
Sixth, it is well settled that judges "are absolutely immune from suit unless they act in
'clear absence of all jurisdiction,' meaning that even erroneous or malicious acts are not proper
bases for § 1983 claims." Segler v. Felfam Ltd. P'ship, No. 08-1466, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS
10152, at *4 (10th Cir. May 11, 2009) (unpublished) (quoting Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349,
356-57 (1978)). Regarding the claims at issue here, Judge Hruby-Mills very well may have been
acting in a judicial capacity in presiding over this case, so the judge’s actions would be entitled
to absolute immunity. See Doran v. Sanchez, No. 08-2042, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 17987, at *2
(10th Cir. Aug. 19, 2008) (unpublished).
Finally, a prosecutor acting within the scope of his duties enjoys absolute immunity from
suit under § 1983. Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 424 (1976). The prosecutor’s acts, as
alleged by Plaintiff, appear to relate to advocacy before the court. This defendant therefore may
be entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity from this lawsuit.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
(1) Plaintiff’s motion for service of process is DENIED, (see Docket Entry # 14), and he
must within thirty days cure the Amended Complaint’s deficiencies noted above.
(2) The Clerk's Office shall mail Plaintiff a copy of the Pro Se Litigant Guide.
(3) If Plaintiff fails to timely cure the above deficiencies according to this Order's
instructions, this action will be dismissed without further notice.
DATED this 29th day of July, 2015.
BY THE COURT:
ROBERT J. SHELBY
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?