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Thornton v. Benefield

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

July 28, 2014

GEORGETTE BENITA THORNTON, GDC #769078, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE DEBORAH C. BENEFIELD, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND OPINION

JULIE E. CARNES, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff is confined at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto, Georgia. Plaintiff, pro se, seeks forty-five million dollars in damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 from the trial and appellate judges who presided over her state criminal case and from the United States. (Pl.'s Compl. [1]; Pl.'s Resp. [6].) Plaintiff contends that defendants entered invalid and illegitimate judgments in her criminal case, resulting in her present confinement. (See Pl.'s Compl. [1, 1-1, 1-2].)

After plaintiff confirmed that she seeks only damages in this action, and not release from prison, Magistrate Judge Walker screened the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. (Final Report and Recommendation ("R&R") [9].) Judge Walker found that plaintiff's claims are barred by the principle set out in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and that the defendant judges are immune from the relief plaintiff seeks. ( Id. ) Judge Walker thus recommended that the case be dismissed and that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be denied as moot. ( Id. ) Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R. (Pl.'s Obj. [15].)

A district judge must conduct a careful and complete review of a magistrate judge's R&R. Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732, 732 (11th Cir. 1982). The district judge must "make a de novo determination of those portions of the [R&R] to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Those portions of the R&R for which there is no objection are reviewed only for clear error. See United States v. Woodard, 387 F.3d 1329, 1334 (11th Cir. 2004) ("District judges do not actually have to exercise de novo review of magistrate judges' decisions, however, unless an objection is made.").

Plaintiff does not dispute the conclusion in the R&R that her claims are barred by the principle set out in Heck and by absolute immunity. (Pl.'s Obj. [15].) She instead argues that this case should be held in abeyance pending the outcome of the habeas action she recently filed in this Court. ( Id. ); see Thornton v. Seabolt, No. 1:13-cv-3692-JEC-LTW (N.D.Ga. Nov. 5, 2013), Pet. at Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff contends that this action is "subordinate" to the habeas action and should be suspended. (Pl.'s Obj. [15] at 2-4.) Since plaintiff filed her objections, however, this Court has ruled on the habeas action filed by plaintiff in Case No. 1;13-cv-3692-JEC-LTW. On July 25, 2014, the Court dismissed that action. See Doc. Nos. 31 and 32.[1]

Accordingly, because plaintiff's claims in this action implicate the validity of her state judgment of conviction and because that judgment has not been invalidated, plaintiff's present § 1983 action cannot be entertained. Accordingly, plaintiff's Objections to the R&R [15] are OVERRULED. The Court ADOPTS the R&R [9] as the opinion of the Court. This action is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff's Motion for Partial or Full Summary Judgment [7] is DENIED AS MOOT.

SO ORDERED.


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