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McRoberts v. Karpf

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

February 22, 2017

JOSEPH MAKTIN McROBERTS, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL KARPF, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         Proceeding pro se, inmate-plaintiff Joseph Martin McRoberts brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the state court judge from whom he unsuccessfully tried to obtain various forms of judicial relief (law-library access, the discharge of his appointed criminal defense attorney, etc.). Doc. 1 at 5. He seeks $26, 000 for "emotional distress I suffered during the time I was incarcerated and violation of my rights." Id. at 6. Plus he wants the judge reprimanded and suspended for one year. Id.

         Upon preliminary review, [1] his Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice. Chatham County Superior Court Chief Judge Michael L. Karpf is absolutely immune from suit, since McRoberts alleges nothing beyond activities that fall within his official function. See Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d 1234, 1239 (11th Cir. 2000) ("Judges are entitled to absolute immunity for all actions taken in their judicial capacity. . . .") (citing Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978)); see also Id. ("Absolute judicial immunity applies even when the judge's acts are in error, malicious, or were in excess of his or her jurisdiction.") (quotes omitted).

         Given its facial frivolity, plaintiffs Complaint must be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE and no re-pleading option is warranted. Dysart v. BankTrust, 516 F.App'x 861, 865 (11th Cir. 2013) ("[D]istrict court did not err in denying Dysart's request to amend her complaint because an amendment would have been futile."); Langlois v. Traveler's Ins. Co., 401 F.App'x 425, 426-27 (11th Cir. 2010); Simmons v. Edmondson, 225 F.App'x 787, 788-89 (11th Cir. 2007) (district court did not err in dismissing complaint with prejudice without first giving plaintiff leave to amend because no amendment could have overcome the defendants' immunity).[2] Also because of its frivolity, this case should be recorded as a "strike" under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).[3] Finally, the Court DENIES as frivolous McRoberts' motion for entry of default. Doc. 6.

         McRoberts, meanwhile, must pay his $350 filing fee. His furnished account information shows that he has had a $0.00 average monthly balance and $0.00 in monthly deposits in his prison account during the past six months. Doc. 4. He therefore owes no initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) (requiring an initial fee assessment "when funds exist, " under a specific 20 percent formula). But plaintiffs custodian (or designee) shall set aside 20 percent of all future deposits from his account and forward same to the Clerk each time the set aside amount reaches $10.00, until the balance of the Court's $350.00 filing fee has been paid in full.

         The Clerk is DIRECTED to send this Report and R ecommendation (R&R) to McRoberts' account custodian immediately. In the event he is transferred to another institution, plaintiffs present custodian shall forward a copy of this Order and all financial information concerning payment of the filing fee and costs in this case to plaintiffs new custodian. The balance due from the plaintiff shall be collected by the custodian at his next institution in accordance with the terms of this Order.

         This R&R is submitted to the district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's Local Rule 72.3. Within 14 days of service, any party may file written objections to this R&R with the Court and serve a copy on all parties. The document should be captioned "Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendations." Any request for additional time to file objections should be filed with the Clerk for consideration by the assigned district judge.

         After the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this R&R together with any objections to the assigned district judge. The district judge will review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that failure to timely file objections will result in the waiver of rights on appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v. V.A. Leasing Corp., 648 F.App'x 787, 790 (11th Cir. 2016); Mitchell v. U.S., 612 F.App'x 542, 545 (11th Cir. 2015).

         SO REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED.

---------

Notes:

[1] McRoberts proceeds in forma pauperis (IFP) (doc. 4), so the Court is screening his case under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) to determine whether he has stated a plausible claim for relief. See also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (courts must identify "cognizable claims" filed by prisoners or other detainees and dismiss claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or seek monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief). Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Thompson v. Rundle, 393 F.App'x 675, 678 (11th Cir. 2010).

Thus, the Court must determine whether the Complaint contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Ml. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Section 1915 "accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1833, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989); Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001); Daker v. Bryson, 2017 WL 242615 at * 3 (S.D. Ga. Jan. 19, 2017).

[2] Despite the lack of any apparent basis for viable amendment, plaintiffs opportunity to object to this Report and Recommendation within 14 days of service affords him an opportunity to resuscitate his case. He may also submit an Amended Complaint during that period, if he believes it would cure the legal defects discussed above. See Willis v. Darden, 2012 WL 170163 at * 2 n. 3 (S.D. Ga. Jan. 19, 2012) (citing Smith v. Stanley, 2011 WL 1114503 at * 1 (W.D. Mich. Jan. 19, 2011)).

[3] Plaintiffs are generally required to pay a filing fee in order to institute a civil action in a federal district court. 28 U.S.C. § 1914. Indigent prisoners may avoid prepayment of the filing fee under 28 U.S.C. ...


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