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Diego v. Burleson

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Athens Division

September 29, 2017

ALISSA DIEGO, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE ALLISON BURLESON, in her official capacity as judge; EIGHTH JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA, OCMULGEE CIRCUIT; DEBORAH JACKSON, in her official capacity as Clerk of Superior Court; JEAN G. MANGAN, in her official capacity as assistant district attorney; SHERIFF DONNIE HARRISON, in his official capacity as Greene County Sheriff; GREENE COUNTY GOV'T; and BRETT COLBERT, in his official capacity as chief probation officer, Judicial Alternatives of Georgia Defendants.

          ORDER

          CLAY D. LAND CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Alissa Diego, who is proceeding pro se, alleges that she was wrongfully prosecuted for and convicted of criminal trespass, subjected to unreasonable probation conditions, and made to serve her probation sentence after she appealed it. She also alleges that her appeal was blocked and that Defendants conspired to have her probation revoked. She brought this action seeking an injunction, compensatory damages, and punitive damages against a superior court judge and various other officials. She also asserts claims against the Eighth Judicial Administrative District of Georgia and Greene County. There are three motions to dismiss pending before the Court. Diego did not respond to any of these motions. As discussed in more detail below, Diego's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, so the three motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 15, 18 & 25) are granted.

         MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

         “To survive a motion to dismiss” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The complaint must include sufficient factual allegations “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In other words, the factual allegations must “raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of” the plaintiff's claims. Id. at 556. “Rule 12(b)(6) does not permit dismissal of a well-pleaded complaint simply because ‘it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.'” Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         Diego challenges “violations of her constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable seizures, double jeopardy, imprisonment without due process, and imprisonment for debt, intimidation, humiliation, emotional distress and mental distress.” Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.

         Diego's Complaint is not long on details, but she appears to allege that she was a defendant in a criminal proceeding before Judge Alison Burleson in the Superior Court of Greene County, Georgia. Diego asserts that unnamed Greene County deputies harassed her when she appeared at the Greene County courthouse. Judge Burleson found Diego guilty of criminal trespass. Diego disagrees with that finding, but she did not allege any specific facts to demonstrate that Judge Burleson erred in finding her guilty.

         After announcing the conviction, Judge Burleson went into a conference room with Sheriff Donnie Harrison and a court reporter before pronouncing the sentence: “12 months of probation under the first offender statute.” Id. ¶ 5(c). That sentence included a number of conditions, including “banishment from Greene County” and drug and alcohol testing. Id. ¶ 5(d).

         Diego filed an appeal in the Georgia Court of Appeals on April 13, 2017. She asserts that her appeal “acts as a supersedeas” but that probation officer Brett Colbert, acting pursuant to Judge Burleson's orders, required Diego to begin her probation sentence regardless of the appeal. Id. ¶ 5(e).

         Diego filed a motion for “Injunction of Sentencing Pending Appeal, ” and Judge Burleson set a hearing but required that Diego continue serving her probation sentence pending a ruling on that motion. Id. ¶ 5(g). Diego appeared at 10:30 a.m. on the day of the hearing (there is no allegation on what time the hearing was supposed to be, but the Complaint implies that Diego was late despite her best efforts). Diego was told that the motion would not be heard and that she needed to refile it. Id. ¶ 5(h).

         Diego alleges that the clerk of the Greene County Superior Court did not send the appeal to the Court of Appeals. Diego further contends that “Judge Burleson, with the aid of the Chief clerk Ms. Jackson, had been purposely blocking [Diego's] appeal.” Id. ¶ 5(i).

         At some point, Colbert filed a petition for revocation of Diego's probation. Diego asserts that there was a “conspiracy to make false allegations . . . to have [Diego's] probation revoked” and that Colbert lied in his petition for revocation of Diego's probation. Id. ¶ 5(j). The revocation hearing was scheduled for May 15, 2017; Diego filed this action that day. In filing this action, Diego anticipated that her probation would be revoked and that she would be sent to jail.

         Diego asserts claims under the “Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments” to the U.S. Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. ¶ 3. She also asserts various state law claims, including claims under the Georgia constitution and claims for “conspiracy and malicious prosecution.” Id. She seeks compensatory damages and an “injunction requiring the Defendants to respect the laws state and federal constitutions and laws ...


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