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Johnson v. Grantham

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

October 4, 2017

SPENCER JOHNSON SR., Inmate 1523215 Plaintiff,
v.
AMANDA GRANTHAM, Senior Attorney, Public Defender's Office, SARINA WOODS, Supervising Attorney, GA. PUBLIC DEFENDER COUNCIL, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DIJFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand's Final Report and Recommendation [9] (“Final R&R”) recommending that this action be dismissed for failure to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Also before the Court are Plaintiff's Motions to Appoint Counsel [3, 11] and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint [12].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 28, 2017, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint [7] (“Am. Compl.”), [1] asserting various constitutional claims, including claims for ineffective assistance of counsel against his appointed public defender, Amanda Grantham, her supervisor, Sarina Woods, and the Georgia Public Defender Council (“GPDC”).

         On August 28, 2017, the Magistrate Judge screened Plaintiff's Complaint and issued his Final R&R, recommending that the action be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. No objections to the Final R&R were filed. On September 13, 2017, Plaintiff moved for a second time to appoint counsel [11] (“Second Motion to Appoint”) and for leave to file a second amended complaint[2] [12] (“Motion to Amend”).

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Frivolity Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         A federal court must screen “a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss the complaint if it is “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or if it “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous, and must be dismissed, where it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008).

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint pro se. “A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nevertheless, a pro se plaintiff must comply with the threshold requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Beckwith v. Bellsouth Telecomms. Inc., 146 F. App'x 368, 371 (11th Cir. 2005). “Even though a pro se complaint should be construed liberally, a pro se complaint still must state a claim upon which the Court can grant relief.” Grigsby v. Thomas, 506 F.Supp.2d 26, 28 (D.D.C. 2007). “[A] district court does not have license to rewrite a deficient pleading.” Osahar v. U.S. Postal Serv., 297 F. App'x 863, 864 (11th Cir. 2008).

         B. Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

         After conducting a careful and complete review of the findings and recommendations, a district judge may accept, reject, or modify a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732 (11th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1112 (1983). A district judge “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). With respect to those findings and recommendations to which objections have not been asserted, the Court must conduct a plain error review of the record. United States v. Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1050 (1984). Plaintiff did not file objections to the Final R&R, and the Court thus reviews it for plain error.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's § 1983 Claims

         Plaintiff asserts § 1983 claims against Defendant Amanda Grantham (“Grantham”), his appointed public defender, based on her alleged ineffective representation of him in his state criminal case. (Am. Compl. at 5-7). Plaintiff asserts Grantham failed to obtain necessary and relevant evidence, did not file a motion for a speedy trial, and did not seek a bond reduction hearing. (Id.). Plaintiff also appears to seek to hold Grantham's supervisor, Defendant Sarina Woods, and the ...


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