United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
who is currently housed at Jenkins Correctional Center in
Millen, Georgia, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 contesting certain events which allegedly
occurred in Richmond County, Georgia. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff also
filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons set forth below, the
Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion. For
these same reasons, I RECOMMEND the Court
DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint based on
his failure to state a claim, DIRECT the
Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter
the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and
DENY Plaintiff in forma pauperis
status on appeal.
Complaint, Plaintiff contends Defendant Kenneth Boose, an
investigator with Richmond County, Georgia, arrested him in
1994. Plaintiff asserts Defendant William Sussman, a public
defender, visited him at the Richmond County Jail. Plaintiff
contends Defendant Danny Craig, who is with the District
Attorney's Office, came to the jail almost a year later
to offer Plaintiff a plea bargain. (Doc. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff
alleges he agreed to the plea bargain in November 1995 in
front of Defendant Carlisle Overstreet, a Superior Court
judge, because Plaintiff was faced with capital punishment if
he did not enter into a plea deal. Plaintiff seeks immediate
release from his false imprisonment and the monetary
“equivalent amount of the bonds that were sold
as” to him. (Id. at p. 6.)
seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the
filing of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment of fees if
the plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement
of all of his assets, shows an inability to pay the filing
fee, and also includes a statement of the nature of the
action which shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if
the plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must dismiss the
action if it is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a complaint in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity.
Upon such screening, the Court must dismiss a complaint, or
any portion thereof, that is frivolous, malicious, or fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or which
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
Court looks to the instructions for pleading contained in the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when reviewing a Complaint
on an application to proceed in forma pauperis.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (“A pleading that states
a claim for relief must contain [among other things] . . . a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10
(requiring that claims be set forth in numbered paragraphs,
each limited to a single set of circumstances). Further, a
claim is frivolous under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if
it is ‘without arguable merit either in law or
fact.'” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528,
531 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Bilal v. Driver, 251
F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001)).
a complaint fails to state a claim under Section
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). Under that standard, this 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A plaintiff must assert “more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not” suffice. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555. Section 1915 also “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.” Bilal, 251
F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 327 (1989)).
analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle
that the pleadings of unrepresented parties are held to a
less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and,
therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v.
Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006)
(“Pro se pleadings are held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys. . .
.”) (quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157,
1160 (11th Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff's
unrepresented status will not excuse mistakes regarding
procedural rules. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S.
106, 113 (1993) (“We have never suggested that
procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
Dismissal of Claims Pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey and
allegations contained in Plaintiff's Complaint center
around criminal proceedings in Richmond County, Georgia.
Plaintiff references the criminal proceedings against him in
1994 and 1995. However, there is nothing before the Court
indicating that his conviction has been reversed, expunged,
invalidated, called into question by a federal court's
issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, or otherwise overturned.
(Doc. 1.) Consequently, this Court is precluded from
reviewing his claims by the decision in Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
Heck, a state prisoner filed a Section 1983 damages
action against the prosecutors and investigator in his
criminal case for their actions which resulted in his
conviction. The United States Supreme Court analogized the
plaintiff's claim to a common-law cause of action for
malicious prosecution, which requires as an element of the
claim that the prior criminal proceeding be terminated in
favor of the accused. 512 U.S. at 484. The Supreme Court
We think the hoary principle that civil tort actions are not
appropriate vehicles for challenging the validity of
outstanding criminal judgments applies to § 1983 damages
actions that necessarily require the plaintiff to prove the
unlawfulness of his conviction or confinement, just as it had
always applied to actions for malicious prosecution (footnote
We hold that, in order to recover damages for allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other
harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a
conviction or sentence invalid, (footnote omitted), a
§ 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or
sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by
executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such determination, or called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A claim for
damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence
that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under
§ 1983. Thus, when a state prisoner seeks damages in a
§ 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a
judgment in favor of the plaintiff would ...