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Miller v. Wilkes

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

January 11, 2018

TRACY ANTHONY MILLER, Petitioner,
v.
SCOTT WILKES; NATHAN DEAL; and SAM OLENS, Respondents.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EPPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

         Petitioner, an inmate at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in Grovetown, Georgia, ostensibly brings this action seeking mandamus relief. After prompting from the Clerk of Court, (doc. no. 2), Petitioner paid the filing fee.[1] Notwithstanding the payment of the filing fee, the case or any portion thereof may be dismissed 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 to such relief. See Leal v. Georgia Dep't of Corr., 254 F.3d 1276, 1277-78 (11th Cir. 2001) (per curiam); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         I. SCREENING

          A. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner names the following Respondents: (1) Scott Wilkes, former Warden at ASMP; (2) Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia; and (3) Sam Olens, former Attorney General for the State of Georgia. (See doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4.) Petitioner spends seventeen of the eighteen substantive pages of his petition for a writ of mandamus detailing alleged errors with his underlying state court murder conviction. His discussion includes various theories of self-defense, (id. at 3-5), alleged racial bias by the trial court judge and jury, (id. at 6-8), and alleged improper jury instructions and evidentiary rulings, (id. at 9-13, 18). Petitioner also alleges he has been denied parole in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) because his physical disability has somehow been improperly considered to support the decision to deny him parole. (Id. at 14-16.) For good measure, Petitioner also details alleged sexual misconduct and alleged retaliation by a prison guard who is not named as a respondent in his mandamus petition. (Id. at 17.)

         In a motion to supplement and request to amend his petition, Petitioner invokes Federal Rule of Procedure 60(b) and cites Supreme Court case law from 2017 in support of his continuing challenges to his underlying conviction. (See doc. no. 7.) Petitioner contends racial animus played an improper role in his conviction, he shot his victim in self-defense, and improper jury instructions were given at his trial. (See id.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. Legal Standard for Screening

         As set forth above, the case or any portion thereof may be dismissed 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 to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A.[2] A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 F. App'x 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '” or if it “tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the complaint must provide a “‘plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to ‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Finally, the Court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the Court has a duty to re-write the pleading. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

         2. Petitioner Fails to State a Valid Claim for Relief.

         (a) Mandamus

         The federal statute regarding writs of mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, provides such relief against only federal officers, employees, or agencies. Moreover, as Petitioner acknowledges, (doc. no. 1, p. 2), “[m]andamus jurisdiction is appropriate only where (1) the defendant owes a clear nondiscretionary duty to the plaintiff and (2) the plaintiff has exhausted all other avenues of relief.” Lifestar Ambulance Serv., Inc. v. United States, ...


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