United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Christopher L. Ray, United States Magistrate Judge.
pro se and in forma pauperis, Edward Eugene
Davis, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against
various state officials, a municipal entity, and a private
citizen involved in his arrest and prosecution. Doc. 1. The Court
granted his request to pursue his case in forma
pauperis (IFP), doc. 4, and he returned the necessary
forms. Docs. 5 & 6. The Court now screens the Complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the
immediate dismissal of any pro se complaint that
fails to state at least one actionable claim.
Chief Bandy “instigated a criminal presentment”
against Davis by calling 911 “to report an alleged
violent crime.” Doc. 1 at 6. Davis contends Bandy was
racially motivated, as he relied upon a “false
report” by an “intoxicated white woman”
over Davis' objections. Id. at 7. Based on that
“false report, ” Davis was arrested by Det. Brown
for “[a]ggravated assault by strangulation” of
Branch, his then-girlfriend. Id. at 7-8. He contends
he was arrested without probable cause and Det. Brown
perjured herself at his preliminary hearing. Id. at
8. He has been railroaded by the prosecution and deficiently
represented by his public defender. Id. at 12-13.
For this, Davis seeks an apology and $8.5 million in
compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 15. His
state prosecution, meanwhile, remains pending. See State
v. Davis, CR17-1058-J2 (Chatham Super. Ct.) (status
“open” as of March 13, 2019, with a jury trial on
charges of aggravated assault and rape set to begin
April 8, 2019).
waves at claims for false arrest or malicious prosecution. A
claim for false arrest derives from the constitutional right
to be free from “unreasonable searches and
seizures.” U.S. Const. Amend. IV. A warrantless arrest
made without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment and
forms the basis of a § 1983 claim for damages.
Ortega v. Christian, 85 F.3d 1521, 1525 (11th Cir.
1996); Max v. Gumbinner, 905 F.2d 1503, 1505 (11th
Cir. 1990); Von Stein v. Bresher, 904 F.2d. 572, 578
(11th Cir. 1990). In a case of continuing detention (as
here), however, “false imprisonment ends once the
victim becomes held pursuant to [legal] process - when, for
example, he is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on
charges.” Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384,
389-90 (2009); see Davis, CR17-1057.
arrestee's unlawful detention becomes a product of legal
process, his continued custody may still be unlawful, but any
damages suffered after that point must be recovered under the
“entirely distinct” tort of malicious
prosecution, “which remedies detention accompanied not
by the absence of legal process, but by wrongful
institution of legal process.” Id. at
390. In other words, the torts of malicious prosecution and
false imprisonment are distinct, and the former supplants the
latter after legal process is initiated.
Eleventh Circuit “has identified malicious prosecution
as a violation of the Fourth Amendment and a viable
constitutional tort cognizable under § 1983.”
Wood v. Kesler, 323 F.3d 872, 881 (11th Cir. 2003).
An essential element of a malicious prosecution claim,
however, is the termination of the criminal prosecution in
the plaintiff's favor. Id. at 882. In the case
at bar, there is no allegation that the Chatham County
criminal case has been resolved in Davis' favor.
See doc. 1; see Davis, CR17-1058.
Accordingly, he does not state a claim for malicious
prosecution and any such claim against any of the named
defendants should be DISMISSED. Even if he
had pled (or could plead) favorable termination, several of
the named defendants are immune from or otherwise not
susceptible to suit under § 1983.
also complains that he has been “defamed” by
Bandy's report and Det. Brown's arrest. Doc. 1 at 6.
Any defamation claims against the arresting police officers
under § 1983, however, fail as a matter of law. Paul
v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 711-12 (1976); Walker v.
Atlanta Police Dep't Public Affairs Unit, 322
Fed.Appx. 809, 810 (11th Cir. 2009) (“defamation by a
police officer is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. §
1983”); Lowe v. Dollison, 2012 WL 1555446 at *
3 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 2, 2012) (“defamation, libel, and
slander are matters for state law and not the proper subject
of a Section 1983 lawsuit.”), cited in Young v.
Heap, 2016 WL 4987331 at *1 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 8, 2016).
Although defamation falls outside § 1983's ambit,
district courts have “supplemental jurisdiction over
all claims that are so related to claims in the action within
[the court's] original jurisdiction that they form part
of the same case or controversy.” 28 U.S.C. §
1367(a). Nevertheless, when a court dismisses all
“claims over which it has original jurisdiction,
” like Davis' other § 1983 claims, it
“may decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction.” Id. at (c). To the extent that
the Court could hear his defamation claim under its
supplemental jurisdiction, it should decline to do so. This
claim too should be DISMISSED.
to the extent that Davis asks this Court to weigh in on the
sufficiency or credibility of the evidence against him,
see doc. 1 at 5-11, any ruling by this Court could
substantially interfere with the results reached in the state
court proceeding. See 31 Foster Children v. Bush,
329 F.3d 1255, 1276 (11th Cir. 2003) (noting the importance
of “whether the federal proceeding will interfere with
an ongoing state court proceeding” in determining
whether abstention is appropriate). Pursuant to Younger
v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 53 (1971), federal courts must
abstain from hearing claims that would interfere with pending
state criminal proceedings, provided that the party seeking
federal relief has an adequate remedy at law and has not
shown that he will suffer irreparable injury. Plaintiff,
obviously, remains free to allege the same constitutional
violations at issue here in his state criminal proceedings.
He thus cannot demonstrate the lack of an adequate remedy at
law nor irreparable injury. Younger. 401 U.S. at 47
(“Certain types of injury, in particular, the cost,
anxiety, and inconvenience of having to defend against a
single criminal prosecution, could not by themselves be
considered ‘irreparable' in the special legal sense
of that term.”). Thus, these are arguments for the
state court. See also Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477, 487 n. 8 (1994) (“[I]f a state criminal defendant
brings a federal civil-rights lawsuit during the pendency of
his criminal trial, appeal, or state habeas action,
abstention may be an appropriate response to the parallel
state-court proceedings.”). Any claim regarding the
evidence in his criminal proceedings must be
Davis' Complaint should be DISMISSED for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Meanwhile, it is time for plaintiff to pay
his filing fee. His PLRA paperwork reflects $0 in average
monthly deposits over the six month period prior to the date
of his Prison Account Statement. Doc. 5. 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).
Plaintiff's custodian (or designee) shall therefore set
aside 20 percent of all future deposits to his account, then
forward those funds 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.
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.
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 ...