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Blocker v. Craig

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

March 19, 2019

MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER BLOCKER and BENITA C. BLOCKER, P.O.A, Plaintiffs,
v.
DANIEL J. CRAIG; REBECCA “ASHLEY” WRIGHT; JAMES G. BLANCHARD, JR.; HUGH MORRIS HADDEN; TANYA JEFFORDS; and ALEXIA DAVIS, Defendants.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EPPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Michael Christopher Blocker, an inmate at Ware State Prison in Waycross, Georgia, and Plaintiff Benita C. Blocker are proceeding pro se in this case filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding events alleged to have occurred in Augusta, Georgia. They have paid the $400.00 filing fee. 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. THE COMPLAINT IS SUBJECT TO SCREENING UNDER § 1915A

         28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) states, “The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” Mr. Blocker is currently incarcerated in Ware State Prison. (Doc. no. 1, p. 3.) As discussed below, Plaintiffs seek relief against Defendants as officers or employees of governmental entities for their roles in his 2008 trial. (See generally doc. no. 1.) Thus, based on the plain language of § 1915A(a), the complaint is subject to screening because Plaintiffs, one of whom is a prisoner, seek redress from officers and employees of a governmental entity therein.

         Furthermore, although she is listed as a separate Plaintiff, the parties apparently intend Ms. Blocker to represent Mr. Blocker in this lawsuit because Ms. Blocker mailed the filing from her residence, (id. at 2, 15), there are no facts related to Ms. Blocker in the complaint, (id. at 5-12), and she is designated as having power of attorney, (id. at 1-2, 13-14). However, there is no indication Ms. Blocker is an attorney, and a non-attorney may not represent another party in federal court.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1654, “In all courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases personally or by counsel as, by the rules of such courts, respectively, are permitted to manage and conduct causes therein.” “The existence of a power of attorney does not authorize a nonlawyer to undertake to conduct legal proceedings on behalf of a pro se litigant where the law otherwise requires that such proceedings be conducted by a licensed attorney.” Stewart v. Moses, No. 7:14-CV-34 HL, 2014 WL 2986730, at *1 (M.D. Ga. July 2, 2014). Under Georgia law, a person granted a power of attorney who is not a lawyer may not represent other parties as such would be the unauthorized practice of law. See O.C.G.A § 15-19-51(a); Toenniges v. Steed, 739 S.E.2d 94, 95 (Ga.Ct.App. 2013). Thus, Ms. Blocker may not represent Mr. Blocker in this lawsuit.

         Finally, to the extent Ms. Blocker seeks to bring the claims set forth in the complaint on behalf of Mr. Blocker as his representative, the complaint would still be subject to screening because of the nature of the claim. See In re Prison Litigation Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997) (“District courts are requires to screen all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of whether the inmate . . . is represented by counsel . . . .”) Thus, Ms. Blocker's presence in this lawsuit does not alter the fundamental character of the claims set forth therein, and, thus, screening pursuant to § 1915A is appropriate.

         II. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT

         A. BACKGROUND

         In the complaint, Plaintiffs name the following Defendants: (1) Daniel J. Craig; (2) Rebecca “Ashley” Wright; (3) Judge James G. Blanchard, Jr.; (4) Hugh Morris Hadden; (5) Tanya Jeffords; and (6) Alexia Davis. (See doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 3-5.) Taking all of Plaintiffs' factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         Mr. Craig, who was serving as District Attorney, obtained a grand jury indictment against Mr. Blocker without a DNA expert to confirm Mr. Blocker's DNA and despite reasonable doubt as to Mr. Blocker's guilt. (Id. at 6-7.) Ms. Wright, who was serving as an Assistant District Attorney, “interrupted due process and stole fair trial by jury on third day of trial.” (Id. at 6.) Defendants Hadden, Jeffords, and Davis are criminal defense attorneys appointed to represent Mr. Blocker. (Id.) They “office interrupted due process and stole fair trial by jury” by convincing Mr. Blocker to sign a plea agreement, under which Mr. Blocker would only plead guilty to burglary, on the third day of trial. (Id. at 6-7.) However, the plea agreement was fake. (Id. at 7.) Judge Blanchard sentenced Mr. Blocker to “life plus two twenties” under the recidivism statute even though Mr. Blocker did not agree to the sentence and is innocent of the three charges forming the basis of his qualification under the recidivism statute. (Id. at 7.) Mr. Blocker informed Judge Blanchard he was under the influence of medication prior to sentencing. (Id.) Mr. Blocker waited in jail an entire year for a trial by jury, but his fair trial and due process were taken from him. (Id.) As a result, Mr. Blocker suffered depression, court costs, overmedication, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of: (1) all personal property; (2) employment; (3) both parents' funerals; and (4) time spent with his family and raising his son. (Id. at 7.)

         Plaintiffs seek as relief: (1) release from incarceration; (2) a trial by jury; (3) expungement of all criminal charges; (4) reimbursement of all court fees; and (5) $6 million dollars in restitution. (Id.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. Legal ...


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