United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division
LAWSON, SENIOR JUDGE
Tyler Moncus brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim as well as
state law tort claims against Defendant Jennifer Dawn Hart
and other Defendants.(Doc. 1). Before the Court is Defendant
Hart's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 27). Defendant argues
that she has common law prosecutorial immunity as to
Plaintiff's federal action, and that the Eleventh
Amendment, the Georgia Constitution, and the Georgia Tort
Claims Act (“GTCA”) bar Plaintiff's state law
claims against her. Id. The Court finds that
Defendant is immune from Plaintiff's suit. Accordingly,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to
was arrested in Irwin County, Georgia on September 2, 2015
and subsequently indicted on two counts of aggravated
assault. (Compl. ¶¶ 20, 22). The Irwin County
Detention Center (“Detention Center”) detained
Plaintiff for eighteen days before his release on bail.
(Id. at ¶ 21). Defendant, in her role as Tifton
Circuit District Attorney, prosecuted the criminal charges
against Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 23).
Plaintiff's defense counsel, Thomas J. Pujadas, and
Defendant negotiated a plea agreement to resolve the charges.
(Id. at ¶ 25). In accordance with the plea
agreement, Plaintiff pled guilty to one count of aggravated
assault. (Id.). On August 28, 2017, the Superior
Court sentenced Plaintiff to ten days of incarceration
followed by five years of probation. (Id. at ¶
served the full ten days of his sentence of incarceration.
(Id. at ¶ 38). He alleges that he was entitled
to and denied credit for the eighteen days he spent in
pretrial detention. (Id. at ¶¶ 48-49);
see O.C.G.A. § 17-10-11 (“Each person
convicted of a crime in this state shall be given full credit
for each day spent in confinement awaiting trial.”).
According to Plaintiff, the eighteen days he spent in
pretrial detention nullified his subsequent ten-day sentence
(Compl. ¶¶ 48-49), and he should have been
“immediately released upon presentation to [Donnie
Youghn, ] the Irwin County Sheriff” at the Detention
Center. (Id. at ¶ 30). Instead, Plaintiff was
taken into custody. (Id. at ¶ 31). Mr. Pujadas
phoned Mr. Youghn to arrange for Plaintiff's release.
(Id. at ¶ 32). Plaintiff alleges that while Mr.
Pujadas was on the phone with Mr. Youghn, Mr. Pujadas
overhead a prison employee say Defendant ordered that
Plaintiff remain in custody. (Id. at ¶ 33).
Pujadas filed a writ of mandamus seeking Plaintiff's
immediate release. (Id. at ¶ 37). However, the
state court failed to conduct a hearing and rule on his
petition while Plaintiff spent ten days in the county jail.
(Id.). Plaintiff filed this suit on May 24, 2019,
alleging claims under § 1983 and Georgia tort law. (Doc.
1). Defendant filed her motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim on July 9, 2019. (Doc. 27).
MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must
accept the facts alleged in the plaintiff's complaint as
true and construe all reasonable inference in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Bryant v. Avado Brands,
Inc., 187 F.3d 1271, 1273 n.1 (11th Cir. 1999);
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To avoid dismissal,
“a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter . .
. to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Prosecutorial immunity may be
asserted as an affirmative defense pursuant to a Rule
12(b)(6) motion. Long v. Satz, 181 F.3d 1275, 1279
(11th Cir. 1999). The district court may dismiss a complaint
with prejudice if the defendant's motion demonstrates
that the complaint factually supports an immunity defense.
Section 1983 Claim
law grants prosecutors absolute immunity from § 1983
actions that stem from conduct “intimately associated
with the judicial phase of the criminal process.”
Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430 (1976). The
Court takes a “functional approach” to evaluate
the prosecutor's specific conduct and determine whether
it receives absolute or qualified immunity. Hart v.
Hodges, 587 F.3d 1288, 1294 (11th Cir. 2009). This
approach “looks to the nature of the function
performed, not to the identity of the person who performed
it.” Id. at 1294-95. Absolute immunity applies
to a prosecutor's actions undertaken as an advocate for
the State. Id. at 1295. Actions that serve a
prosecutor's investigative or administrative roles do not
receive absolute immunity. Van de Kamp v. Goldstein,
555 U.S. 335, 342 (2009). Acting as a complaining witness
also does not warrant absolute immunity. Kalina v.
Fletcher, 522 U.S. 118, 129-31 (1997). Prosecutors are
“entitled only to qualified immunity” when they
function as administrators, investigators, or complaining
witnesses rather than as advocates. Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993).
Supreme Court is clear that the prosecutor's function as
an advocate includes preparing to initiate a prosecution and
presenting the State's case in judicial proceedings.
Id. at 269-70 (quoting Imbler, 424 U.S. at
431 n.33). This function encompasses a wide range of
conduct-including illegal or unconstitutional actions-for
which prosecutors receive absolute immunity. Prosecutors have
absolute immunity when “filing an information without
investigation, filing charges without jurisdiction, filing a
baseless detainer, offering perjured testimony, suppressing
exculpatory evidence, refusing to investigate complaints
about the prison system, and threatening further criminal
prosecutions.” Hart, 587 F.3d at 1295 (quoting
Henzel v. Gerstein, 608 F.2d 654, 657 (5th Cir.
1979)); see Imbler, 424 U.S. at 437 (“[A]
prosecutor is absolutely immune from suit for malicious
clear is to what extent common law affords absolute immunity
for prosecutors' post-sentencing actions. The Supreme
Court has not spoken on the issue. The Eleventh Circuit has
indicated that absolute immunity “may extend to certain
post-sentencing conduct of a prosecutor.”
Hart, 587 F.3d at 1296. For example, prosecutors
receive absolute immunity for their advocacy before the
Parole Commission and in habeas corpus proceedings. See
Wright v. Pearson, 747 Fed.Appx. 812, 814 (11th Cir.
2018) (“[A]bsolute immunity extends to a
prosecutor's conduct during post-conviction
proceedings.”); Jenkins v. Walker, 620
Fed.Appx. 709, 711 (11th Cir. 2015) (“[A] prosecutor
has absolute immunity for presentation of evidence at
post-sentencing habeas corpus proceedings.”); Allen
v. Thompson, 815 F.2d 1433, 1434 (11th Cir. 1987)
(forwarding information to Parole Commission receives
absolute immunity because “[p]arole decisions are the
continuation of the sentencing process”). At issue in
this case is whether a prosecutor receives absolute immunity
for actions undertaken to enforce a state sentence, and more
specifically, whether absolute immunity applies when such
enforcement actions deny the defendant's credit for time
served in pretrial detention.
relies on Hart v. Hodges to support her Motion to
Dismiss. 587 F.3d 1288; see (Doc. 27-1, p. 4). She
argues that this opinion “made clear that a
prosecutor's role extends to conduct related to the
criminal defendant's sentence.” (Doc. 44, p. 2). In
Hart, the plaintiff was indicted on both federal and
state offenses. 587 F.3d at 1291. The plaintiff's lawyer
negotiated a plea agreement with the Assistant United States
Attorney and Defendant Hodges, the District Attorney assigned
to the plaintiff's state case. Id. The plaintiff
agreed to plead guilty in exchange for an agreement that he
would serve his state sentence concurrently with his federal
sentence, and the state sentence would be the same length as
the federal ...