United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
Terry D. Davis, Jr., #197349, Plaintiff,
The State; Alan Wilson; John W. McIntosh; Mary S. Williams; Lauren Maurice; J. William Weeks; and Aimee J. Zmroczek, in their official and individual capacities, Defendant.
F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge.
Davis, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, is an inmate incarcerated at Livesay
Correctional Institution of the South Carolina Department of
Corrections. Plaintiff filed this suit pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against the State of South Carolina, South
Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney
General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Attorney General Mary S.
Williams, prosecutor Lauren Maurice, prosecutor J. Williams
Week, and defense attorney Aimee J. Zmroczek (collectively
“Defendants”). In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2), D.S.C., the
case was referred to the Magistrate Judge.
Magistrate Judge assigned to this action prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and
opines that this Court should dismiss the complaint in this
case without prejudice and without issuance and service of
process pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (ECF No. 7). The
Report sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and
standards of law on this matter, and this Court incorporates
those facts and standards without a recitation.
was advised of his right to object to the Report, which was
entered on the docket on October 5, 2016. Plaintiff filed a
response to the Report on October 19, 2016. (ECF No. 11).
Thus, this matter is ripe for the Court's review.
court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report to which specific objections
are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge,
or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
However, a district court is only required to conduct a
de novo review of the specific portions of the
Magistrate Judge's Report to which an objection is made.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b);
Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. & Parole,
974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific
objections to portions of the Report of the Magistrate, this
Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198,
199 (4th Cir. 1983).
Plaintiff attempts to make five objections to the Report.
Although vague, all five statements can be construed as
definite enough to constitute objections. However, each
objection is without merit.
Plaintiff argues that the doctrine of sovereign immunity does
not preclude suit against a state official in his or her
official capacity when seeking injunctive relief. (ECF No. 11
p. 1). Although the Ex Parte Young exception to
sovereign immunity does allow suit against state officers for
injunctive relief, this exception is not applicable in the
instant situation. See Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123
(1908). Here, the Magistrate Judge used the doctrine of
sovereign immunity only when dismissing the State. (ECF No. 7
p. 3-4). Sovereign immunity was not applied to any individual
defendant and the claims against those defendants were
dismissed on other grounds. Therefore, this objection is
Plaintiff's second objection, he cites to Lee v.
State, 844 N.W.2d 668, 670 (Iowa 2014), in support of
his proposition that “state sovereign immunity does not
necessarily bar injunctive relief against a state official to
require compliance with federal law.” (ECF No. 11 p.
1). Again, Plaintiff's argument misses the mark. The
Magistrate Judge correctly applied the doctrine of sovereign
immunity to the State and the State alone. (ECF No. 7 p.
3-4). Therefore, any sovereign immunity exceptions are
inapplicable and Plaintiff's argument lacks merit.
third objection specifically responds to the assertion that
the “complaint provides no factual allegations to
demonstrate how Wilson, McIntosh, Williams, Maurice and Week
violated his constitutional rights.” (ECF No. 7 p. 4).
Plaintiff responds by stating that “[u]nder the federal
rules, the purpose of pleading is to facilitate a proper
decision on merits.” (ECF No. 11 p. 2) (errors in
original). This court agrees that a properly plead complaint
can facilitate a proper decision on the merits. However, the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that a complaint
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Here, Plaintiff's complaint, even
when liberally construed, is completely devoid of any factual
allegations that demonstrate a violation of constitutional
rights. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79.
Therefore, Plaintiff's objection is without merit.
fourth objection deals with the use of immunity afforded to
prosecutors for activities connected with judicial
proceeding. Plaintiff claims that a “state official who
violates federal law is stripped of his official or
representative character and is subject in his person to the
consequences of his individual conduct.” (ECF No. 11 p.
2). Despite Plaintiff's contention, it is well
established that prosecutors have absolute immunity for
activities in or connected with judicial proceedings
including criminal trial and pretrial hearings. See
Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259 (1993);
Dababnah v. Keller-Burnside, 208 F.3d 467 (4th Cir.
2000). Accordingly, Plaintiff's argument is without
fifth and final objection states that “[o]nce a lawyer
has under taken the representation of an accused, the duties
and obligations are the same whether the lawyer is privately
retained, appointed, or serving legal aid or defender
program.” (ECF No. 11 p. 2) (errors in original). This
assertion is in response to the dismissal of claims as to
Plaintiff's court-appointed defense counsel Zmroczek. The
claims against Zmroczek were dismissed because a criminal
defense attorney, whether retained or appointed, does not act
under color of state or federal law. See Polk Cnt'y
v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 317-24 nn. 8-9, 12-14 (1981).
Plaintiff's contentions do nothing to change the fact
that his claims are not cognizable under 28 U.S.C. §
1983 and therefore, his claim must fail.