United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge.
Miles Lancaster (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se,
brings this civil action alleging constitutional violations.
Plaintiff is detained in the Spartanburg County Detention
Center, and he files this action in forma pauperis
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Complaint is subject to
alleges he is detained in the Spartanburg County Detention
Center, and several state drug charges are pending against
him. [Doc. 1.] The following specific facts are alleged. On
April 11, 2016, and April 15, 2016, Defendant James Ruane
(“Ruane”), a narcotics officer with the
Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office, contacted Plaintiff
pretending to be a drug dealer, convinced Plaintiff to ride
around together for more than four hours while Plaintiff
tried to find Ruane drugs, and made two controlled buys
directly hand-to-hand from Plaintiff. [Id.] Ruane
knowingly used false representations to convince Plaintiff he
would not get into trouble; Ruane used entrapment in order to
get Plaintiff to sell him drugs. [Id.] Plaintiff was
not under federal investigation, and Ruane committed an
“unmirandized arrest” on Plaintiff.
[Id.] As a result of the incidents with Ruane, Ruane
arrested Plaintiff on five different state drug charges on
April 20, 2016. [Id.] By his actions, Ruane violated
Plaintiff's constitutional rights and placed
Plaintiff's life and his family's lives in danger.
relief, Plaintiff requests that the five pending drug charges
be dismissed by the state, and he requests damages.
[Id.] Further, Plaintiff asks to have his state jury
trial on these charges delayed until this federal Court makes
a ruling on this case; and a bond on these charges until the
federal court makes a ruling. [Id.]
about January 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion “for
fast and speedy trial, and to halt my state prosecution
charges until the District Court makes their ruling in this
case.” [Doc. 9.] Plaintiff alleges that he has been
detained since May 12, 2016, and he was unlawfully arrested.
[Id.] He does not “want the state to have a
chance for a wrongful conviction on entrapment
Court takes judicial notice from the Spartanburg County
on-line court records that Plaintiff was arrested on April
20, 2016, for distribution of meth, trafficking in meth or
cocaine base, unlawful carrying of pistol, distribute drugs
near a school, and trafficking in meth. See
Spartanburg County Seventh Judicial Circuit Public Index,
Plaintiff's name, and 2016A4210101077, 2016A4210101490,
2016A4210201354, 2016A4210201358, 2016A4210201359) (last
visited Jan. 31, 2017); see also Philips v. Pitt Cnty.
Mem. Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009) (courts
“may properly take judicial notice of matters of public
record.”); Colonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil, 887
F.2d 1236, 1239 (4th Cir. 1989) (“We note that
‘the most frequent use of judicial notice is in
noticing the content of court records.'”). And, in
each of those pending criminal cases, the state records
indicate that Plaintiff was indicted on September 30, 2016.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B), and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) DSC, the undersigned is authorized
to review the Complaint for relief and submit findings and
recommendations to the District Court. Plaintiff filed this
action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in forma
pauperis statute. This statute authorizes the District
Court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action
“fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,
” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or
“seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Further, Plaintiff is a prisoner under the
definition in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), and “seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Thus, even if Plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee, this
Court is charged with screening Plaintiff's lawsuit to
identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the Complaint if (1)
it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted or (2) seeks monetary relief from
a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
pro se litigant, Plaintiff's pleadings are accorded
liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard
than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).
However, even under this less stringent standard, the pro se
pleading remains subject to summary dismissal. The mandated
liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that
if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a
valid claim on which Plaintiff could prevail, it should do
so, but a district court may not rewrite a petition to
include claims that were never presented, Barnett v.
Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999), or
construct Plaintiff's legal arguments for him, Small
v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or
“conjure up questions never squarely presented”
to the court, Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d
1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). The requirement of liberal
construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a
claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir.
Complaint is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
“‘is not itself a source of substantive rights,
' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating
federal rights elsewhere conferred.'” Albright
v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker
v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). A civil
action under § 1983 allows “a party who has been
deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to
seek relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes
at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). To state a
claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two
essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and
(2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person
acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
extent Plaintiff brings a claim based on the Fourth Amendment
alleging false arrest, he fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted. The constitutional right to be free
from unreasonable searches and seizures is well settled.
Merchant v. Bauer, 677 F.3d 656, 662 (4th Cir.
2012). To state a claim for false arrest, a plaintiff must
demonstrate that he was arrested without probable cause.
Sowers v. City of Charlotte, 659 F. App'x 738
(4th Cir. 2016). Nevertheless, because Plaintiff was indicted
on the five state drug charges about which he complains in
this case, his allegation of false arrest fails. A grand jury
indictment is affirmative evidence of probable cause
sufficient to defeat claims for malicious prosecution and
false arrest under § 1983. See Durham v.
Horner, 690 F.3d 183, 189 (4th Cir. 2012) (an
indictment, fair upon its face, returned by a properly
constituted grand jury conclusively determines the existence
of probable cause); cf. Swick v. Wilde, 529 F.
App'x 353 (4th Cir. 2013) (explaining about the effect of
deliberately supplying misleading information that influenced
a decision); see also Provet v. South Carolina,
Civil Action No. 6:07-1094-GRA-WMC, 2007 WL 1847849, at *5
(D.S.C. June 25, 2007) (§1983 claims of false arrest and
malicious prosecution were precluded because of indictment).
Therefore, Plaintiff fails to allege a plausible claim for
false arrest, and this action should be dismissed.
this case is subject to the Younger abstention
doctrine. From a review of the Complaint and the motion to
halt state prosecution, the crux of the matter is that
Plaintiff seeks a ruling by this federal Court on the Fourth
Amendment issues in his state court case and seeks to halt
the state prosecution until this Court rules. Plaintiff does
not want the state court to wrongfully convict him based on a
wrongful application of the Fourth Amendment. Thus, Plaintiff
invites this Court to interfere with the state court criminal
proceedings. However, because a federal court may not ...