United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
GORDON BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
is a non-prisoner litigant, who is proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis. Pursuant to the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)
(D.S.C.), the United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to
review the case initially and to submit findings and
recommendations to the United States District Judge. After
careful review, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the
Complaint (DE# 1) be summarily
dismissed, with prejudice, and without issuance
and service of process, for the following reasons:
The Present Lawsuit
filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendant Patricia Grant, the Colleton County Clerk of Court.
The allegations of Plaintiff's Complaint are very
minimal. In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges (verbatim) that:
Patricia Grant acting in her official capacity as Colleton
County Clerk of Court, exceeded her jurisdiction by not
properly filing Plaintiff's legal documents, more
specifically, the Plaintiff's (PCR) Post Conviction
Relief. Defendants (sic) actions resulted in Plaintiff
sustaining injuries, effecting (sic) quality of life.
(DE# 1, ¶ III, “Statement of the Claim”).
Although Plaintiff complains about the filing of PCR
documents, a state records check reflects that Plaintiff is
not an inmate at this time. For relief, Plaintiff demands
monetary damages “in the amount of $500, 000.00 plus
interest and cost[s].” (DE# 1 at 9, ¶¶ III
Standard of Review
established local procedure in this judicial district, the
Magistrate Judge has carefully reviewed this pro se
prisoner complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and in
light of the following precedents: Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976); Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519 (1972); and Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147 (4th Cir. 1978).
pro se Plaintiff is proceeding in forma
pauperis, and thus, 28 U.S.C. § 1915 applies to
this case. Such statute permits an indigent litigant to
commence an action in federal court without prepaying the
administrative costs of proceeding with the action. To
protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the
statute allows the court to dismiss the case upon finding
that the case is “frivolous or malicious, ”
“fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,
” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant
who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2)(B). A finding of frivolity can be made where
the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A
claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed
sua sponte “at any time” under 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2)(B). Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 319. The
statute “is designed largely to discourage the filing
of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon,
baseless lawsuits.” Id. at 326. The Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) also provides for
the screening of complaints “in which a prisoner seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
se pleadings are given liberal construction and are held
to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007); Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th
Cir. 2014). However, “[t]he ‘special judicial
solicitude' with which a district court should view ...
pro se filings does not transform the court into an
advocate. United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797
(4th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 2401
(2013). Only those questions which are squarely presented to
a court may properly be addressed.” Weller v. Dept.
of Soc. Servs., City of Baltimore, 901 F.2d 387, 391
(4th Cir. 1990). Giving “liberal construction”
does not mean that the Court can ignore a prisoner's
clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable
claim. “Principles requiring generous construction of
pro se complaints ... [do] not require ... courts to
conjure up questions never squarely presented to them.”
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986).
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
appears to indicate that she is suing the Defendant Clerk of
Court in her official capacity. (DE# 1 at 6, ¶ III,
referring to “Patricia Grant acting in her official
capacity as Colleton County Clerk of Court”). To the
extent Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages from a state
official in official capacity, the Defendant is immune from
such relief under the Eleventh Amendment of the United States
Constitution. Sovereign immunity protects the State itself,
as well as its agencies, divisions, departments, officials,
and other “arms of the State.” Will v.
Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71
(1989) (explaining that a suit against a state official in
his official capacity is “no different from a suit
against the State itself”); see also, e.g., Cromer
v. Brown, 88 F.3d 1315, 1332 (4th Cir. 1996); Ransom
v. Lawrence, Case No. 6:12-3141-JFA-KFM, 2013 WL
4523588, *4 (D.S.C. Aug. 26, 2013); Jones v. SCDC,
Case No. 5:12-cv-03554-RBH-KDW, 2013 WL 3880175, *4 (D.S.C.
July 26, 2013). Based on sovereign immunity, the Defendant
sued in her official capacity should be dismissed as a party.
Quasi-Judicial Immunity ...