United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Roger Syndell Legette, #243366, a/k/a Roger Syndell Legette, Plaintiff,
Alan M. Wilson, Defendant.
F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge
OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional
rights. The plaintiff is an inmate in the South Carolina
Department of Corrections incarcerated at the Evans
Correctional Institution. Pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized
to review all pretrial matters in cases filed under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, and submit findings and recommendations to the
plaintiff alleges that he has been subjected to involuntary
servitude, malicious prosecution, false arrest, and false
imprisonment as a result of his conviction for murder in
Horry County, South Carolina (doc. 1-1 at 4-5, 18). He
contends that the statute was misapplied and that the
defendant did not act in good faith (id. at 6-7). He
further contends that the defendant engaged in a conspiracy
(id. at 7). The plaintiff asserts that he was denied
equal protection and his right to Due Process (id.
at 7, 17). The plaintiff also possibly attacks the
sufficiency of the indictment (id. at 4). A review
of the public index reveals that the plaintiff was sentenced
to life imprisonment for murder on August 5, 1997.
See Greenville County Fifteenth Judicial Circuit
(enter the plaintiff's name and CAW199612007) (last
visited Nov. 13, 2017); see also Philips v. Pitt Cty.
Mem. Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009) (courts
“may properly take judicial notice of matters of public
record.”). He seeks $2, 382, 720, 000, 000.00 in
damages (id. at 21).
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). As a pro se litigant, the
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 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under
this less stringent standard, the pro se pleading
remains subject to summary dismissal. 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 (4th
initial matter, this action is subject to dismissal because
it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See Title 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
In South Carolina, the South Carolina Attorney General is the
chief prosecuting officer of the State of South Carolina.
See S.C. Code Ann., SC Const. art. V, § 24
(1995). The South Carolina Attorney General and the South
Carolina Assistant Attorney Generals have absolute immunity
from personal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because
they are entitled to prosecutorial immunity for activities
intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal
process. See, e.g., Williams v. Condon, 553 S.E.2d
496 (S.C. App. 2001); Garrett v. McMaster,
7:07-2952-HFF-WMC, 2008 WL 3411673 (D.S.C. Aug. 11, 2008)
(finding that the Attorney General and a former Assistant
Attorney General had prosecutorial immunity for conduct
related to presenting the State's case). Cf. Van
de Kamp v. Goldstein, 129 S.Ct. 855 (2009)
(noting that prosecutors have absolute immunity from §
1983 actions unless the conduct involves administrative
duties such as workplace hiring, payroll administration, or
the maintenance of physical facilities). Therefore, the
defendants have absolute immunity from this suit. See
Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985) (absolute
immunity “is an immunity from suit rather than a mere
defense to liability”).
a defendant cannot be liable under § 1983 merely because
they are a supervisor or manager. The doctrines of vicarious
liability and respondeat superior are not applicable in
§ 1983 actions. See Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d
926, 927-29 (4th Cir. 1977); see also Polk Cty. v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981).
the plaintiff's claims for damages for constitutional
violations, false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious
prosecution are subject to dismissal pursuant to the Supreme
Court's ruling in Heck v. Humphrey, which held
that in order to recover damages for imprisonment in
violation of the United States Constitution, the imprisonment
must first be successfully challenged. 512 U.S. 477, 490
(1994); see Edwards v. Balisock, 520 U.S. 641,
647-48 (1997) (holding that the preclusive rule of
Heck extended to § 1983 claims challenging
procedural deficiencies that necessarily imply the invalidity
of the judgment). The Supreme Court held that
“to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, .
. . a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or
sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by
executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such a determination, or called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A claim for damages
bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that
has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under §
Id., 512 U.S. at 486-87.
the plaintiff is attempting to attack the validity of his
conviction; however, he has not shown that his conviction has
been overturned or otherwise impugned. “Because the
grant of a new trial does not trigger the limitations period
for a malicious prosecution claim, the statute of limitations
on [the plaintiff's] § 1983 claims [do] not begin to
run on the date he [is] granted a new trial.” Owens
v. Baltimore City State's Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d
379, 390 (4th Cir. 2014); see also Brooks v. City of
Winston-Salem, 85 F.3d 178, 183 (4th Cir.1996)
(Heck bars § 1983 claims for false arrest that
“necessarily would implicate the validity of the
plaintiff's conviction or sentence”). Here, a
favorable determination on the merits of the plaintiff's
§ 1983 claims would require a finding that his detention
is invalid; accordingly, his claims are barred under
Heck and subject to summary dismissal.
respect to any state law claims raised in the complaint,
including failure to act in good faith, the District Court
should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
plaintiff's state law causes of action because the
complaint's federal claims are recommended for summary
dismissal. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); see
also Tigrett v. Rector and Visitors of the Univ. of Va.,
290 F.3d 620, 626 (4th ...