United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. Rogers, III United States Magistrate Judge.
a civil action filed by a pretrial detainee, proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis. Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and District of South Carolina
Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e), the undersigned is
authorized to review all pretrial matters in such pro
se cases and to submit findings and recommendations to
the district court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
established local procedure in this judicial district, a
careful review has been made of the pro se complaint
filed in this case. This review has been conducted pursuant
to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915,
1915A, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, and in
light of the following precedents: Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md.
House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir.1995) (en banc);
Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir.1983).
Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915,
which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in
federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of
proceeding with the lawsuit. To protect against possible
abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court
to dismiss the case upon a finding 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). A finding of frivolousness can be made where
the complaint “lacks an arguable basis either in law or
in fact.” Denton, 504 U.S. at 31. Hence, under
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), a claim based on a meritless legal
theory may be dismissed sua sponte. See
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.
court is required to liberally construe pro se
complaints. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). Such pro se complaints are held to a less
stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.
Id.; Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151
(4th Cir. 1978). Even under this less stringent standard,
however, the pro se complaint is 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 complaint to include claims that were
never presented, construct the plaintiff's legal
arguments for him, or conjure up questions never squarely
presented to the court. Beaudett v. City of Hampton,
775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985); Small v.
Endicott, 998 F.2d 411 (7th Cir. 1993); Barnett v.
Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128 (10th Cir. 1999). 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 currently cognizable in a federal district
court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d
387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990) (The “special judicial
solicitude” with which a [court] should view such pro
se complaints does not transform the court into an
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff fails to allege what federal constitutional right
or statutory right underlies his § 1983 claim. At the
time of the incident, Plaintiff was a current pretrial
detainee due to pending charges for second degree
assault/battery, with arrest date in July 2017 with bond set
and an indictment filed. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Dickers, an alleged employee at the detention center, lied as
to what happened during an incident on November 15, 2017.
Plaintiff was asking for tissue paper from Dickers and an
incident ensued when Plaintiff was grabbing the roll from
Dickers. Dickers alleged Plaintiff hit Dickers. Public
records show that Plaintiff was arrested in
Richland County on December 1, 2017, for the charge of third
degree assault/battery by officer Ronald Truluck. Bond was
set on the same date. Plaintiff alleges this charge to be as
a result of his incident with Dickers. Plaintiff wishes to
sue Dickers because she “lied” in the incident
report and the charges resulted. Plaintiff alleges as
injuries that the lie by Dickers caused him pain and
suffering, triggering stress and loss of sleep.
1983 “ 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) (internal quotation and citation
omitted). A legal 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).
§ 1983, a plaintiff must establish 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 color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988). A § 1983 plaintiff must show that he
suffered a specific injury resulting from a specific
defendant's specific conduct and must show an affirmative
link between the injury and that conduct. See Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S.159, 166 (1985); Rizzo v. Good,
423 U.S. 362, 371-72 (1976).
pretrial detainee's § 1983 actions are evaluated
under the Fourteenth Amendment. Bell v. Wolfish, 441
U.S. 520, 535, 537 n.16 (1979); Martin v. Gentile,
849 F.2d 863, 870 (4th Cir. 1988). Plaintiff's
rights under the Fourteenth Amendment are at least as great
as Eighth Amendment protections available to prisoners.
Martin, 849 F.2d at 870.
has failed to allege a cognizable claim of constitutional
magnitude under § 1983. Under longstanding South
Carolina case law, contents of governmental records-such as
judicial proceedings, case reports, published cases,
investigative reports, or arrest records-do not give rise to
liability for slander or libel. See Heyward v.
Cuthbert, 15 S.C.L. (4 McCord) 354, 356-59 (1827); and
Padgett v. Sun News, 278 S.C. 26, 292 S.E.2d 30,
32-33 (1982). Even assuming that the defendant made a false
report resulting in criminal charges, any violations of state
procedural law do not implicate federal due process rights
and are not cognizable under § 1983. See Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). Moreover, any
defamation liberally construed to be alleged is not
actionable because Plaintiff fails to allege a violation of a
federally protected right. See Siegert v.
Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 233, (1991)(“Defamation, by
itself, is a tort actionable under the laws of most states,
but not a constitutional deprivation.”); Paul v.
Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 712 (1976)(finding that “any
harm or injury to [Plaintiff's interest in his
reputation], even where as here inflicted by an officer of
the State, does not result in a deprivation of any
‘liberty' or ‘property' recognized by
state or federal law”). Thus, it appears that if
Plaintiff is alleging a defamation claim, it would be one
under state law and this court cannot consider it under its
supplemental jurisdiction because Plaintiff has failed to
state any other claim for which relief can be granted over
which this court has original jurisdiction. Accordingly,
Plaintiff's Complaint should be summarily dismissed
because he has failed to state a claim upon which relief can
extent under a liberal construction that Plaintiff is
attempting to state a claim for malicious prosecution,
Plaintiff's attempted claim would fail under
Heck. To state a malicious prosecution claim,
Plaintiff must show at least, that “defendant[s] have
seized [plaintiff] pursuant to legal process that was not
supported by probable cause and that the criminal proceedings
[have] terminated in [plaintiff's] favor.”
Burrell v. Virginia, 395 F.3d 508, 514 (4th Cir.
2005)(internal citations and quotations omitted). The U.S.
Supreme Court provided in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994) that until a conviction was set aside or charges
finally dismissed without the possibility of revival, a
§ 1983 claim could not be pursued based on allegations
of unlawful circumstances surrounding the criminal
prosecution. See also Brooks v. City of Winston-Salem,
N.C. , 85 F.3d 178 (4th Cir. 1996). Under the favorable
termination rule, the charges must be terminated “for
reasons indicative of the innocence;” courts have held
that an unexplained nolle prosequi or disposal of
charges for reasons other than innocence do not satisfy the
Heck “favorable termination”
requirement. Restatement(Second) of Torts § 660 (1977);
see also Tucker v. Duncan, 499 F.2d 963, 965 (4th
Cir. 1974); Wilkins v. DeReyes, 528 F.3d 790, 802-03
(10th Cir. 2008); Washington v. Summerville, 127
F.3d 552, 558-59 (7th Cir. 1997); Posr v. Court Officer
Shield # 207, 180 F.3d 409, 418 (2nd Cir. 1999);
Jackson v. Gable, 2006 WL 1487047, at *6 (D.S.C. May
25, 2006); Nicholas v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 33
Fed.Appx. 61, 64-65 (4th Cir.. 2002). While Wallace
held that Heck no longer bars claims of false arrest
by pretrial detainees, Heck is still applicable to
claims of malicious prosecution. Wallace, 549 U.S.
at 387 n.1, 390 n.2. Plaintiff has not shown that the charges
connected to his allegations have been favorably terminated
in accordance with the above law. As such, any construed
claim for malicious prosecution must be dismissed.
this case is subject to the Younger abstention
doctrine. The crux of the matter from the Complaint is that
Plaintiff alleges he has been falsely accused in a pending
state criminal matter. Thus, Plaintiff invites this Court to
interfere with the state court criminal proceedings. However,
because a federal court may not award injunctive relief that
would affect pending ...