United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violation of his
constitutional rights in the state court when his probation
was revoked based on failure to pay probation fees. ECF No.
1. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02 (B)(2)(d), D.S.C., the matter was referred to
United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett for pre-trial
proceedings. On March 6, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a
Report recommending this matter be summarily dismissed
without prejudice, and without issuance and service of
process. ECF No. 8. The Magistrate Judge advised Plaintiff of
the procedures and requirements for filing objections to the
Report and the serious consequences if he failed to do so.
Plaintiff filed objections on March 15, 2018. ECF No. 10.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976).
The court is charged with making a de novo determination of
any portion of the Report of the Magistrate Judge to which a
specific objection is made. The court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation made by the
Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
considering de novo the record, the applicable law,
the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, and
Plaintiff's objections, the court agrees with the
Report's recommendation that the Complaint be dismissed.
Plaintiff's objections, he cites Rankin v.
Howard, 633 F.2d 844 (9th Cir. 1980), for the
proposition that judicial immunity is not absolute. ECF No.
10. While Plaintiff next cites Ashelman v. Pope, 793
F.2d 1072 (9th Cir. 1986), noting Rankin was
described as “unnecessarily restrictive, ” he
also states “Rankin's ultimate result was not
changed.” ECF No. 10 at 2. However, Ashelman
held “[a]s long as the judge's ultimate acts are
judicial actions taken within the court's subject matter
jurisdiction, immunity applies.” 793 F.2d at 1078. That
court explicitly held “[t]o the extent that
Rankin and Beard are to the contrary, they
are overruled.” Id.
argues revocation of his probation was unlawful, leading to
multiple violations of his constitutional rights. He also
argues Judge Dennis acted without jurisdiction; thus, the
complained of action was not a “judicial act.”
ECF No. 10 at 5-8 (“Judge . . .steped [sic] completely
out of the jurisdiction of the court and committed a criminal
act when he unlawfuley [sic] revoked my probation and
unlawfuley [sic] put me in prison by braking [sic] the
Supreme Court has held judicial immunity overcome only when a
judge undertakes a nonjudicial action (i.e., actions not
taken in the judge's judicial capacity), or when judicial
actions are “taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction.” Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,
11-12 (1991). It is clear the actions alleged in this case
were judicial actions, as Plaintiff was before Judge Dennis
for a criminal probation revocation. Further, it is clear
that Plaintiff Judge Dennis' actions were not
“taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction.” Even if the judge erred in revoking
Plaintiff's probation for failure to pay fees without a
finding the failure was willful, immunity still applies.
Id. at 12-13; see also Pierson v. Ray, 386
U.S. 547, 554 (1967) (“Immunity applies even when the
judge is accused of acting maliciously and
corruptly.”). Just because Plaintiff alleges Judge
Dennis revoked his probation improperly, contrary to law,
does not mean Judge Dennis did not have subject matter
jurisdiction. This objection is overruled.
next argues he brought suit against Judge Dennis in his
individual capacity and thus he is not immune from personal
liability under the Eleventh Amendment. ECF No. 10 at 8.
“Personal-capacity suits seek to impose personal
liability upon a government official for actions he takes
under color of state law. Official-capacity suits, in
contrast, generally represent only another way of pleading an
action against an entity of which an officer is an
agent.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
165-66 (1985). It is true Plaintiff brought his suit against
Judge Dennis in his individual capacity, and as such
Defendant is not shielded by Eleventh Amendment immunity.
However, judicial immunity still applies. This objection is
the court adopts the Report by reference in this Order.
Plaintiff's Complaint is hereby dismissed without
prejudice and without issuance and service of process.