United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.
Bernard Scott, a state pretrial detainee proceeding pro se,
filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
the above-captioned Defendants. See ECF No. 1. The
matter is before the Court for consideration of
Plaintiff's objections to the Report and Recommendation
(“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge
Thomas E. Rogers, III, who recommends summarily dismissing
this action without prejudice. See ECF Nos. 8 & 10.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. 72(b).
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
brings this § 1983 action against Defendants Freddie
Davis (a police officer employed by the Darlington County
Sheriff's Office) and Toney Chavis (the Darlington County
Sheriff) challenging the validity of his arrest for two
counts of grand larceny and one count of petit larceny.
See ECF No. 1. Plaintiff attaches copies of the
arrest warrants to his complaint, see ECF No. 1-1 at
pp. 12-14, and he seeks monetary damages as well as
declaratory and injunctive relief. See ECF No. 1 at
pp. 9-10. The Magistrate Judge has construed Plaintiff's
allegations as separate claims for false arrest and malicious
prosecution. See R & R [ECF No. 8] at p. 3. The
Magistrate Judge recommends summarily dismissing this action
because: (1) based on his submissions, Plaintiff was arrested
pursuant to facially valid warrants, and therefore his false
arrest claim fails; (2) he has not shown the criminal
proceedings have terminated in his favor, and therefore his
malicious prosecution claim fails; (3)
Younger abstention applies to his request for
injunctive relief; and (4) he cannot obtain release from
custody in a § 1983 action. R & R at pp. 3-6.
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's
recommendations. See Pl.'s Objs. [ECF No. 10].
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's
interpretation of his claims. See Pl.'s Objs. at
pp. 3-6. However, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge
that the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint are
correctly understood as § 1983 claims for false arrest
and malicious prosecution because Plaintiff alleges that
neither his arrest nor the warrants were supported by
probable cause. See Smith v. Munday, 848 F.3d 248,
257 (4th Cir. 2017) (“A claim for false arrest alleges
that a warrantless arrest lacked probable cause; a claim for
malicious prosecution alleges that an arrest made pursuant to
a warrant lacked probable cause.” (citing Brooks v.
City of Winston-Salem, N.C. , 85 F.3d 178, 181-82 (4th
Cir. 1996))). Of course, these claims are in essence Fourth
Amendment claims for unlawful seizure. See Lambert v.
Williams, 223 F.3d 257, 260-63 (4th Cir. 2000)
(explaining claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution
brought under § 1983 are “grounded in the Fourth
Amendment” and incorporate elements of the analogous
common law torts (citing Brooks, 85 F.3d 178,
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion
regarding his malicious prosecution claim. See
Pl.'s Objs. at p. 6; R & R at pp. 3-4. Plaintiff
cites Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 754-55
(2004), and Powers v. Hamilton County Public Defender
Commission, 501 F.3d 592, 603-05 (6th Cir. 2007), but
neither decision is relevant to his case. Muhammad
held the favorable termination requirement of Heck v.
Humphrey does not categorically apply in all suits
challenging prison disciplinary proceedings (which are not at
issue here), see 540 U.S. at 754-55, while
Powers held that Heck's
favorable-termination cannot be imposed when a § 1983
plaintiff's criminal proceedings have ended and he is
ineligible for habeas relief. 501 F.3d at 603-05. In any
event, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that
Plaintiff fails to state a § 1983 malicious prosecution
claim because he has not shown the criminal proceedings have
terminated in his favor. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 484
(“One element that must be alleged and proved in a
malicious prosecution action is termination of the prior
criminal proceeding in favor of the accused.”);
Evans v. Chalmers, 703 F.3d 636, 647 (4th Cir. 2012)
(“A malicious prosecution claim under § 1983 is
properly understood as a Fourth Amendment claim for
unreasonable seizure which incorporates certain elements of
the common law tort. To state such a claim, a plaintiff must
allege that the defendant (1) caused (2) a seizure of the
plaintiff pursuant to legal process unsupported by probable
cause, and (3) criminal proceedings terminated in
[the] plaintiff's favor.” (emphasis
added) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's discussion
regarding Younger abstention and conclusion that
Plaintiff is inviting this Court to interfere with the state
court criminal proceedings.See Pl.'s Objs. at
pp. 6-7; R & R at p. 4-5. Plaintiff asserts he is simply
asking the Court “to prevent [the] state court from
denying [him] due process constitutional rights which the
state officials have violated with their facially deficient
warrant.” Pl.'s Objs. at p. 7. However,
Plaintiff's assertion is simply a roundabout way of
saying he does in fact want this federal Court to interfere
with the current state criminal prosecution. The Court finds
Younger abstention is appropriate because (1)
Plaintiff is involved in ongoing state criminal proceedings
(2) that implicate important state interests, and because (3)
Plaintiff has an adequate opportunity to raise his federal
claims in the state proceedings. See Sprint Commc'ns,
Inc. v. Jacobs, 134 S.Ct. 584 (2013) (addressing the
appropriate grounds for Younger abstention);
Robinson v. Thomas, 855 F.3d 278, 285 (4th Cir.
2017) (summarizing the three Younger criteria). By
alleging that his arrest and warrants were invalid, Plaintiff
is effectively asking this Court to intervene in a pending
state criminal matter. See, e.g., Bradley v.
Salisbury Police Dep't, 2013 WL 6592489 (D. Md. Dec.
13, 2013) (summarily dismissing a case based on
Younger abstention where the plaintiff was involved
in ongoing state criminal proceedings), aff'd,
562 F. App'x 166 (4th Cir. 2014) (“[W]e affirm for
the reasons stated by the district court.”). Moreover,
Plaintiff has not made a showing of “extraordinary
circumstances” justifying federal interference with the
state proceedings. See Robinson, 855 F.3d at 286
(“A federal court may disregard Younger's
mandate to abstain from interfering with ongoing state
proceedings only where ‘extraordinary
circumstances' exist that present the possibility of
foregoing reasons, the Court overrules Plaintiff's
objections, adopts the R & R [ECF No. 8], and
DISMISSES this action without prejudice
and without issuance and service of