United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
V. Hodges Columbia, South Carolina United States Magistrate
Frazier (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, is an inmate incarcerated at Lieber
Correctional Institution. He filed this civil action alleging
violations of his constitutional rights by Judge James W.
Johnson and Solicitors C. Dayton Riddle
(“Riddle”) and David M. Stumbo
“Defendants”). Pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d)
(D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such
complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations
to the district judge. For the reasons that follow, the
undersigned recommends that the district judge dismiss the
complaint in this case without prejudice and without issuance
and service of process.
Factual and Procedural Background
filed this complaint asserting claims for wrongful
imprisonment and malicious prosecution. [ECF No. 1 at 4].
Plaintiff alleges Defendants used malicious tactics at his
trial to ensure his conviction and incarceration.
Id. at 6. Plaintiff argues he is being wrongfully
incarcerated and claims the conditions of his confinement
have left him physically and mentally incapacitated.
Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and release
from incarceration. Id.
Standard of Review
filed his complaint 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 a case upon a finding that the action fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous
or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). 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
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with
liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant
to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's
allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of
N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). 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 the plaintiff could prevail, it should
do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction
does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts that 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.
well-settled that judges have immunity from claims arising
out of their judicial actions. Mireless v. Waco, 502
U.S. 9, 12 (1991). Judicial immunity is a protection from
suit, not just from ultimate assessment of damages, and such
immunity is not pierced by allegations of corruption or bad
faith. Id. at 11; see also Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356‒57 (1978) (“A
judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action he
took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of
his authority; rather, he will be subject to liability only
when he has acted in the ‘clear absence of all
jurisdiction.'”) (citation omitted). As
Plaintiff's claims against Judge Johnson relate to his
judicial actions, he is entitled to absolute immunity.
Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims against Judge Johnson
should be summarily dismissed.
have absolute immunity for activities in or connected with
judicial proceedings, such as a criminal trial, bond
hearings, bail hearings, grand jury proceedings, and pretrial
hearings. See Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259
(1993); Dababnah v. Keller-Burnside, 208 F.3d 467
(4th Cir. 2000). Because Plaintiff sues Riddle and Stumbo for
actions associated with the prosecution of his criminal
charges, his claims against these defendants are barred by
prosecutorial immunity. Accordingly, the undersigned
recommends Riddle and Stumbo be summarily dismissed from this
Heck bars Plaintiff's claims related to his