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Brown v. State

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

September 27, 2018

Leonard C. Brown #1193154, Plaintiff,
v.
The State of South Carolina, R. Markley Dennis, Jr., Benjamin Chad Simpson, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Leonard C. Brown (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Defendants violated his constitutional rights. Plaintiff is a pre-trial detainee incarcerated at the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston, South Carolina, and he files this action in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Complaint is subject to summary dismissal.

         BACKGROUND

         According to the Complaint, [1] “Plaintiff was accused of a capital crime and snatched away from his wife and kids.” [Doc. 1-2 at 9.] The Court takes judicial notice, see 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”); Colonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil, 887 F.2d 1236, 1239 (4th Cir. 1989) (“We note that ‘the most frequent use of judicial notice is in noticing the content of court records.'”) (alteration omitted), that Plaintiff has been charged with murder at case No. 2016A1010204001, which remains pending against him in the Charleston County Court of General Sessions. See Charleston County Ninth Judicial Circuit Public Index https://jcmsweb.charlestoncounty.org/PublicIndex/PISearch.aspx (search case # 2016A1010204001) (last visited Sept. 25, 2018). A true bill indictment was issued on February 6, 2017, at indictment No. 2017GS1000934. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that in October 2017, Judge Dennis denied Plaintiff's right to have a reasonable bail in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [Doc. 1-2 at 4.] Judge Dennis never stated a valid reason for his conclusion. [Id.] Plaintiff filed a motion for a speedy trial and appeared before Judge Dennis on November 3, 2017, regarding his motion. [Id.] Judge Dennis ordered the State to call Plaintiff's case to trial in the first quarter of 2018 and to have a status conference one month before the start of his trial. [Id.]

         Plaintiff then filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case for failure to prosecute after the State failed to comply with Judge Dennis's Order on the speedy trial motion. [Id. at 5.] Judge Dennis conducted a hearing on the motion to dismiss on April 13, 2018, but “declared that he doesn't have to follow his orders, ” and denied Plaintiff's motion. [Id.] Judge Dennis used an “intimidating tone and bias language” under the color of his authority against Plaintiff. [Id.] Judge Dennis stated he did not think Plaintiff was “that smart, ” that Plaintiff was “going to be like a deer caught in head lights at trial, ” and that “if it was [up] to him he would make sure [Plaintiff] doesn't get out of jail until he was (70) seventy years old.” [Id.] Plaintiff contends that Judge Dennis was attempting to make Plaintiff look incompetent for trying to assert his constitutional rights. [Id.]

         Judge Dennis ordered the solicitor to offer Plaintiff a plea deal since the State had not called Plaintiff's case to trial, to which the State agreed. [Id.] Plaintiff again requested that Judge Dennis reduce his bail due to the change of circumstances in his case. [Id. at 6.] Plaintiff informed Judge Dennis that “he has no accuser in his case and the affiant officer was found giving several false misleading statements.” [Id.] Plaintiff also asserted that the state court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff. [Id.]

         Plaintiff has been incarcerated for over two years without a plea offer and without a trial date, causing serious physical and mental injuries. [Id.] Plaintiff has been unable to make bail and has lost his defense attorney, forcing him to accept a state public defender to represent him. [Id.]

         Plaintiff then filed another motion to reduce his bail, and a hearing was held before Judge Dennis on July 26, 2018. [Id.] At that point, the State had not offered Plaintiff a plea deal, despite being ordered to do so; had not proven that the state court has subject matter jurisdiction; had refused to disclose exculpatory material evidence and statements that it is using to prosecute Plaintiff; and had engaged in fraud on the court in order to deprive Plaintiff of his constitutional rights. [Id. at 6-7.]

         Judge Dennis denied Plaintiff's motions and claims, despite not having jurisdiction. [Id. at 7.] Judge Dennis forced an ineffective public defender to represent Plaintiff “without his consent.” [Id.] Judge Dennis has conspired with the State and the Clerk of Court to deprive Plaintiff of his rights. [Id.]

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiff asserts Defendants have violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Thirteenth Amendments. [Id. at 8.] For his injuries, Plaintiff contends he has suffered mentally and must now take psychotic medication, he has suffered physically and is now deformed, he has been deprived of his life and forced into bondage and slavery, and he has been deprived of the right to a fair trial. [Id. at 10.] For his relief, Plaintiff requests money damages in the amount of $1 million and punitive damages. [Id.]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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., the undersigned is authorized to review the Complaint for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district court. 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). Further, Plaintiff is a prisoner under the definition in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), and “seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Thus, even if Plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee, this Court would be charged with screening Plaintiff's lawsuit to identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the Complaint if (1) it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, his 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, 94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, the pro se pleading remains 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, Barnett v. Hargett,174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999), or construct Plaintiff's legal arguments for him, Small v. Endicott,998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or “conjure up questions never squarely presented” to the Court, Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). The requirement of ...


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