United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Bristow Marchant, United States Magistrate Judge
Plaintiff, Isaac Goodman, Jr., also known as Isaac Goodwin,
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He is an inmate at
the Goodman Correctional Institution, part of the South
Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC).
established local procedure in this judicial district, a
careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint pursuant
to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and
§ 1915A, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub.L. No.
104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), and in light of the following
precedents: Denton v. Hernandez. 504 U.S. 25 (1992),
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989), Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), Nasim v. Warden,
Maryland House of Com, 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995), and
Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983).
Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than
those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574
F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and a federal district court
is charged with liberally construing a pro se complaint to
allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citing Bell
Atlantic Com, v. Twomhly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)).
even when considered pursuant to this liberal standard, for
the reasons set forth herein below this case is subject to
summary dismissal. 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
cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990);
see also Ashcroft v. lqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679-679
(2009) [outlining pleading requirements under the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure].
is serving two concurrent twenty-five year sentences of
incarceration for possession with intention to distribute
crack cocaine and for trafficking in cocaine, and a
consecutive five-year sentence of incarceration for
involuntary manslaughter. See Richland County Fifth Judicial
Circuit Public Index,
8108103 (manufacturing/distributing crack -3rd);
11511510082784869100115527181 (trafficking in cocaine);
(manslaughter)(last visited Feb. 6, 2019).
asserts claims concerning incidents allegedly occurring from
2000 to 2001 which led to his arrest on the crack cocaine
charge and his convictions (guilty pleas) on January 23, 2011
to the crack cocaine and involuntary manslaughter charges. He
alleges federal and state constitutional claims as well as
claims pursuant to South Carolina law. Plaintiffs allegations
stem from his belief that a search warrant was improperly
returned (Plaintiff appears to claim that Sergeant Sheer, who
is not named as a defendant in this action, untimely returned
a search warrant, which made it invalid). He claims that
based on this deficiency there was a lack of subject matter
for his prosecution, that his due process and other
constitutional rights were violated, that there was
prosecutorial misconduct because prosecutors allegedly knew
of these deficiencies, that his attorney and a prosecutor
withheld vital witness statements that would have reversed
the outcome of his conviction and sentencing, and that his
attorney and prosecutors improperly coerced him to accept a
plea deal. Plaintiff requests monetary damages, vacation of
his criminal convictions, and the filing of state and federal
charges against the parties involved. ECF No. 1 at 13-14.
this case is subject to summary dismissal pursuant to
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), which held
that a state prisoner's claim for damages is not
cognizable under § 1983 where success of the action
would implicitly question the validity of the conviction or
duration of the sentence, unless the prisoner can demonstrate
that the conviction or sentence has been previously
invalidated. Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-487. As these
claims would implicitly question the validity of Plaintiffs
convictions and he has not alleged that his convictions have
been previously invalidated, they are subject to dismissal.
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-487. Heck acts to bar claims
for injunctive and declaratory relief as well as for monetary
damages. See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82
["[A] state prisoner's § 1983 action is barred
(absent prior invalidation)-no matter the relief sought
(damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of the
prisoner's suit...-if success in that action
would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement
or its duration."]; Mobley v.
Tompkins, 473 Fed.Appx. 337 (4th Cir. 2012)[applying
Heck in a civil action seeking damages and
injunctive relief relating to federal convictions] (citing
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-487; Harvey v. Horan,
278 F.3d 370, 375 (4th Cir. 2002), abrogated on other grounds
by Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521 (2011)).
to the extent Plaintiff is requesting release from prison,
such relief is not available in a civil rights action. See
Heck, 512 U.S. at 481 [stating that "habeas
corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who
challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks
immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may
come within the literal terms of § 1983"];
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-88
(1973)[attacking the length of duration of confinement is
within the core of habeas corpus]. Moreover, To the extent
Plaintiff is attempting to collaterally attack his sentences,
Plaintiffs exclusive federal remedy to obtain release from
custody is to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, after full exhaustion of his
state remedies. See Heck, 512 U.S.
at48l. Plaintiffs claims against Defendants
Magistrate Judge C. L. Hudnell, Magistrate Judge Samuel Peay,
and Circuit Judge Alexander S. MacCauley are also subject to
summary dismissal because these Defendants are entitled to
absolute judicial immunity from suit for all actions taken in
their judicial capacities. See Mireles v. Waco, 502
U.S. 9 (1991); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349,
351-64 (1978); Pressly v. Gregory, 831 F.2d 514, 517
(4th Cir. l987)[a suit by South Carolina inmate against two
Virginia magistrates]; Chu v. Griffith, 771 F.2d 79,
81 (4th Cir. 1985)["It has long been settled that a
judge is absolutely immune from a claim for damages arising
out of his judicial actions."]; see also Siegert v.
Gilley, 500 U.S. 226 (1991) [immunity presents a
threshold question which should be resolved before discovery
is even allowed]; accord Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d
1234 (11th Cir. 2000)[discussingjudicial immunity of United
States District Judges and United States Circuit Judges].
Plaintiffs claims against Defendants Solicitor Warren B.
Giese, Assistant Solicitor Lawrence G. Wedekind. Assistant
Solicitor Kathryn Luck Campbell, and Assistant Solicitor Jill
C. Andrews, since Plaintiffs claims involve the prosecution
of his criminal cases, these Defendants are protected from
Plaintiffs claims for damages by prosecutorial immunity.
See Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526
(l985)[absolute immunity "is an immunity from suit
rather than a mere defense to liability"]: see also
Bernard v. County of Suffolk, 356 F.3d 495, 502 (2d Cir.
2004)[immunity extends to "persons working under [a
prosecutor's] direction, when they function as advocates
for the state" and are clearly associated with the
judicial process]. Prosecutors have absolute immunity for
activities performed as "an officer of the court"
where the conduct at issue was closely associated with the
judicial phase of the criminal process. See Van de Kamp
v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335, 341-343 (2009). For example,
when a prosecutor "prepares to initiate a judicial
proceeding," "appears in court to present evidence
in support of a search warrant application," or conducts
a criminal trial, bond hearings, grand jury proceedings, and
pre-trial "motions" hearings, absolute immunity
applies. Id. at 343; see also Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259 (1993); Dababnah v.
Keller-Burnside, 208 F.3d 467 (4th Cir. 2000).
Robert W. Mills, who appears to have been Plaintiffs attorney
at the time of the alleged incidents, is entitled to summary
dismissal as a Defendant because an attorney, whether
retained, court-appointed, or a public defender, does not act
under color of state law. Plaintiff has alleged no facts to
indicate that Defendant Mills acted under color of state law.
See Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81, 91 (2009)
[noting that a publicly assigned or privately retained
counsel for a criminal defendant is not ordinarily considered
a state actor]; Polk Cnty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312,
317-324 nn. 8-16 (1981)["A lawyer representing a client
is not, by virtue of being an officer of the court, a state
actor 'under color of state law' within the meaning
of § 1983."]; Hall v. Ouillen, 631 F.2d
1154, 1155-1156 & nn. 2-3 (4th Cir. 1980)[court-appointed
attorney]; Peas v. Potts, 547 F.2d 800 (4th Cir.
the Defendant Bryan P. Stirling, the Director of SCDC,
Plaintiff has not made any specific allegations against
Defendant Stirling other than to state that Stirling "is
being placed on notice for the Accountability of the
[SCDC]". (ECF No. 1 at 13). He has not provided any
specific factual information to support a claim that
Defendant Stirling violated any of his constitutional rights.
See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
[requiring, in order to avoid dismissal, '"a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant
fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests'" (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). In
order to proceed under § 1983, a plaintiff must
affirmatively show that a defendant acted personally in the
deprivation of his constitutional rights; Vinnedee v.
Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977); and when a
complaint contains no personal allegations against a
defendant, that defendant is properly dismissed. See
Karafiat v. O'Mally, 54 Fed.Appx. 192, 195 (6th
Cir. 2002); Curtis v. Ozmint C/A No.
3:10-3053-CMC-JRM, 2011 WL 635302 at *4 n. 5 (D.S.C. Jan. 5,
2011); Whaley v. Hatcher, No. 1:08CV 125-01-MU, 2008
WL 1806124, at *1 (W.D. N.C. Apr.18, 2008). Here, Plaintiff
has failed to allege any facts about Defendant Stirling that
would show that he was personally involved in any purported
constitutional deprivation. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 676 [providing that a plaintiff in a § 1983
action must plead that the defendant, through his own
individual actions, violated the Constitution]; Wright v.
Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 850 (4th Cir. 1985) ["In
order for an individual to be liable under § 1983, it
must be 'affirmatively shown that the official charged
acted personally in the deprivation of the plaintiffs rights.
The doctrine of respondeat superior has no
application under this section.'"](quoting
Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d at 928).
to the extent Plaintiff alleges claims for false arrest and
illegal search and seizure, these claims are further barred
by the applicable statute of limitations. State law
concerning limitation of actions applies in claims brought
under § 1983; see Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S.
261, 266 (1985), partially superseded by statute as stated in
Jones v. R .R. Donnelly & Sons. Co., 541 U.S.
369, 377-380 (2004); and in South Carolina, the applicable
statute of limitations is generally three years, see S.C.
Code Ann. § 15-3-530. Conversely, federal law governs
the question of when a cause of action accrues: see
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007); and under
federal law, the running of the statute of limitations begins
when a plaintiff knows or has reason to know of his injury.
Id. Here, Plaintiff had reason to know of his claims
for false arrest at the time of his arrest in January 2000.
which is more than three years prior to his filing of this
action in December 2018. The statute of limitations for an
arrestee's § 1983 false arrest or false imprisonment
claim begins at the time of arrest. Wallace, 549
U.S. at 389 ["[T]he statute of limitations upon a §
1983 claim seeking damages for a false arrest in violation of
the Fourth Amendment, where the arrest is followed by
criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant
becomes detained pursuant to legal process."]. It is
also clear that Plaintiff knew about the allegedly invalid
search warrant at the time he filed his petition pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254, see Goodman v.
Cartledee, No. 9:07-3517-MBS, 2008 WL 4458159 (D.S.C.
Sept. 30, 2008), which is also more than three years prior to
the filing of this action.
Hudnell, Peay, Giese, Wedekind, Campbell, Maccaulay, Andrews,
SCDC Director Bryan P. Stirling, and Sheriff Leon
in their official capacities are also entitled to Eleventh
Amendment immunity as to any claims against them for monetary
damages. The Eleventh Amendment to the United States
Constitution divests this Court of jurisdiction to entertain
a suit for damages brought against the State of South
Carolina, its integral parts, or its officials in their
official capacities, by a citizen of South Carolina or a
citizen of another state.See Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S.
706 (1999); College Savs. Bank v. Florida Prepaid Educ.
Expense Bd., 527 U.S. 666 (1999); Seminole Tribe of
Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (l996)freaffirming
Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10(1890) [holding
that a citizen could not sue a state in federal court without
the state's consent]; Pennhurst State School &
Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89 (l984)[although express
language of Eleventh Amendment only forbids suits by citizens
of other States against a State, Eleventh Amendment bars
suits against a State filed by its own citizens]; Alabama
v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); Will v. Michigan
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 61-71 (1989);
Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663 (1974) [stating
that "when the action is in essence one for the recovery
of money from the state, the state is the real, substantial
party in interest and is entitled to invoke its [Eleventh
Amendment] sovereign immunity from suit even though
individual officials are nominal defendants"](quoting
Ford Motor Co. v. Dep't. of Treasury, 323 U.S.
459, 464 (1945)); see also Harter v. Vernon, 101
F.3d 334, 338-39 (4th Cir. 1996); Bellamy v.
Borders, 727 F.Supp. 247, 248-50 (D.S.C. 1989);
Coffin v. South Carolina Dep't of Social Servs.,
562 F.Supp. 579, 583-85 (D.S.C. 1983); Belcher v. South
Carolina Bd. of Corrs., 460 F.Supp. 805, 808-09 (D.S.C.
1978). While the United States Congress can override Eleventh
Amendment immunity through legislation, Congress has not
overridden the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity in
§ 1983 cases. See Quern v. ...