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Brown v. May

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 24, 2019

Tequan L. Brown, Plaintiff,
Jim May; Jeffery Long; Alan Wilson; Jeffery Scott; Bryan P. Stirling; Timothy R. Rainey, Defendants.



         The plaintiff, Tequan L. Brown, a self-represented state prisoner, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive relief only. Plaintiff files this action in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes that Defendants Jim May, Jeffery Long, Alan Wilson, Jeffery Scott, and Timothy R. Rainey should be summarily dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.[1]

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the McCormick Correctional Institution of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). On February 16, 2016, while housed at the Perry Correctional Institution (“Perry CI”) of SCDC, Plaintiff informed Defendant Jeffery Scott about a threat to Plaintiff's life and Plaintiff's mother's life. (Comp. ¶ 13, ECF No. 1 at 4.) Scott is the assistant chief of police services in the gang unit division of SCDC. (Id. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff believes the threat was made by Shawn Taylor because of Plaintiff's involvement in providing assistance in the investigation into Brittanee Drexel's murder. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14, ECF No. 1 at 4.) Plaintiff was placed in protective custody, and Scott informed the FBI of Plaintiff's knowledge about the Drexel murder. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

         On April 14, 2016, Defendant Jim May, Assistant United States Attorney; Defendant Jeffery Long, an FBI agent; Jeffery Scott; and Detective Bean of the Myrtle Beach Police Department interviewed Plaintiff about the Drexel murder. (Id. at ¶¶ 4-5, 17, ECF No. 1at 2, 4.) Apparently, Plaintiff provided information to the interviewers about the Drexel murder and entered into a cooperation agreement. (Id. at ¶ 17, ECF No. 1 at 5.) On July 14, 2016, Plaintiff asked the parties to nullify the agreement. (Id.)

         On August 26, 2016, May publicized to media outlets that Plaintiff provided investigators information in the Drexel case. (Id. at ¶ 19.) Consequently, a gang has offered a bounty for someone to kill Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-21, ECF No. 1 at 6.) Plaintiff has since asked May, Scott, and Defendant and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson to stop associating Plaintiff's name with the Drexel investigation because it has put Plaintiff's life in danger. (Id. at ¶¶ 21, 24.)

         Plaintiff also claims Wilson, at the request of May, has delayed proceedings in Plaintiff's state post-conviction relief action. (Id. at ¶ 25.) Plaintiff alleges that he filed his post-conviction relief application with the Colleton County Clerk of Court over one year ago, and Plaintiff has not yet been appointed counsel. (Id.)

         At some point, SCDC officials moved Plaintiff into statewide protective custody. Another inmate in statewide protective custody, Defendant Rainey, entered into a cooperation agreement with state and federal law enforcement officials, and Rainey told those officials that Plaintiff murdered Brittanee Drexel. (Id. at ¶¶ 26, 28, ECF No. 1 at 7-8.) Plaintiff claims Rainey was told that he would receive a cash reward if he obtained information from Plaintiff about the Drexel murder. (Id. at ¶ 27, ECF No. 1 at 7.) Rainey also threatened another inmate, Dyke, in an effort to get Dyke to lie about Plaintiff's involvement with the Drexel murder. (Id. at ¶¶ 29-30.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that Rainey has agreed to try to kill Plaintiff on behalf of gangs. (Id. at ¶ 32, ECF No. 1 at 9.) And Rainey has already stabbed other inmates at the behest of gangs. (Id. at ¶ 35.) Plaintiff has informed SCDC officials (including Stirling and Scott) and federal and local law enforcement officials that Rainey is a threat to Plaintiff's life. (Id. at ¶ 36, ECF No. 1 at 10.) Plaintiff claims that because Rainey entered into a cooperation agreement with federal and state officials, the defendants have entered into a conspiracy against Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 37.)

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff lists several “legal claims” that he seeks to raise: (1) that the defendants have conspired to violate Plaintiff's civil rights; (2) that the defendants have denied Plaintiff's access to the court in his post-conviction relief hearing; (3) that the defendants have denied Plaintiff equal protection of the laws based on his race; and (4) that the defendants' actions amount to “impermissible punishment” and “reckless endangerment.” (Id. at ¶¶ 41-44, ECF No. 1 at 11.) Plaintiff seeks various forms of injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1) to order Stirling to investigate Rainey; (2) to order Stirling to remove Rainey from statewide protective custody; (3) to order Wilson to process Plaintiff's post-conviction relief application; (4) to order May “to have Plaintiff's name taken off the internet;” (5) to order May and Wilson to file “any and all motions pursuant to” South Carolina Code § 17-25-65 (providing procedures to reduce a criminal sentence in exchange for assistance in a prosecution); and (6) to order May, Scott, and the FBI to “seek the truth” from Rainey. (Id. ¶¶ 47-51, ECF No. 1 at 11-12.) Plaintiff has filed a separate motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to order Stirling to remove Rainey from statewide protective custody.[2] (ECF No. 3.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), including 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Complaint has been filed 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, and is also governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the court to review a complaint filed by a prisoner that seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 2009). Section 1915A requires, and § 1915 allows, a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept ...

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