Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Scott v. Dutch Fork Magistrate

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

April 11, 2019

Maceo Sandy Scott, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Dutch Fork Magistrate; and Melvin Wayne Maurer, Magistrate Judge, Defendants.

          ORDER AND NOTICE

          SHIVA V. HODGES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Maceo Sandy Scott, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil action alleging violations of his constitutional rights by Dutch Fork Magistrate and Magistrate Judge Melvin Wayne Maurer (collectively “Defendants”). Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(f) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge.

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff alleges on December 18, 2009, he was arrested on charges of providing false information to police and for malicious injury to real property. [ECF No. 1 at 5]. He states he appeared before the Dutch Fork Magistrate on March 25, 2010. Id. Plaintiff claims he requested a jury trial and to have a lawyer present, but the judge entered a guilty plea against him and sentenced him to time in the county jail. Id. Plaintiff requests these charges be removed from his record and requests monetary damages for false imprisonment. Id.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Plaintiff 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 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).

         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). 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 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 setting 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. 1990).

         B. Analysis

         1. Judicial Immunity

         It is 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 Maurer relate to Judge Maurer's judicial actions, [1] he is entitled to absolute immunity.

         2. Dutch Fork Magistrate is not a “Person”

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Although Plaintiff named “Dutch Fork Magistrate, ” he appears to be attempting to sue the Dutch Fork Magistrate Court.[2] However, this defendant is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983. A judicial court is not considered a legal entity subject to suit. See Harden v. Green, 27 Fed.Appx. 173, 178 (4th Cir. 2001) (finding that the medical department of a prison is not a person pursuant to § 1983); see also Post v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 750 F.Supp. 1131 (S.D. Fla. 1990) (dismissing city police department as improper defendant in § 1983 action because not “person” under the statute); Shelby v. City of Atlanta, 578 F.Supp. 1368, 1370 (N.D.Ga. 1984) (dismissing police department as party defendant because it was merely a vehicle through which city government fulfills policing functions). Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims against the Dutch Fork Magistrate is subject to summary dismissal.

         3. Heck bars Plaintiff's claims related to his ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.