United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. HODGES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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.
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
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 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 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.
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,  he is entitled to absolute
Dutch Fork Magistrate is not a “Person”
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. 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
Heck bars Plaintiff's claims related to his