United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings
this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of his Constitutional rights (doc. 1). Pursuant to
the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., this magistrate judge is
authorized to review all pretrial matters in this case and
submit findings and recommendations to the district court.
plaintiff's case was entered on the docket on May 15,
2019 (doc. 1). By order dated May 21, 2019, the undersigned
informed the plaintiff that his case was not in proper form
(doc. 7). On June 3, 2019, the plaintiff submitted additional
documents, and the case is now in proper form for judicial
screening. Having reviewed the plaintiff's complaint, the
undersigned recommends it be dismissed.
plaintiff brings the instant action seeking damages as a
result of two criminal convictions in the Spartanburg County
Court of General Sessions (doc. 1). The court takes judicial
notice of the plaintiff's proceedings in the General
Sessions Court of Spartanburg County, as well as a pending
post-conviction relief (“PCR”) action pending in
the Spartanburg County Court of Common Pleas. See Spartanburg
County Public Index, https://publicindex.sccourts.org/
spartanburg/publicindex/, (enter the plaintiff's name and
2016A4210104742, 2016A4210104743, 2016A4210104744) (last
visited June 6, 2019). Here, the plaintiff has named as
defendants Assistant Solicitor Spencer Smith, and charging
officer Michael Walsh (doc. 1). The plaintiff, a state
prisoner in the custody of the South Carolina Department of
Corrections currently housed at Lieber Correctional
Institution, alleges that his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights were violated by the defendants (id. at 4).
He also contends that the defendants' actions violated
several South Carolina statutes: 23-17-90 (regarding illegal
arrest); 17-13-50 (regarding behavior required of officers
during an arrest); and 23-17-20 (defining breach of duty by
an officer) (id.). Although the sequence of events
is difficult to decipher from the plaintiff's pleading,
he contends that at some point Asst. Sol. Smith told Off.
Walsh that he lacked probable cause to arrest the plaintiff,
but Off. Walsh ignored him and arrested the plaintiff on
April 11, 2017 (id. at 4-5). The plaintiff contends
that the arrest by Off. Walsh was made under false pretenses
(id. at 14). The plaintiff also contends that Asst.
Sol. Smith's decision to continue prosecuting the case
against the plaintiff-after telling Walsh that there was no
probable cause to make the arrest-constituted malicious
prosecution (id.). For relief, the plaintiff seeks a
declaration that the defendants violated his rights, $108,
768.00 in damages, additional punitive damages, a jury trial,
costs, and any additional relief the court deems just
(id. at 6, 14).
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, the plaintiff is a prisoner under the
definition of 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 the plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee,
this Court is charged with screening the 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.
pro se litigant, the plaintiff's 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 (2007) (per curiam). 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, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
complaint is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
“‘is not itself a source of substantive
rights,' but merely provides ‘a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'”
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)
(quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3
(1979)). A civil action under § 1983 “creates a
private right of action to vindicate violations of
‘rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws' of the United States.”
Rehberg v. Paulk, 566 U.S. 356, 361 (2012). To state
a claim under § 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).
noted above, the plaintiff filed the instant action pursuant
to § 1983 and seeking damages from the defendants. For
the reasons that follow, the instant matter is subject to
plaintiff's complaint is barred by Heck v.
respect to the plaintiff's accusations that his rights
were violated when he was arrested by Off. Walsh, as well as
during the subsequent prosecution by Asst. Sol. Smith, his
claims are currently barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the United States Supreme Court
held that in order to recover damages for imprisonment in
violation of the Constitution, the imprisonment must first be
successfully challenged. The Court stated:
We hold that, in order to recover damages for allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other
harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a
conviction or sentence invalid, . . . a § 1983 plaintiff
must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed
on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared
invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a
determination, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. A claim ...