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.

Walker v. Dudek

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

September 24, 2019

David Richard Walker, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Robert M. Dudek, David R. Alexander, Bryan P. Stirling, Henry D. McMaster, Robert M. Madsen, Sarah A. Mauldin, Shannon M. O'Cain, Thomas E. Huff, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

         David Richard Walker, Jr., (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brought this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections and is currently incarcerated at the Lieber Correctional Institution. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., the undersigned Magistrate Judge is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. Having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the undersigned finds that this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this civil rights action alleging that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. [Doc. 1 at 6.] Plaintiff's verbose Complaint is difficult to decipher. However, the crux of this action appears to be Plaintiff's contention that Defendants Dudek and Alexander have litigated his criminal appeal in the state court, that he has not consented to their representation in his state court appeal, and that their purported representation on his behalf violates his rights under the Constitution. [Id. at 12.] Plaintiff makes a variety of confusing allegations against Defendants, claiming that they are all “associated with [a] network conspiring to unlawfully convict and imprison [him]” and otherwise harm him. [Id. at 13.] Plaintiff contends that he has endured “governmental abuse” which undercuts the integrity of his criminal appeal in the state court. [Id. at 7.]

         Plaintiff contends that, prior to and upon his conviction in the state court, he indicated that he wished to remain pro se in his appeal, and he only wished to receive the assistance of counsel to help him with “Print-Out(s) of Information (from web), Type Handwritten Brief(s) and motion/s relevant within [his] appeal.” [Id. at 12.] Petitioner contends, however, that Defendants Dudek and Alexander are appellate attorneys who purport to represent him, without his consent, on matters related to his criminal conviction and appeal in the South Carolina Court of Appeals. [Id. at 9.] Plaintiff contends that these two attorneys have violated his civil rights because he never retained them to represent him and they have violated their ethical duties in their purported representation of Plaintiff. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that he has the right to not accept the appointment of these attorneys to represent him in his appeal and that Defendant Huff, who is a judge on the South Carolina Court of Appeals, violated Plaintiff's rights by refusing to permit Plaintiff to proceed pro se. [Id. at 10.] Plaintiff appears to contend that each of the Defendants participated together in the unlawful litigation of his appeal and the unlawful representation of Defendants Dudek and Alexander, thereby violating Plaintiff's civil rights. [Id. at 11.] Plaintiff makes other similar allegations against the named Defendants.

         For his relief, Plaintiff requests that the Court enter a preliminary and permanent injunction, ordering “that Appeal (Appellate No. 2017-000550) [briefs] filed and litigated by Attorneys Robert M. Dudek and David R. Alexander be strike[n], removed, and . . . refused [by] the S.C. Court [of] Appeals.” [Id. at 21.] Plaintiff also seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages. [Id. at 22.] Plaintiff also asks for an order from this Court ordering Defendants Dudek and Alexander to terminate their representation of Plaintiff, ordering the South Carolina Court of Appeals to restart the appeal in that court without the assigned attorneys on the case, and ordering Defendants to relinquish all of Plaintiff's files in their possession. [Id.]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff is a prisoner under the definition in 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, this Court is charged with screening Plaintiff's lawsuit to identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the Amended 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.

         Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, his 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, 94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to summary dismissal. The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which Plaintiff could prevail, it should do so, but a district court may not rewrite a petition to include claims that were never presented, Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999), or construct Plaintiff's legal arguments for him, Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or “conjure up questions never squarely presented” to the court, Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). 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).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff filed this action 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).

         Although the Court must liberally construe the pro se Complaint and Plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to prove his case as an evidentiary matter in his pleadings, the Complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (explaining that a plaintiff may proceed into the litigation process only when his complaint is justified by both law and fact); cf. Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 530 (2011) (holding that plaintiff need not pin his claim for relief to precise legal theory). “A claim has ‘facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Owens v. Baltimore City State's Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 388 (4th Cir. 2014).

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). As noted, although the court must liberally construe the pro se complaint, a plaintiff must do more than make conclusory statements to state a claim for relief. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face, and the reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; see also Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 74-75 (4th Cir. 1994) (explaining that, although the court must liberally construe the pro se complaint, a plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements to state a claim); White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 723-74 (4th Cir.1989) (dismissing complaint dismissed because it “failed to contain any factual allegations tending to support his bare assertion”). While Plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to prove his case as an evidentiary matter in the complaint, he must allege facts that support a claim for relief. Bass v. DuPont, 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003).

         Here, Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to summary dismissal because each of the Defendants are entitled to dismissal and because he has failed to state a claim ...


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.