United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. HODGES COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Rodriguez Morant (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Sumter County Sheriff's
Officer Ronald L. Dodson, Jr. (“Officer”), Sumter
County Magistrate Bryan Keith Griffin
(“Magistrate”), bond agent Vanessa Moyer
(“Bond Agent”), and Sumter County Clerk of Court
James C. Campbell (“Clerk”) (collectively
“Defendants”), alleging violations of his civil
and constitutional rights. Pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e)
(D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such
complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations
to the district judge.
Factual and Procedural Background
is a pretrial detainee at the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention
Center. [ECF No. 1 at 2, 4]. Plaintiff alleges that on July
15, 2019, Bond Agent, an Ohio bail bond agent, traveled to
Blythewood, South Carolina with two accomplices, entered onto
private property, tased and killed his dog, broke into his
house, held a gun to his wife's head, and demanded she
reveal his location. Id. at 4. He claims his wife
contacted law enforcement officials, who subsequently
arrested Bond Agent and her two accomplices, after they had
fled the scene. Id. He states his wife suffered a
heart attack as a result of the incident. Id. at 5,
7. Plaintiff states the Richland County Sheriff's Office
arrested him at his home on August 2, 2019, based on an
outstanding warrant from Ohio, as well as detainers from
Sumter County. Id. at 4.
alleges that on August 8, 2019, Officer executed a warrant
based on Bond Agent's representation that Plaintiff was a
fugitive fleeing from justice in Ohio without conducting a
full investigation to determine whether probable cause
supported the issuance of the warrant. Id. at 4, 7.
Plaintiff claims Magistrate signed off on the warrant for his
arrest without probable cause. Id. He maintains
Clerk issued the warrant without probable cause. Id.
sues Defendants in their individual and official capacities,
alleging they acted under color of law to deprive him of his
Constitutional rights. Id. at 2-3, 5, 6, 7. He
requests the court set aside the arrest warrant, perform an
administrative search to determine whether Bond Agent
violated any laws, and award him $10, 000 in legal fees, $1,
500 per week in lost wages, $50 per day for use in the
commissary, $10, 000 for the trespass on his property, and
$1, 000 for each day he is detained. Id. at 7.
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 that 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).
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). 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). 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 that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to
state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it
should do so. 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).
requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the
court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege
facts that set 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). Although
the court must liberally construe a pro se complaint, the
United States Supreme Court has made it clear a plaintiff
must do more than make conclusory statements to state a
claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
677‒78 (2009); Bell Atlantic 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, and the reviewing court need
only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations,
not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), the Supreme
Court held a federal court should not equitably interfere
with state criminal proceedings “except in the most
narrow and extraordinary of circumstances.” Gilliam
v. Foster, 75 F.3d 881, 903 (4th Cir. 1996).
“[C]ourts of equity . . . should not act to restrain a
criminal prosecution, when the moving party has an adequate
remedy at law and will not suffer irreparable injury if
denied equitable relief.” Younger, 401 U.S. at
43-44. Thus, “the normal ...