United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a pro se prisoner who is incarcerated at the Ottawa County
Jail in Miami, Oklahoma, filed a civil rights complaint (Dkt.
# 1) and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. # 2) on
February 27, 2017. He subsequently filed an amended complaint
(Dkt. # 3) and an amended motion to proceed in forma pauperis
(Dkt. # 4) on March 6, 2017. On April 13, 2017, the Court
granted the amended motion to proceed in forma pauperis and
directed plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee (Dkt.
# 9) which was paid on April 28, 2017 (Dkt. # 12).
amended complaint names Bill Culver and Kenneth Wright as
defendants. Plaintiff alleges defendant Culver is a judge in
the 13th Judicial District of the State of Oklahoma, and
Kenneth Wright is the District Attorney for Ottawa County,
Oklahoma. Plaintiff asserts the defendants violated his
constitutional rights when Judge Culver ordered plaintiff to
be held by the sheriff's office until it was time for
plaintiff's appearance in court.
claims that because of this incident, he now is afraid of the
government, the judicial system, and the police, and he has
“no hope for mankind for the generations to come”
(Dkt. # 3 at 7). Plaintiff believes the defendants should be
punished for their acts and requests relief in the form of
punitive damages and an audit of Judge Culver's records.
Id. at 4, 8. For the reasons set forth below, both
defendants must be dismissed for plaintiff's failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in
which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court must identify any cognizable claim
and dismiss any claim which is frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a
claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must present
factual allegations, assumed to be true, that “raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The
complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id.
at 570. A court must accept all the well-pleaded allegations
of the complaint as true, even if doubtful in fact, and must
construe the allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Id. at 555. Nonetheless, “when the
allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a
[plausible] claim of entitlement to relief, ” the cause
of action should be dismissed. Id. at 558.
Twombly articulated the pleading standard for all
civil actions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
684 (2009). The court applies the same standard of review for
dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) that is
employed for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d
1214, 1217-18 (10th Cir. 2007).
se plaintiff's complaint must be broadly construed under
this standard. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
The generous construction to be given to the pro se
litigant's allegations “does not relieve the
plaintiff of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which
a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v.
Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).
Notwithstanding a pro se plaintiff's various mistakes or
misunderstandings of legal doctrines or procedural
requirements, “if a court can reasonably read the
pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could
prevail, it should do so . . . .” Id. A
reviewing court need not accept “mere conclusions
characterizing pleaded facts.” Bryson v. City of
Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990); see
also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (“While a complaint
attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to
provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires
more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
(quotations and citations omitted)). The court “will
not supply additional factual allegations to round out a
plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a
plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New
Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff's Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief
May Be Granted
Defendant Judge Bill Culver
alleges that on the day of his court hearing,  he went to Judge
Culver's office to ask permission to be excused from the
“cost collections” docket that was scheduled to
begin in about an hour. Plaintiff told the judge's
secretary that he had just been offered a “time
sensitive” job in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that would last
through the day and night. The secretary relayed the
information to the judge, and when she returned, she told
plaintiff that the request had been denied. Plaintiff then
told the secretary he had no money to give the court, but if
allowed to complete the Tulsa job, he could make a double
payment the day after the job. The secretary relayed this
additional information to the judge who again denied
left Judge Culver's office and went down the hall to the
men's restroom. He was washing his hands when an officer
from the sheriff's office appeared and told plaintiff
that he was to be taken to the sheriff's office and held
until court began. Plaintiff told the officer he had done
nothing wrong, and he believed no one had the authority to
deny his civil rights. Plaintiff then advised the officer he
intended to turn on a video camera and film the situation,
which plaintiff did.
sheriff's office, plaintiff was told to stop filming,
that plaintiff would be held in the jail until the judge
called for him, and plaintiff could not leave the
sheriff's office and return to the courthouse by himself.
The officer further advised plaintiff that he was not under
arrest and he would be searched. All of plaintiff's
personal items were taken from him, and he was placed behind
a locked door until Judge Culver called about an hour later.
Plaintiff asserts the violation of his due process rights
began the moment Judge Culver ordered plaintiff's
detention, and the events that transpired subjected him to
cruel and unusual punishment and denied him the ability to
attempt a resolution to resolve his financial obligations to
defending against § 1983 actions enjoy absolute immunity
from damages liability for acts performed in their judicial
capacities.” Supreme Court of Virginia v. Consumers
Union, 446 U.S. 719, 734-35 (1980) (citations omitted).
See also Dennis v. Sparks, 449 U.S. 24, 27 (1980);
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.”) (quotation and footnote omitted). In
determining whether a judge was acting in his judicial
capacity, courts should look to the “nature of the act
itself, i.e., whether it is a function normally
performed by a judge, and to the expectations of the parties,
i.e., whether they dealt with ...