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Collins v. Oliver

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

April 9, 2018

JILL D. OLIVER, KEN HARRIS, FRED C. SMITH, LAWRENCE CORRALES, and SCOTT D. MEADORS, in their official and individual capacities, Defendants.



         Joseph Willis Collins (Plaintiff), a state pretrial detainee appearing pro se, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking relief for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. See Doc. 1.[1] United States District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti has referred the matter to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C). See Doc. 4.

         I. Screening.

         Federal law requires the court to screen complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In addition, because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the court has an ongoing duty to consider the sufficiency of his claims. See Id. § 1915(e)(2). As mandated, the undersigned has carefully reviewed Plaintiff's pleadings and, for the following reasons, recommends summary dismissal of the action.

         II. Plaintiff's claims.

         Plaintiff alleges he is currently in pretrial detention, awaiting trial on felony charges in the District Court in and for Comanche County, Oklahoma, Case No. CF-2017-481. See Doc. 1, at 1, 4, 5. He asserts four claims and names five Defendants in both their individual and official capacities: Jill Oliver, Ken Harris, Fred Smith, Lawrence Corrales, and Scott Meaders. See Id. at 2. Plaintiff identifies Defendants Oliver and Smith as district attorneys, Defendants Harris and Meaders as judges, and Defendant Corrales as his court-appointed counsel. See Id. at 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

         In Claim I, see Id. at 7-8, Plaintiff contends all Defendants violated his due process rights and, as factual support, alleges “[t]here was no evidence introduced sufficient to support a finding that [Defendant district attorneys] Smith [and] Oliver . . . had or has personal knowledge of the illegal charges filed against [him] - Count I Burglary 1 and Count 2 Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.” Id. at 8. As relief, Plaintiff asks “the court to drop the charges . . . .” Id.

         In Claim II, see Id. at 8, 13, Plaintiff maintains certain Defendants violated his Sixth Amendment rights “by not adviseing [him] of [his] right to have fast and speedy trial within 70 days after [he] received [his] information sheet and after [his] first appearance before a judge . . . . Id. at 8. He further alleges that he has “submitted 3 motion as well as other motions, ” that Defendant “Judge . . . Meadors ignored [his] request, ” and that “[his] lawyer [Defendant] Corrales” failed to advise him of his speedy trial rights. Id. He also faults Defendant “DA Jill Oliver” for failing to “honor” or “reply[] to any of [his] motions . . . .” Id. He contends all Defendants are “in cahoots, by giving [him] uncecessary unconstitutional continuances for money.” Id. at 13. For relief on this claim, Plaintiff asks “the court to review the evidence on Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2[2] as well as the witnesses testimonies.” Id.

         In Claim III, Plaintiff asserts an ongoing violation of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Id. at 9. He alleges “[t]he trial court abused its discretion” by failing to diligently prosecute the criminal action, and he points to allegedly “unconstitutional continuances” given by Defendant Judge Meadors. Id. He also maintains his lawyer, Defendant “Corrales, being court appointed, allowed the judges, to give prosecutorial delays” and is “guilty of wanton misconduct . . . .” Id. He then cites “the Judge [for] totally disregarding his motions, explaining he has “been here since 6-21-17.” Id.

         Finally, in Claim IV, id. at 10, Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants have violated his Eighth Amendment rights and claims that he is “a victim of cruel and unusual punishment . . . .” Id. He points to his “out rages bond of $75, 000” and to “6 month continuances . . . .” Id. He refers to Defendant Corrales' letter to the OBA and claims, “Now I have proof on this letter attached, of the lawyers neglect . . . .” Id.

         III. State court proceedings.

         Judicial notice is taken of the electronic records of the District Court in and for Comanche County, Oklahoma.[3] Those records reflect that on June 21, 2017, the State of Oklahoma charged Plaintiff with two counts in Case No. CF-2017-481: Count 1, Burglary in the First Degree and Count 2, Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon. See r=CF-2017-481&cmid=459358 (last visited on April 6, 2018). On August 1, 2017, a preliminary hearing was waived, and a date was set for formal arraignment. See Id. On August 8, 2017, Plaintiff appeared in person and with counsel at his formal arraignment. See Id. He entered “a plea of not guilty” and “waive[d] speedy trial.” Id. The case was set for the January/February 2018 jury docket and then, on January 18, 2018, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and agreed to pass the case to the May 2018 jury docket. See Id. On February 16, March 2, and March 7, 2018, Plaintiff, appearing pro se, filed six motions, two to quash, two for fast and speedy trial, and two for summary judgment. See id.

         IV. Younger abstention doctrine.

         The relief Plaintiff requests from this Court is that the charges against him be “drop[ped].” Id. at 8. But the Younger abstention doctrine “dictates that federal courts not interfere with state court proceedings . . . when such relief could adequately be sought ...

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