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Berryman v. Baldwin

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

May 24, 2018

THOMAS K. BALDWIN, et al., Defendants.


          Ronald A. White United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, a pro se prisoner who is incarcerated in the Carter County Jail in Ardmore, Oklahoma, brings this action under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He is seeking termination of his drug court sentence with time served, as well as monetary relief for alleged constitutional violations related to his criminal proceedings in Carter County District Court No. CF-2013-645. Plaintiff complains of the following unconstitutional acts: “Cruel and unusual Punishment, unfair and imparcial Judgement Bias and Predjudice acts pain and suffering, wrongful imprisoment and Double Jepeordy while being discriminated against.” (Dkt. 1 at 3) (errors in original).

         The defendants are Thomas K. Baldwin, Carter County Associate District Judge and Drug Court Judge; Heather Cooper and Ryan Hunnicutt, Carter County Assistant District Attorneys; Melonie Blackburn, Defense Counsel; Danny Powell, Carter County Drug Court Coordinator; Debra Washington, Assistant Drug Court Coordinator; and the Carter County Clerk's Office.

         Screening/Dismissal Standards

         When a prisoner files a civil rights complaint seeking relief from a governmental entity or an officer of employee of a governmental entity:

[T]he court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--
(1) 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(a)-(b). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (dismissal standards for prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis).

         The pleading standard for all civil actions was articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. 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 555-56. “So, when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” the cause of action should be dismissed. Id. at 558. 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).

         A pro 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 given to the pro se litigant's allegations, however, “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). “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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (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).

         Request for Release from Custody

         In addition to monetary damages, Plaintiff is asking to have his drug court sentence terminated with time served. Plaintiff's sentence, however, cannot be altered through a civil rights action. Such challenges to sentencing must be addressed through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         Defendant Judge ...

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