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Smith v. State

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

March 8, 2019

NICOIS M. SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF OKLAHOMA, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SHON T. ERWIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Nicois M. Smith has filed a pleading tilted “Writ of Habeous [sic] Corpus, ” which the Court has construed as a Complaint filed under 42 U.S.C § 1983. (ECF No. 1); see infra. United States District Judge David L. Russell has referred this matter to the undersigned magistrate judge for initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)-(C). A review of the complaint has been conducted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The Court must review each complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress against a governmental entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss the complaint or any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1).

         I. DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT

         In the pleading, Mr. Smith states that “cruel and unusual punishment” is occurring at the Oklahoma County Detention Center where is he currently incarcerated. (ECF No. 1). According to Mr. Smith, Oklahoma County Detention Center officers: (1) are “passing out sedation meds and anistetics [sic] and or tranqulizers” to assault Plaintiff and (2) have failed to investigate various assaults which have occurred at the facility. (ECF No. 1). Although Mr. Smith titles his pleading “Writ of Habeas Corpus, ” his allegations concern the conditions of his confinement. Thus, the Court has construed the pleading as one brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Palma-Salazar v. Davis, 677 F.3d 1031, 1035 (10th Cir. 2012); (“'It is well-settled law that prisoners who wish to challenge only the conditions of their confinement ... must do so through civil rights lawsuits ... not through federal habeas proceedings.'”) (omissions in original) (quoting Standifer v. Ledezma, 653 F.3d 1276, 1280 (10th Cir. 2011)).

         As the sole Defendant, Mr. Smith names the State of Oklahoma. See ECF No. 1:1. But the State of Oklahoma is not a proper defendant in a § 1983 claim. “The ultimate guarantee of the Eleventh Amendment is that nonconsenting States may not be sued by private individuals in federal court.” Bd. of Trustees of Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 363 (2001) (citing Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 73 (2000)). An exception exists when the State waives its Eleventh Amendment immunity, see Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 755 (1999), or if Congress abrogates it. See Garrett, 531 U.S. at 363. Neither exception applies here. The State of Oklahoma has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity. See Okla. Stat. tit. 51, § 152.1(B) (“[I]t is not the intent of the state to waive any rights under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.”). And, Congress did not abrogate the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity through the enactment of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 345 (1979). Thus, because the State of Oklahoma should be dismissed and it is the only defendant in this action, the Court should dismiss the Complaint in its entirety.

         III. REMAINING MOTIONS

         In addition to the Complaint, Plaintiff has filed three other motions: (1) “Motion to Compel Amongst the Ranks of Oklahoma County Detention Center;” (2) “Motion for Order to Gather Evidence;” and a “Motion of Discovery.” (ECF Nos. 2, 3 & 6). With the recommendation to dismiss the Complaint, the undersigned would also recommend dismissal of these pleadings as moot.

         IV. RECOMMENDATION AND NOTICE OF RIGHT TO OBJECT

         The Court should dismiss the Complaint in its entirety. Plaintiff is hereby advised of his right to object to this Report and Recommendation. See 28 U.S.C. § 636. Any objection must be filed with the Clerk of the District Court by March 25, 2019. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Failure to make timely objection to this Report and Recommendation waives the right to appellate review of both factual and legal questions contained herein. Casanova v. Ulibarri, 595 F.3d 1120, 1123 (10th Cir. 2010).

         V. STATUS ...


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