United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
L. PALK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sharray Tyree Crowder filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit
against former Oklahoma County Judge Bill Graves, the
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, Oklahoma Governor Kevin
Stitt, and various other persons associated with the Oklahoma
County court system. See Am. Compl., Doc. No. 12.
Also included were attorneys who represented Plaintiff in
conjunction with the state-court criminal trial that resulted
in his imprisonment and for which he later sought
post-conviction relief in state court (the denial of which
led to the instant federal action). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636, United States Magistrate Judge Suzanne Mitchell
issued a Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 14], in which
she recommended that Plaintiff's claims be dismissed
without prejudice due to his failure to state claims upon
which relief may be granted. See R. & R., Doc.
No. 14 (applying 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)).
Plaintiff thereafter filed his Objection [Doc. No. 18] to the
R. & R., as well as his Amended Objection [Doc. No.
Court reviews de novo those portions of the R. & R. to
which Plaintiff made specific objections. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Having done
so, the Court finds that Judge Mitchell's R. & R.
should be adopted.
instant case is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
That statute allows for the imposition of liability when
“[any] person . . . under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any State . . .
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or any person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws.” 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Key to stating a § 1983 claim is an alleged
violation of federal law or of the U.S. Constitution that can
be addressed via § 1983. See D.L. v. Unified Sch.
Dist. No. 497, 596 F.3d 768, 776 (10th Cir. 2010) (per
curiam) (“[Section] 1983 affords a remedy for
violations of federal law and does not provide a basis for
redressing violations of state law.” (quotation marks
and citation omitted)). Thus, the applicable standard that
the Court must apply is that recognized by Judge Mitchell in
the R. & R.: “[A]n indigent defendant is entitled
to a free transcript of his trial when directly appealing the
judgment from that trial. But no such entitlement attaches in
a collateral attack on the same judgment”-at least that
is enforceable via § 1983 until a nonfrivolous claim is
shown to exist. Kilgore v. Weatherly, 500 Fed.Appx.
799, 800 (10th Cir. 2012) (unpublished) (citing Ruark v.
Gunter, 958 F.2d 318, 319 (10th Cir. 1992) (per
curiam)); see also Nortonsen v. Larimer Cty. Dist.
Ct., 178 Fed.Appx. 783, 783 (10th Cir. 2006)
(unpublished) (“Criminal defendants have an absolute
right to a trial transcript for direct appeals, but, if they
are seeking postconviction collateral relief, they must first
demonstrate a nonfrivolous claim.” (citing
Ruark, 958 F.2d at 319)); Ruark, 958 F.2d
at 319 (“The [U.S. Supreme Court in] MacCollom
. . . expressly cited circuit court opinions which held that
indigent petitioners seeking collateral relief did not have
unlimited access to trial transcripts.” (discussing
United States v. MacCollom, 426 U.S. 317, 327 n.5
(1976))); cf. Wright v. Curry, 122
Fed.Appx. 724, 725 (5th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (unpublished)
(“[A state prisoner] does not have a
federally-protected right to a free copy of his transcript or
other court records merely to search for possible error in
order to file a petition for collateral relief at some future
date.” (quotation marks omitted) (quoting Colbert
v. Beto, 439 F.2d 1130, 1131 (5th Cir. 1971))).
is nearly identical to this case factually. There, a state
court prisoner “filed a pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983
complaint alleging that [state courts and associated
officials] had unconstitutionally denied him free copies of
court transcripts and other documents that he claims [they]
possessed, ” and “[h]e wishe[d] to access the
transcripts and documents to pursue post-conviction relief in
state court.” Nortonsen, 178 Fed.Appx. at 783.
The “district court dismissed [his] claim as legally
frivolous, ” and the Tenth Circuit affirmed.
Id. (quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff engaged in a direct appeal to the Oklahoma Court of
Criminal Appeals, but his convictions were affirmed. The
state court proceeding he now seeks to engage in is
collateral, so he lacks unlimited entitlement to provision of
a copy of a trial transcript, despite his assertion of
indigency-at least under the federal statutes and the U.S.
Constitution which are the legal authorities at issue in this
case. Plaintiff did not show the existences of a nonfrivolous
claim in the state court proceeding, so no right to a free
copy of his trial transcript exists which can form the basis
for a nonfrivolous § 1983 claim in this Court. See
Nortonsen, 178 Fed.Appx. at 783. The Court has reviewed
the legal authorities cited by Plaintiff in his Objection
[Doc. No. 18] and in his Amended Objection [Doc. No. 19], but
none leads the Court to a different conclusion than that
reached by Judge Mitchell in the R. & R. [Doc. No. 14].
To the extent Plaintiff intends to assert a broad-brush claim
that he should be found indigent by the state court or
provided relief by one of the other defendants named in his
amended pleading, Plaintiff has not indicated any need or
reason for such a finding by the state court or for an action
by one of the other defendants except for the eventual
satisfaction of his request that a trial transcript be
provided to him at no cost (an alleged need addressed
supra). Thus, the analysis of whether a § 1983
claim can exist for non-provision to Plaintiff of a trial
transcript at no cost at this stage of the state court
proceeding based on his showing made in the state court
proceeding addresses the entirety of Plaintiff's claims
in his Amended Complaint.
THEREFORE ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation [Doc.
No. 14] is ADOPTED by the Court, and Plaintiff's
Objection [Doc. No. 18] and Amended Objection [Doc. No. 19]
thereto are OVERRULED.
FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant's § 1983 claims are
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. A separate judgment will be
entered contemporaneous herewith.
 Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro
se, the Court will consider both objections, despite that
they were both filed out of time and despite Plaintiff
failing to identify any procedural basis for filing multiple
objections to the R. & R. Compare Order of July
29, 2019, Doc. No. 17 (extending Plaintiff's deadline to
file his objection to the R. & R. to August 31, 2019),
with Obj., Doc. No. 18 (mailed on September 3, 2019,
and filed September 5, 2019), and Am. Obj., Doc. No.
19 (mailed on September 6, 2019, and filed September 10,
 Although Ruark involved a 28
U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus action, it has been cited by
the Tenth Circuit in § 1983 cases. See Kilgore,
500 Fed.Appx. at 800; Nort ...