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Glover v. Newman

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

July 27, 2018

GREG NEWMAN, et al., Defendants.



         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See (Doc. No. 8). Also pending is Plaintiff's Letter seeking the appointment of counsel. (Doc. No. 6).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at the Mountain View Correctional Institution, has filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff names as Defendants: Assistant District Attorneys J. Douglas Mundy, Greg Newman, and Michael Bender. He alleges that Defendants have violated due process and defamed his character by bringing false and “trumped up” criminal charges against him. (Doc. No. 1 at 12). Their actions have allegedly resulted in two consecutive sentence of 50 to 72 months' imprisonment. He asks the Court to set aside the criminal verdict and judgment, award him damages for pain and suffering, dismiss the charges, and grant any other relief the Court deems appropriate.

         On a separate page entitled “Conditions of Confinement, ” Plaintiff alleges that correctional personnel are deliberately indifferent for failing to carry out medical orders, and that prison housing assignments are inconsistent with, or aggravate, a prisoner's medical condition. (Doc. No. 1 at 15).


         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In its frivolity review, a court must determine whether the Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)).

         A pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir. 2009) (“Liberal construction of the pleadings is particularly appropriate where … there is a pro se complaint raising civil rights issues.”). However, the liberal construction requirement will not permit a district court to ignore a clear failure to allege facts in his complaint which set forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). A pro se complaint must still contain sufficient facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (the Twombly plausibility standard applies to all federal civil complaints including those filed under § 1983). This “plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). He must articulate facts that, when accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling him to relief. Id.


         (1) Prosecutorial Immunity

         Prosecutors are absolutely immune as individuals from Section 1983 liability for acts arising out of the exercise of their official functions. Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 418 (1976). This immunity applies only to the extent that prosecutors serve as advocates for the State. Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993). Therefore, a prosecutor's administrative and investigative duties that do not relate to the preparation for the initiation of a prosecution or for judicial proceedings are not entitled to absolute immunity. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants brought criminal charges against him that were unfounded and excessive. Deciding whether, and with what offenses, an individual should be charged with is a prosecutorial duty that is a traditional function of an advocate. See generally Savage v. Maryland, __ F.3d __, 2018 WL 3398220 at *6 (4th Cir. July 13, 2018) (“whether to ‘initiat[e] a prosecution,' of course, is in the heartland of the prosecutorial discretion covered by absolute immunity.”) (quoting Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 486 (1991)). Therefore, absolute prosecutorial immunity applies and the claims against Defendants are dismissed.

         (2) Criminal Convictions

         Federal law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to imprisonment: a petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and a complaint under the Civil Rights act, § 1983. Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004). “Habeas corpus, and not § 1983, is the exclusive federal remedy for state prisoners seeking actual release from confinement, ” Griffinv. Baltimore Police Dep't, 804 F.3d 692, 694-95 (4th Cir. 2015) (citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-90 (1973)), and “requests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement may be presented in a § 1983 action, ” Muhammad, 540 U.S. at 750. Some cases are “hybrids, ” where a prisoner seeks damages, which are unavailable through a habeas action, but on allegations that either imply the invalidity of ...

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