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Davis v. Clerk of Court

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

February 4, 2015

TERRY DAVIS, JR., LA. DOC #345635,
v.
CLERK OF COURT, ACADIA PARISH.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

PATRICK J. HANNA, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Terry Davis, Jr., proceeding in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 on October 31, 2014. Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Corrections (DOC). He is incarcerated at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. Plaintiff apparently seeks the production of documents maintained by the Clerk of Court in Acadia Parish. This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636 and the standing orders of the Court. For the following reasons it is recommended that the complaint be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as frivolous.

Background

Plaintiff's pleadings are difficult to decipher. Nevertheless, the exhibits filed in conjunction with his complaint establish that on November 13, 2007 he pled guilty to some unspecified offense and was sentenced to serve 10 years at hard labor. Although the sentencing court recommended participation in the DOC's Intensive Incarceration program, he was deemed ineligible because his conviction was a second conviction for crimes of violence. He was also deemed ineligible for parole or diminution of sentence.

His grievances were denied by the DOC and his motion to amend or modify sentence was also denied by the sentencing court.

In this complaint he seeks an order directing the Acadia Parish Clerk of Court and District Attorney to produce copies of Court records relative to his arrest, prosecution, and conviction. He also seeks appointment of counsel.

Law and Analysis

1. Screening

Plaintiff is a prisoner who has been permitted to proceed in forma pauperis. As a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, his complaint is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir.1998) ( per curiam ). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, his complaint is also subject to screening under § 1915(e)(2). Both § 1915(e)(2) (B) and § 1915A(b) provide for sua sponte dismissal of the complaint, or any portion thereof, if the Court finds it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

A complaint is frivolous when it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law when it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory." Id. at 327. A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it fails to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

2. Production of Documents

Plaintiff seeks an order of Court directing the Acadia Parish Clerk of Court and the District Attorney to produce various unspecified documents related to his arrest, prosecution and conviction. Louisiana law defines what are public records and details how individuals may obtain access to those records. See La. R.S.44:1 et seq. Further, Louisiana law provides that indigent inmates may obtain free copies of court-related records upon a showing of a particularized need for the documents. See State of Louisiana ex rel. Bernard vs. Criminal Dist. Court Section J, 635 So.2d 1174 (La. 1995).

It is unclear whether plaintiff has properly framed his request for public records or whether he is aggrieved by some order or judgment made by a Louisiana Court, however, in any event, he now asks this court to order production of unspecified documents in the custody of the Clerk of Court or District Attorney. A federal court may not interfere with a state court's application of state law. cf. Smith v. McCotter, 786 F.2d 697, 700 (5th Cir.1986) ("We do not sit as a super' state supreme court. (citation omitted) Consequently, we decide... issues only to the extent that federal constitutional issues are implicated and we refuse to act as an arm of the [state court of appeals]..."). Contrary to plaintiff's mistaken belief, this court holds no supervisory power over state judicial proceedings and may intervene only to correct errors of constitutional dimensions. ...


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