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Studdard v. Lawrence

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

June 26, 2015

STEVE A. STUDDARD
v.
JOHN M. LAWRENCE, ET AL

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MARK L. HORNSBY, Magistrate Judge.

In accordance with the standing order of this court, this matter was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for review, report and recommendation.

STATEMENT OF CLAIM

Before the court is a civil rights complaint filed by pro se plaintiff Steve A. Studdard ("Plaintiff"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This complaint was received and filed in this court on December 19, 2014. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Bossier Parish Minimum Security Facility in Plain Dealing, Louisiana. He names Assistant District Attorney John M. Lawrence and the Bossier Parish District Attorney's Office as defendants.

Plaintiff claims he was not arraigned and the bill was not filed timely within 60 days. Plaintiff claims he therefore should have been released of his bond obligations. He claims his bond was excessive because he was only a passenger in the vehicle and no drugs were found on his person. He claims he was not read his Miranda rights or told what he was being charged with until he arrived at the prison.

Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks relief of his bond obligation, monetary compensation, and dismissal of his pending charges.

For the following reasons, Plaintiff's civil rights complaint should be dismissed.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Bossier Parish District Attorney's Office and Assistant District Attorney John M. Lawrence

Plaintiff alleges no specific claims against the Bossier Parish District Attorney's Office or Assistant District Attorney John M. Lawrence. Prosecutors have absolute immunity when acting in a quasi-judicial mode. Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 106 S.Ct. 984, 47 L.Ed.2d 128 (1976); Geter v. Fortenberry, 849 F.2d 1550 (5th Cir. 1988). The Fifth Circuit has repeatedly recognized the purpose of the immunity defense is to protect public officials from undue interference with their duties and from disabling threats of liability. Geter, 849 F.2d at 1552. Absolute immunity is immunity from suit rather than from liability. Elliot v. Perez, 751 F.2d 1472 (5th Cir. 1985). The Fifth Circuit "has likewise accepted the premise that the protected official should be sheltered from trial and pre-trial preparation as well as liability." Id. at 1478.

The conduct challenged unequivocally falls within the authority of the District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney as quasi-judicial officers of the court and in the ordinary exercise of their quasi-judicial duties.

Accordingly, Plaintiff's civil rights complaint against the Bossier Parish District Attorney's Office and Assistant District Attorney John M. Lawrence should be dismissed as frivolous.

Habeas

Plaintiff seeks to have the charges against him dismissed and his immediate release from incarceration. Although Plaintiff submitted his claim on the standardized civil rights complaint form, it is incumbent upon this court to determine preliminarily whether the facts alleged establish a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, or whether the claim is one which must be pursued initially in a habeas corpus proceeding. This determination is made by focusing on "the scope of relief actually sought." ...


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