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Harris v. Heckard

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

October 11, 2017

CARLOS LURON HARRIS
v.
KWASIC HECKARD NO. 3

         SECTION P

          ROBERT G. JAMES JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pro se plaintiff Carlos Luron Harris, proceeding in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil rights complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, on April 24, 2017. [Rec. Doc. 1] Plaintiff sues Kwasic Heckard seeking compensatory damages. 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.

         Factual Background

         On April 30, 2015, acting on a tip from a confidential informant, defendant, along with other agents, conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle in which plaintiff was a passenger. [Rec. Doc. 1-2. p. 1] A pat down was conducted and plaintiff was found to be in possession of crack cocaine. Id. Plaintiff advised officers that the crack belonged to the driver. Id. Plaintiff advised officers of a residence where more crack cocaine could be found and, after a search of this residence and an additional arrest, plaintiff, the driver of the vehicle, and another individual were taken in for booking. Id.

         An Affidavit of Probable Cause for Arrest Without a Warrant was executed by the defendant on that date. Id. On May 1, 2015, the affidavit was filed and probable cause for the arrest was found by a Fourth Judicial District Court Judge. Id.

         Plaintiff was initially charged by Bill of Information with one count of possession of CDS II with intent to distribute and one count of conspiracy to possess controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute. [Rec. Doc. 1-2, p 2] On April 26, 2016, the Bill of Information was amended. Id. On that date, plaintiff withdrew his plea of not guilty and pled guilty to one count of attempted possession of drug paraphernalia and sentenced to time served[1" name="FN1" id="FN1">1]. [Rec. Doc. 1-2, 11');">p. 11]

         Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on April 24, 2017, alleging that the defendant violated his constitutional rights by unreasonably searching and seizing his person “without a warrant made upon probable cause and supported by an Oath or affirmation.” [Rec. Doc. 1, p. 6]

         Law and Analysis

         1. Screening

         Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity who has been permitted to proceed in forma pauperis. Accordingly, his complaint is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578');">156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir.1998) (per curiam). Since 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 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, 19');">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, 2');">556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (A court should begin its analysis by “identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”); Schultea v. Wood, 1427');">47 F.3d 1427, 1433 (5th Cir.1995).

         Courts are not only vested with the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but are also afforded the unusual power to pierce the veil of the factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neiztke v. ...


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