United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Patrick J. Hanna United States Magistrate Judge.
complainant, Reginald T. Morris, an inmate in the custody of
the Louisiana Department of Corrections, filed the instant
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 on
April 29, 2019. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the
Lafayette Parish Correctional Center (LPCC). He names the
following as defendants: Public Defender Maggie, Assistant
District Attorney Renee M. Louviera and Judge Comeaux. 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 and for failing to state a claim for which relief
may be granted.
of the Case
alleges that the public defender in St. Martin Parish
violated his constitutional rights by refusing to properly
defend him. Judge Comeaux violated his civil rights by
refusing to remove Maggie, the public defender, from his case
and the Assistant District Attorney, along with Judge Comeaux
and the public defender, acted improperly in connection with
the proceedings against him in St. Martin Parish.
has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis
in this matter. Accordingly, his complaint is subject to
screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which provides
for sua sponte dismissal of the complaint or any
portion thereof if the court determines that it is frivolous
or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law
or fact. Gonzalez v. Wyatt, 157 F.3d 1016, 1019 (5th
Cir. 1998). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted if it is clear the plaintiff cannot
prove any set of facts in support of his claim that would
entitle him to relief. Doe v. Dallas Indep. Sch.
Dist., 153 F.3d 211, 215 (5th Cir. 1998). When
determining whether a complaint is frivolous or fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the court
must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true.
Horton v. Cockrell, 70 F.3d 397, 400 (5th Cir. 1995)
(frivolity); Bradley v. Puckett, 157 F.3d at 1025
(failure to state a claim).
claims against Judge Comeaux arise out of the performance of
his judicial duties. Judges have absolute immunity for acts
done within the scope of their jurisdiction. Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978). The Fifth Circuit has
delineated three elements to identify acts as being judicial
in nature, and thus not in the clear absence of all
jurisdiction: “(1) normal judicial functions that (2)
occurred in the judge's court or chambers and were (3)
centered around a case pending before the judge.”
Eitel v. Holland, 787 F.2d 995, 998 (5th Cir.1986).
These factors are construed liberally in favor of immunity.
Adams v. McIlhany, 764 F.2d 294, 297 (5th Cir.1985).
As the claims against Judge Comeaux meet the criteria set
forth above, he is immune from suit and claims against him
should be dismissed.
Public Defender Maggie
alleges wrongdoing on the part of the head St. Martin Parish
Public Defender's Office, Maggie. Section 1983 claims
require that the conduct complained of be done under color of
law, and private attorneys, even court-appointed attorneys,
are not official state actors, and generally are not subject
to suit under section 1983. Nelson v. Stratton, 469
F.2d 1155 (5th Cir.1972), cert. denied, 410 U.S. 957
(1973). As a matter of law, the acts of an individual's
attorney in representing a criminal defendant do not
constitute the necessary "state action" for a
viable claim under ...