United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
A. DOUGHTY JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. HAYES, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Greg Stevens, a prisoner at Franklin Parish Detention Center
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant
proceeding on May 1');">14, 201');">19, under 42 U.S.C. § 1');">1983. He
names the following defendants: Sixth Judicial District,
District Attorney9;s Office, District Attorney James David
Caldwell, Assistant District Attorney James Trey Phillips,
Judge John Crigler, the State of Louisiana, and Attorney Joy
Jackson.[1');">1" name="FN1');">1" id=
"FN1');">1">1');">1] For reasons that follow, the Court should
dismiss Plaintiff9;s claims.
alleges that, on November 23, 1');">1998, his attorney filed a
motion for a speedy trial before the Sixth Judicial District
Court, Madison Parish. [doc. # 1');">1, p. 3]. Plaintiff claims
that his “constitutional right to a speedy trial was
violated on March 23, 1');">1999.” Id. At a hearing
on April 1');">15, 1');">1999, the State argued that Plaintiff was
responsible for setting the case for trial. Id. The
trial judge agreed. Id.
November 1');">19, 1');">1999, the Supreme Court of Louisiana vacated the
trial judge9;s ruling and remanded the case “for
purposes of relieving [Plaintiff] of his bail obligation on
the pending charges of second degree kidnapping, La. R.S.
1');">14:44.1');">1, and attempted second degree murder, in violation of
La. R.S. 1');">14:27, 1');">14:30.1');">1.” State v. Stevens,
99-1');">161');">14 (La. 1');">11');">1/1');">19/99), 1');">16');">747 So.2d 51');">16, 51');">17. Plaintiff
maintains, however, that “the relief granted was never
claims that, because defendants violated his right to a
speedy trial, his guilty plea and sentence are invalid or
illegal. Id. at 4. The undersigned observes,
however, that the Supreme Court of Louisiana cited La. Code
Crim. Proc. art. 701');">1(D), which provides that failure to
commence trial by the applicable deadline “shall result
in the release of the defendant without bail or in the
discharge of the bail obligation, if after contradictory
hearing with the district attorney, just cause for the delay
is not shown.”
faults Assistant District Attorney James Trey Phillips for
the speedy trial violation and for accepting Plaintiff9;s
guilty plea even though he knew the charges against Plaintiff
“no longer existed because of the speedy trial time
limit . . . .” [doc. # 9, p. 2]. He faults District
Attorney Caldwell because Caldwell “has direct
supervision of the Assistant District Attorneys employed by
his office.” Id. Plaintiff faults the State of
Louisiana, alleging that the “District Attorney and
Assistant District Attorney  prosecute on behalf . . . of
the State of Louisiana.” Id. Plaintiff faults
Judge Crigler for accepting the guilty plea even though he
knew it was invalid and for imposing a subsequent illegal
sentence. Id. Finally, Plaintiff faults his former
appointed counsel, Joy Jackson, because Jackson “did
nothing to stop this injustice, even though she knew what the
prosecution and the court were doing, i.e. accepting a guilty
plea to charges that were invalid.” Id.
seeks $7, 500, 000.00 for his mental anguish and emotional
distress. [doc. # 1');">1, p. 5].
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.
§ 1');">191');">15A. See Martin v. Scott, 1');">156 F.3d
578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1');">1998) (per curiam). Because he
is proceeding in forma pauperis, his Complaint is also
subject to screening under § 1');">191');">15(e)(2). Both §
1');">191');">15(e)(2)(B) and § 1');">191');">15A(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 on which relief may be granted, or
if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
complaint is frivolous when it “lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 90 U.S. 31');">19');">490 U.S. 31');">19, 325 (1');">1989). A claim lacks an
arguable basis in law when it is “based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at
327. Courts are also afforded the unusual power to pierce the
veil of the factual allegations and dismiss those claims
whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id.
complaint fails to state a claim on 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). A claim is facially plausible when it contains
sufficient factual content for the court “to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Plausibility does
not equate to possibility or probability; it lies somewhere
in between. Id. Plausibility simply calls for enough
factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence to support the elements of the
claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a
“context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, supra. A well-pled complaint
may proceed even if it strikes the court that actual proof of
the asserted facts is improbable and that recovery is
unlikely. Twombly, supra.
a complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be
granted if it appears that no relief could be granted under
any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the
allegations of the complaint. In making this determination,
the court must assume that all of the plaintiff9;s factual
allegations are true. Bradley v. Puckett, 1');">157 F.3d
1');">1022, 1');">1025 (5th Cir. 1');">1998). However, the same presumption
does not extend to legal conclusions. Iqbal, supra.
A pleading comprised of “labels and conclusions”
or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action” does not satisfy Rule 8. Id.
“[P]laintiffs must allege facts that support the
elements of the cause of action in order to make out a valid
claim.” City of Clinton, Ark. v. Pilgrim9;s
Pride Corp, 1');">148');">632 F.3d 1');">148, 1');">152-53 (5th Cir. 201');">10). Courts
are “not free to speculate that the plaintiff
‘might9; be able to state a claim if given yet
another opportunity to add more facts to the
complaint.” Macias v. Raul A. (Unknown) Badge No.
1');">153, 94');">23 F.3d 94, 97 (5th Cir. 1');">1994).
hearing need not be conducted for every pro se complaint.
Wilson v. Barrientos, 926 F.2d 480');">926 F.2d 480, 483 n.4 (5th
Cir. 1');">1991');">1). A district court may dismiss a prisoner's
civil rights complaint as frivolous based upon the complaint
and exhibits alone. Green ...