United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. WILKINSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dustin Everette Haney, is a prisoner currently incarcerated
in Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana.
He filed this complaint pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) against
Carl Tracy Schwab; Anthony P. Champagne; Ivan J. Thompson;
District Attorney Joseph L. Waitz, Jr.; Assistant District
Attorney Dennis J. Elfert; Judge John R. Walker; Robert J.
Pastor; Yolanda Cezar; the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary
Board (“LADB”); the Louisiana State Bar
Association (“LSBA”); Detectives Robert
Lottinger, Keith Craft, Jared Matherne, Andy Scott and Joe
Lodrigue; Officer Chad Cunningham; and Houma Chief of Police
alleges generally that he wrongfully was arrested and charged
with attempted second-degree murder and “trying to
sell. . . crystal methamphetamines.” Record Doc. No. 1
at ¶ IV, pp. 7-20. Specifically, he alleges that he was
denied constitutional and civil rights in his Terrebonne
Parish criminal proceedings, including being subjected to
misconduct by the officers, detectives, prosecutors, public
defenders and judge involved in his case; and receiving
ineffective assistance of counsel from his public defenders.
Haney further alleges lack of sufficient communication from
the LSBA, LADB and Cezar, screening counsel for the Office of
Disciplinary Counsel, as to the dismissal of a written
disciplinary complaint he filed against Schwab, one of his
public defenders, for alleged malpractice, bribery and
blackmail. Id. at ¶ IV, pp. 12, 15. Haney seeks
dismissal of his criminal charges, monetary damages and
reimbursement from defendants for this lawsuit's filing
fee. Id. at ¶ V, p. 20.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
prisoner's pro se complaint for alleged civil rights
violations must be screened by the court as soon as
practicable after docketing, regardless whether it has also
been filed in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a);
Lewis v. Estes, 242 F.3d 375, 2000 WL 1673382, at *1
(8th Cir. 2006); Shakur v. Selsky, 391 F.3d 106, 112
(2d Cir. 2004); Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578,
579-80 (5th Cir. 1998). Such complaints by prisoners must be
dismissed upon review if they are frivolous, fail to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted or seek monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b); Shakur, 391 F.3d at 113;
Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir. 1999).
federal court may dismiss a claim in forma pauperis ‘if
satisfied that the action is frivolous or
malicious.'” Moore v. McDonald, 30 F.3d
616, 620 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting former 28 U.S.C. §
1915(d), now incorporated in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), as
amended). A complaint is frivolous “if it lacks an
arguable basis in law or fact.” Davis v.
Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir. 1998); Reeves
v. Collins, 27 F.3d 174, 176 (5th Cir. 1994). The law
‘“accords judges not only the authority to
dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the
complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims
whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.'”
Macias v. Raul A. (Unknown), Badge No. 153,
23 F.3d 94, 97 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)).
complaint lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint
alleges the violation of a legal interest which clearly does
not exist.'” Davis, 157 F.3d at 1005
(quoting McCormick v. Stalder, 105 F.3d 1059, 1061
(5th Cir. 1997)). “When a complaint raises an arguable
question of law which the district court ultimately finds is
correctly resolved against the plaintiff, dismissal under
Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate; however, dismissal under the
section 1915(d) standard is not.” Moore, 976
F.2d at 269. A prisoner's in forma pauperis complaint
which fails to state a claim may be dismissed sua sponte at
any time under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and 42 U.S.C.
complaint asserts claims against several defendants who are
immune from prosecution and several defendants who are not
state actors. In addition, the claims in his complaint are
legally frivolous and fail to state a claim even under the
broadest readingbecause they are barred by applicable
United States Supreme Court precedent. Accordingly,
plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2) and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1), as
legally frivolous, for failure to state a claim on which
relief can be granted and/or for seeking monetary relief
against defendants who are immune from such relief.
claims against Terrebonne Parish District Judge John R.
Walker are barred by judicial immunity. For more than one
hundred years, judges have been held immune from liability
for judicial acts done within their jurisdiction. Stump
v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356 (1978) (citing
Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 335 (1871)); Mays v.
Sudderth, 97 F.3d 107, 110 (5th Cir. 1996). “A
judge, of whatever status in the judicial hierarchy, is
immune from suit for damages resulting from any acts
performed in [his] judicial role.” Ammons v.
Baldwin, 705 F.2d 1445, 1447 (5th Cir. 1983) (citations
omitted); accord Mays, 97 F.3d at 110-11. This
judicial immunity applies even if a judge is accused of
acting maliciously or corruptly. Stump, 435 U.S. at
356-57; Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967),
overruled in part on other grounds by Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982), as recognized by
Hill v. Shelander, 992 F.2d 714, 716 (7th Cir. 1993);
Mays, 97 F.3d at 110-11. Judicial officers are
absolutely immune from liability for damages unless they are
without jurisdiction. Id. at 111; Dayse v.
Schuldt, 894 F.2d 170, 172 (5th Cir. 1990); Freeze
v. Griffith, 849 F.2d 172, 175 (5th Cir. 1988).
past, judicial officers did not enjoy absolute immunity from
suits seeking injunctive relief. Relief of that nature was
available under Section 1983 against state court judges
acting in their judicial capacity. Pulliam v. Allen,
466 U.S. 522, 541-42 (1984). However, the Federal Courts
Improvement Act of 1996 (“FCIA”) amended Section
1983 to provide that “in any action brought against a
judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such
officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not
be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or
declaratory relief is unavailable.” 42 U.S.C. §
FCIA therefore statutorily overruled Pulliam's
holding regarding the availability of injunctive relief
against a state judge in his official capacity. Guerin v.
Higgins, 2001 WL 363486, at *1 (2d Cir. 2001);
Nollet v. Justices, 83 F.Supp.2d 204, 210 (D. Mass.
2000); see also Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d 1234, 1242
(11th Cir. 2000) (1996 amendment to Section 1983 limits the
relief available against a federal judge to declaratory
relief). Thus, neither injunctive relief nor damages are
available in this Section 1983 action against this defendant.
Tesmer v. Granholm, 114 F.Supp.2d 603, 618 (E.D.
Mich. 2000); Nollet, 83 F.Supp.2d at 210.
to whatever extent, if any, that Haney seeks an order of this
court directing the judge to take action concerning his state
court criminal proceedings, a federal court has no power to
direct a state court or its judicial officers in the
performance of their duties when mandamus is the only relief
sought. In re Campbell, 264 F.3d 730, 731 (7th Cir.
2001); Santee v. Quinlan, C. A. No. 96-3417, Record
Doc. Nos. 3, 7, 8 (Nov. 5 & 27, 1996) (Duval, J.),
aff'd, 115 F.3d 355, 356-57 (5th Cir. 1997);
Russell v. Knight, 488 F.2d 96, 97 (5th Cir. 1973);
Moye v. Clerk, 474 F.2d 1275, 1276 (5th Cir. 1973);
Lamar v. 118th Judicial Dist. Court, 440 F.2d 383,
384 (5th Cir. 1971); White v. Stricklin, 2002 WL
1125747, at *2 (N.D. Tex. May 23, 2002); Norman v.
Louisiana S.Ct., 2001 WL 881298, at *1 (E.D. La. Aug. 3,
2001). This court is without authority to order officials of
the state court in which plaintiff's criminal case is
pending to treat his claims in any particular way or to
otherwise interfere with the rulings of its judges.
claims against Judge Walker concern actions that are
exclusively within the scope of the judge's role as a
judicial officer and therefore within his jurisdiction.
Consequently, the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity bars
plaintiff's suit against Judge Walker. For these reasons,
all of Haney's claims against this defendant must be