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Cheatham-Bey v. Waters

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 17, 2018

MEGAN WATERS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff William C. Cheatham-Bey, an inmate at the Leavenworth County Adult Detention Center appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why his complaint should not be dismissed.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1) alleges racial and religious discrimination in connection with the revocation of his probation. Plaintiff names as defendants Megan Waters, the Director of Leavenworth County Community Corrections (“LCCC”), and Corey Skaggs, Probation Officer with LCCC.

         Plaintiff alleges the defendants “select individuals for revocation[] based on arbitrary classifications” including “inter-racial” and religious discrimination. Doc. 1 at 2. He brings two counts. For Count I, Plaintiff claims that around the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, Defendant Waters made racial remarks to his fiancée, Ashley Burns, about her “being with” an African-American man, to the point of harassment. Id. at 3. Defendant Waters was supervising Ms. Burns' probation.

         For Count II, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Skaggs questioned him during his intake orientation into community corrections about the “Bey” on the end of his last name. When Plaintiff responded it meant he was of Moorish descent, Defendant Skaggs asked if he was a Muslim “in such a way [Plaintiff] kn[e]w [he] had a problem.” Id. at 3. Plaintiff further alleges Defendants Waters and Skaggs “made a point to have me revoke[d].” Id. at 4. Mr. Cheatham-Bey claims in his first 18 months of supervision, he had 8 to 12 positive urine tests, but Defendant Skaggs did not inform him he could challenge the tests and have them sent to the lab for further testing. Plaintiff states that sometime in 2016, he was revoked for another 18 months of supervision because he refused to sign papers to extend his supervision for another 5 months when he was due to be discharged in 5 days. Id. at 5. Then, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Skaggs filed a revocation report on July 24, 2017, that falsely claimed Plaintiff had a domestic violence charge, did not report to a substance abuse assessment, and had used alcohol and marijuana. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks an apology from Defendant Waters and compensatory damages of between $1.5 and $3 million.

         II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of such entity to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Additionally, with any litigant, such as Plaintiff, who is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court has a duty to screen the complaint to determine its sufficiency. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Upon completion of this screening, the Court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b), 1915(e)(2)(B).

         To survive this review, the plaintiff must 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). In applying the Twombly standard, the Court must assume the truth of all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Leverington v. City of Colo. Springs, 643 F.3d 719, 723 (10th Cir. 2011).

         While a pro se plaintiff's complaint must be liberally construed, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), pro se status does not relieve the plaintiff of “the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). The Court need not accept “mere conclusions characterizing pleaded facts.” Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). In addressing a claim brought under § 1983, the analysis begins by identifying the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989). The validity of the claim then must be judged by reference to the specific constitutional standard which governs that right. Id.

         III. ...

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