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Benson v. State

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 21, 2019

MICHAEL D. BENSON, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF KANSAS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          Sam A. Crow U.S. Senior District Judge

         Plaintiff Michael D. Benson is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why this action should not be dismissed due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint that are discussed herein.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is detained at the Shawnee County Jail in Topeka, Kansas. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

         Plaintiff's allegations in his Complaint involve his state criminal proceedings. Plaintiff alleges that documents were falsified and he was charged in retaliation for filing a civil rights action in this Court in No. 18-3178-SAC. Plaintiff alleges that his civil rights were violated on August 2, 2018, [1] when he was denied due process, received ineffective assistance of counsel, and was selectively and vindictively prosecuted in No. 18-cr-1447 in Shawnee County, Kansas. Plaintiff names as defendants the State of Kansas and (fnu) (lnu) District Attorney.

         Plaintiff's civil rights No. 18-3178-SAC was filed in this Court on July 25, 2018. See Benson v. Topeka Police Dep't, No. 18-3178-SAC (Kansas District Court). An online Kansas District Court Records Search indicates that No. 18-cr-1447 was filed in Shawnee County on June 12, 2018, prior to the filing of Plaintiff's civil rights case. On August 2, 2018, Plaintiff pleaded nolo contendere to Interference with LEO, obstruct/resist/oppose misdemeanor warrant service or execution, and was placed on twelve months of supervised probation. See State v. Benson, No. 18-cr-1447 (Shawnee County District Court). Plaintiff's probation was subsequently revoked for violations of his conditions of probation. Id. Plaintiff's state criminal case charging him with Aggravated Domestic Battery, Attempted Aggravated Assault, Criminal Possession of Weapon by a Felon, Interference with LEO, Criminal Threat, and Use/Possess With Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia, is still pending. See State v. Benson, No. 18-cr-1359 (Shawnee County District Court). Plaintiff pleaded guilty to several of the charges and sentencing is scheduled for July 26, 2019. Id.[2]

         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 an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).

         “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) (citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         A pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). “[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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The complaint's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570.

         The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained “that, to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se plaintiff]; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed [the plaintiff]; and, what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

         The Tenth Circuit has pointed out that the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Erickson gave rise to a new standard of review for § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted); see also Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). As a result, courts “look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay, 500 F.3d at 1218 (citation omitted). Under this new standard, “a plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (citation omitted). “Plausible” in this context does not mean “likely to be true, ” but rather refers “to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, ” then the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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