United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
CROW U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Walter Tyrone Bell brings this pro se civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds
in forma pauperis. At the time of filing, Mr. Bell
was a prisoner at the Saline County Jail in Salina, Kansas.
For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to show
cause why his complaint should not be dismissed.
Nature of the Matter before the Court
complaint (ECF No. 1) alleges his constitutional right
“of being innocent until proven guilty” was
violated by the judge in a state prosecution. ECF No. 1, at
3. Plaintiff was charged with aggravated battery and criminal
threat. At a hearing on Plaintiff's motion for bond
reduction, the judge refused to lower the bond, making the
statement that the bond is suitable for the charges and the
community is a safer place with Plaintiff in jail. The
charges against Plaintiff were later dismissed without
names as defendants Saline County District Court Judge Rene
Young and the State of Kansas. He does not specify what
relief he is requesting.
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
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). 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). 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).
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).
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.
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).
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).
complaint is subject to dismissal. Defendant Young, as Saline
County District Judge, enjoys absolute immunity from
liability under § 1983. Stein v. Disciplinary Bd. of
Supreme Court of New Mexico, 520 F.3d 1183, 1189
(10th Cir. 2008). Absolute judicial immunity is
immunity from suit altogether. See Mireles v. Waco,
502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991) (citing Mitchell v. Forsyth,
472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)). “[J]udges of courts of
superior or general jurisdiction are not liable to civil
actions for their judicial acts, even when such acts are in
excess of their jurisdiction, and are alleged to have been
done maliciously or corruptly.” Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355-56 (1978) (quoting
Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 335, 351 (1871)). The
Supreme Court has emphasized that a judge's immunity from
§ 1983 liability “is overcome in only two sets of
circumstances. First, a judge is not immune from liability
for nonjudicial acts, i.e., actions not taken in the
judge's judicial capacity. Second, a judge is not immune
for actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete
absence of all jurisdiction.” Mireles, 502
U.S. at 11-12 (citations omitted).
actions Plaintiff describes being taken by Defendant Young
were judicial acts, taken within the judge's
jurisdiction. Therefore, Defendant Young is entitled to
judicial immunity, ...