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Dixson v. Dallas County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

November 8, 2013

VAN DIXSON, 13062083, Plaintiff,
v.
DALLAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, ET AL., Defendants.

FINDINGS CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

PAUL D. STICKNEY, Magistrate Judge.

Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and an order of the District Court, this case has been referred to the United States Magistrate Judge. The findings, conclusions and recommendation of the Magistrate Judge follow:

I. Background

Plaintiff filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He is proceeding pro se and the Court has granted him leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Defendants are the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, the Dallas County Sheriff's Office CID and the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. Process has not issued pending preliminary screening.

Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his due process rights and his right to a fair trial by providing information to the media "that normally wouldn't be allowed to the knowledge of the jury because I was never convicted of that crime." (Amend. Compl. at 4). Plaintiff asks the Court to order the Defendants to stop providing "reports to the media with evidence that would effect the trial." ( Id. )

II. Screening

A district court may summarily dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it concludes the action is: (1) frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To state a claim upon which relief may be granted, a plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face[, ]" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and must plead those facts with enough specificity "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Id. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 162, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, the plaintiff must allege more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

III. Discussion

Plaintiff filed this complaint against the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, the Dallas County Sheriff's Office CID and the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. A plaintiff, however, may not bring a civil rights action against a servient political agency or department unless such agency or department enjoys a separate and distinct legal existence. Darby v. Pasadena Police Dep't, 939 F.2d 311, 313-14 (5th Cir. 1991). A governmental department cannot engage in litigation "unless the true political entity has taken explicit steps to grant the servient agency jural authority." Darby, 939 F.2d at 313 (agency of city government). Governmental offices and departments do not have a separate legal existence. See, e.g. Magnett v. Dallas County Sheriff's Department, No. 3:96-CV-3191, 1998 WL 51355 at *1 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 20, 1998) (finding Dallas County Sheriff's Department not a legal entity); Robinson v. Snipes, No. 3:09-CV-1863-K, 2009 WL 4059197 at *9 n.1 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 20, 2009) (citing Blaney v. Meyers, No. 3:08-CV-1869-P, 2009 WL 400092 (N.D. Tex. Feb. 17, 2009)) (finding District Attorney's Office is nonjural entity). Defendants in this case are nonjural entities. Plaintiff's complaint should therefore be dismissed.

Additionally, Plaintiff has failed to show Defendants violated his right to a fair trial. Plaintiff does not state what comments Defendants made and how those comments denied him a fair trial. Plaintiff's criminal cases are not yet set for trial and its wholly speculative whether Defendants' alleged statements will have any effect on the trial. Plaintiff has failed to show Defendants violated his civil rights.

RECOMMENDATION

The Court recommends that the complaint be summarily dismissed pursuant to ...


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