United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
VANESSA D. GILMORE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Eugene Moore, an inmate of the Harris County Jail
("HCJ"), sued in January 2017, alleging that the
defendant violated his civil rights by arresting him without
probable cause. Moore, proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, sues the Houston Police Department
("HPD"). Moore seeks his "freedom."
(Docket Entry No. 1, p. 5). Based on a review of the
pleadings and the applicable law, this court dismisses
Moore's complaint and enters judgment by separate order.
states that he was arrested at his mother's house without
an arrest warrant. He was later told that he was being
arrested for an aggravated robbery. Moore states that there
was no weapon, no fingerprints, and no identification of
Moore as the perpetrator. Moore asserts that he was illegally
imprisoned without probable cause.
seeks compensatory damages of $50, 000.00. Online research
reveals that the grand jury of the 232nd Judicial District
Court of Harris County, Texas, returned an indictment against
Moore on February 24, 2016, charging him with aggravated
robbery. (Cause Number 150012401010). The indictment charged
Moore with threatening the complainant with fear of imminent
bodily injury and death in the course of committing theft on
December 28, 2015, by exhibiting a deadly weapon.
Standard of Review
district court must dismiss a prisoner's § 1983
complaint if the action is malicious or frivolous, fails to
state a claim, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i), the court may dismiss an in forma
pauperis complaint as frivolous when it lacks an
arguable basis in law or fact. Hutchins v.
McDaniels, 512 F.3d 193, 195 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing
Black v. Warren, 134 F.3d 732, 734 (5th Cir. 1998)).
A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law
or fact. See Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31
(1992); Richardson v. Spurlock, 260 F.3d 495, 498
(5th Cir. 2001) (citing Siglar v. Hightower, 112
F.3d 191, 193 (5th Cir. 1997)). "A 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 v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005
(5th Cir. 1998) (quoting McCormickv. Stalder, 105
F.3d 1059, 1061 (5th Cir. 1997)).
complains that his arrest was illegal because it was not
based on probable cause. Online records show that a grand
jury indicted Moore for aggravated robbery. "An arrest
is unlawful unless it is supported by probable cause."
Flores v. City of Palacios, 381 F.3d 391, 402 (5th
Cir. 2004). "Probable cause exists when the totality of
facts and circumstances within a police officer's
knowledge at the moment of arrest are sufficient for a
reasonable person to conclude that the suspect had committed
or was committing an offense." Ramirez v.
Martinez, 716 F.3d 369, 375 (5th Cir. 2013).
probable cause inquiry focuses on the validity of the arrest,
not the validity of each individual charge made during the
course of the arrest. See Price v. Roark, 256 F.3d
364, 369 (5th Cir. 2001); Wells v. Bonner, 45 F.3d
90, 95 (5th Cir. 1995). A grand jury indictment is sufficient
to establish probable cause. See Gerstein v. Pugh,
420 U.S. 103, 117 n.19 (1975). When the facts supporting an
arrest "are placed before an independent intermediary
such as a magistrate or grand jury, the intermediary's
decision breaks the chain of causation for false arrest,
insulating the initiating party." Cuadra v. Hous.
Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 813 (5th Cir. 2010).
The chain of causation remains intact, however, if "it
can be shown that the deliberations of that intermediary were
in some way tainted by the actions of the defendant."
Hand v. Gary, 838 F.2d 1420, 1428 (5th Cir. 1988).
In other words, "the chain of causation is broken only
where all the facts are presented to the grand jury, where
the malicious motive of the law enforcement officials does
not lead them to withhold any relevant information from the
independent intermediary . . . ." Id. at
the grand jury indicted Moore, he must show that HPD officers
tainted the grand jury's deliberations in some way. There
is no evidence, however, that HPD officers played any role in
the indictment process.
claim against the HPD for false arrest is dismissed with
prejudice as frivolous.
motion to proceed in forma pauperis, (Docket Entry
No. 1), is GRANTED. His claims are DISMISSED as frivolous.
28U.S.C.§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). ...