United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
WERLEIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kenneth Robert Bruce, currently incarcerated at the Federal
Correctional Institution in Bastrop, Texas, filed this civil
action against the presiding judge and prosecutors who
prosecuted him in his federal criminal case. See
Docket Entry No. 1 ("Original Bill for Equitable
Relief/Writ of Sequestration and Other Injunction Relief
against All Defendants"). Among other frivolous
allegations, Plaintiff contends that his conviction is a
"mortgage" held in trust and that defendants owe
him millions of dollars in connection with his conviction.
March 19, 2015, a jury convicted Plaintiff on all twenty-six
counts of false claims against the United States and aiding
and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 287 and §
2, and on one count of interference with the administration
of the Internal Revenue laws and aiding and abetting in
violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
See United States of America v. Bruce, Crim. No.
H-14-249, at Docket Entry No. 78 (S.D. Tex. 2014) (Jury
Verdict) (Atlas, J., presiding). On June 22, 2016, Plaintiff
was sentenced to 180 months on counts 1-26 with three
years' supervised release and one year as to Count 27, to
run concurrently with the 180-month sentence, and was ordered
to pay over $3 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue
Service. See id. at Docket Entry No. 127. Plaintiff
filed a Notice of Appeal of his conviction on July 20, 2016.
Id. at Docket Entry No. 138. On October 12, 2016,
the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
dismissed Plaintiff s appeal of his conviction for failure to
prosecute. See id. at Docket Entry No. 170. On
December 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present lawsuit
against the Honorable Nancy F. Atlas and the prosecutors in
his criminal case, without payment of the filing fee.
See Docket Entry No. 1.
January 10, 2017, the Court notified Plaintiff that his
pleadings were deficient and directed plaintiff either to pay
the filing fee or to submit a properly supported motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis and a certified
copy of his inmate trust account. (Docket Entry No. 3) . The
Court's notice specifically advised plaintiff that this
action would be dismissed pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if he failed to comply as
directed within thirty days of the date of the notice. To
date, Plaintiff has not responded to the Court's notice
directing him to pay the filing fee or submit a properly
supported motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a
certified copy of his inmate trust account statement.
Plaintiff has not otherwise attempted to comply.
failure to comply with the Court's instructions leads the
Court to conclude that he lacks due diligence. Therefore,
under the inherent powers necessarily vested in a district
court to manage its own affairs, this Court determines that
dismissal is appropriate. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b);
Slack v. McDaniel, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 1607 (2000)
(stating that "[t]he failure to comply with an order of
the court is grounds for dismissal with prejudice");
Larson v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1030 (5th Cir. 1998)
(noting that a district court may sua sponte dismiss
an action for failure to prosecute or to comply with any
this case must be dismissed as frivolous and malicious,
because it lacks any basis in law or fact and seeks monetary
damages from defendants who are immune from such relief.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court may scrutinize the basis of
the complaint and, if appropriate, dismiss the case without
service of process if the lawsuit is frivolous, malicious,
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See id. An action is frivolous if it
lacks any arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v.
Williams, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1831-32 (1989); Talib v.
Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir. 1998) . A complaint
lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint
alleges violation of a legal interest which clearly does not
exist. Harris v. Heamann, 198 F.3d 153, 156 (5th
Judge Nancy F. Atlas is immune from liability for damages for
her role in Plaintiff's conviction. See Pierson v.
Ray, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 1217-18 (1967) ("Few doctrines
were more solidly established at common law than the immunity
of judges from liability for damages for acts committed
within their judicial jurisdiction."); see also
Stump v. Sparkman, 98 S.Ct. 1099, 1104-05 (1978);
Bauer v. Texas, 341 F.3d 352, 357 (5th Cir. 2003)
("Judges enjoy absolute immunity from liability for
judicial or adjudicatory acts."). The doctrine of
absolute judicial immunity protects judges not only from
liability, but also from suit. Mireles v. Waco, 112
S.Ct. 286, 288 (1991). Allegations of bad faith do not
overcome judicial immunity, id., and neither do
allegations of procedural errors. See Mitchell v.
McBryde, 944 F.2d 229, 230 (5th Cir. 1991).
the prosecutors named as defendants are also immune from
liability for their roles in prosecuting Plaintiff. See
Imbler v. Pachtman, 96 S.Ct. 984, 993-94 (1976) (holding
that a prosecutor initiating and pursuing a criminal
conviction is absolutely immune from civil suit for damages);
see also Burns v. Reed, 111 S.Ct. 1934, 1941-42
(1991) (holding that a prosecutor is absolutely immune from
liability for appearing as a lawyer at a hearing for the
government in the prosecution of a defendant). Plaintiff is
attempting to sue the defendants for their roles in
prosecuting him, essentially attacking the judgment of
conviction. Therefore, defendants are absolutely immune from
liability in this case.
Plaintiff's purported "cause of action" states
no cognizable claim as a matter of law. Plaintiff attempts to
sue defendants in their official capacities and in their
capacities as "implied trustees" declaring that
there is a "judgment deed" in United States v.
Bruce and that his conviction is an "equitable
mortgage." See Docket Entry No. 1 at 4-5.
Plaintiff is apparently attempting to assert a sovereign
citizen-type claim to challenge his conviction, which
"has no conceivable validity in American law."
United States v. Schneider, 910 F.2d 1569, 1570 (7th
Cir. 1990); see also Berman v. Stephens, Civil No.
4:14-860, 2015 WL 3622694, at *2 (N.D. Tex. June 10, 2015)
(finding that a prisoner's "reliance on the UCC or a
so-called 'sovereign citizen' theory that he is
exempt from prosecution and beyond the jurisdiction of the
state or federal courts is frivolous") (collecting
cases). Accordingly, Plaintiff's case must be dismissed
on the foregoing, it is hereby
that this case is DISMISSED with prejudice as frivolous and
malicious pursuant to 28 ...