United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Beaumont Division
RALPH LYNN FERGUSON, JR.
ERIC MARCINE DUNN,
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS AND ADOPTING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CLARK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
court referred this case by order to the Honorable Zack
Hawthorn, United States Magistrate Judge, for pretrial
management pursuant to General Order 05-07. The court has
received and considered Judge Hawthorn's report and
recommendation (Doc. No. 60), which recommends granting
Defendants Josh Beckman, Robert Hilton, Gwen Kelley, Judge
Craig Mixson, Ashley Morrow, Linda Pitts, Courtney Ponthier,
Judge Connie Smith, Brandon Thurman and Charles Willis'
(collectively, the “County Defendants”) second
motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 25). The court has also received
the objections of Plaintiff Ralph Lynn Ferguson (Doc. No.
72). A party who files timely, written objections to a
magistrate judge's report and recommendation is entitled
to a de novo determination of those findings or
recommendations to which the party specifically objects. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2)-(3). After
undertaking a de novo review of Judge Hawthorn's
report, the court concludes that Ferguson's objections
are without merit. As a result, the court adopts the report
and recommendation of Judge Hawthorn.
Ferguson is proceeding pro se, his pleadings are
necessarily held to “less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” and are
liberally construed by the court. See Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Perez v.
U.S., 312 F.3d 191, 194-95 (5th Cir. 2002).
“Parties filing objections must specifically identify
those findings [to which they object]. Frivolous, conclusive
or general objections need not be considered by the district
court.” Nettles v. Wainwright, 677
F.2d 404, 410 n.8 (5th Cir. 1982) (en banc), overruled on
other grounds by Douglass v. United Servs. Auto.
Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc).
Notwithstanding the lesser pleading standards afforded to
pro se parties, Ferguson's objections to Judge
Hawthorn's report and recommendation are both difficult
to decipher and largely conclusory. The court will address
several of Ferguson's more fully articulated objections
Judges Smith and Mixson
construing his objections, Ferguson appears to argue that
Judge Smith had “ulterior motive(s)” for issuing
Ferguson's arrest warrant. Doc. No. 72, at 3. Ferguson
alludes to financial gain as Judge Smith's motive for
issuing the warrant for Ferguson's arrest, stating that
Judge Smith's motives were displayed “when she
informed [Ferguson] when and where to pay her court's
fine money for the charge against him . . . though [Ferguson]
did not plead guilty or ask for the information.”
Id. Judges are entitled to immunity for their
actions even where the judge is alleged to have acted
maliciously, corruptly, or in bad faith. Pierson v.
Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967). Ferguson's other
arguments focus on the propriety of Judges Smith and
Mixson's actions as a Justice of the Peace and State
District Court judge, respectively. Doc. No. 72, at 4-6.
However, both judges' actions were a result of, and in
connection with, their regular judicial functions. Thus, as
recommended in Judge Hawthorn's report, both Judge Smith
and Judge Mixson enjoy judicial immunity from suit.
Ponthier and Hilton
also argues that Ponthier and Hilton acted with
“malice” in pursuing charges against Ferguson
when “they knew no probable cause exist(ed).”
Doc. No. 72, at 7. Ferguson also alleges that Ponthier and
Hilton “refused to disclose (DPS Officer) Dunn's
cruzer [sic] recording of the arrest[, ] which was mitigating
evidence they held in the case file even though [Ferguson]
specifically made this request for same in writing.”
Id. As explained in Judge Hawthorn's report,
prosecutors such as Ponthier and Hilton are completely immune
for the initiation and subsequent investigation involved in a
criminal prosecution. See Loupe v. O'Bannon, 824
F.3d 534, 539 (5th Cir. 2016) (internal citations omitted).
Ferguson does not explain why his allegations, even if they
are to be believed, are sufficient to overcome the generous
grant of immunity afforded prosecutors during the course of
their investigations. Accordingly, the court concludes that
Ferguson's objections are without merit.
after completing a de novo review of Judge
Hawthorn's report and Ferguson's objections, the
objections are overruled and the report and recommendation of
the magistrate judge is ADOPTED. Ferguson shall be allowed
fourteen (14) days from the receipt of this order to amend
his complaint to address the deficiencies described in Judge
Hawthorn's report regarding Ferguson's federal law
claims against Beckman, Kelley, Morrow, Pitts, Thurman and
Willis. Because Ferguson has pled his best case ...