United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MCBRYDE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jonathan Lewis ("Lewis"), a prisoner incarcerated
in a facility of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,
filed this suit pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
naming as defendants Judge Graham Quisenberry ("Judge
Quisenberry"), Sheriff Larry Fowler
("Fowler"), and District Attorney Abigail Placke
("Placke"). The court has concluded that such
complaint, and all purported claims and causes of action
asserted therein, should be dismissed sua sponte pursuant to
the authority of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
difficult to discern, Lewis's complaint seems to
challenge a traffic stop that he alleges was illegal, as well
as the evidence presented, and the ruling made, at a motion
to suppress hearing that took place on December 14, 2017.
Lewis claims that he was illegally stopped by "Larry
Fowler's Detectives" for failure to use his blinker
despite him taking no action that would require the use of
his blinker. He seems to be further alleging that the trial
court judge, Judge Quisenberry, erred in denying his motion
to suppress after being provided with proof supporting the
granting of such motion, and that Placke "knowingly and
willingly allowed purgery [sic] to be counted as evidence and
knows it was an illegal stop." Doc. 1 at 3. He also
complains, without specifically naming anyone from the
sheriff's office other than Fowler as a defendant, that
"detectives lied under oath and committed purgery [sic]
Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C..S 193.5A
prisoner seeking redress from government officials,
plaintiff's complaint is subject to preliminary screening
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, regardless of whether he is
proceeding in forma pauperis. See Martin v.
Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1998). Section
1915A(b)(1) provides for sua sponte dismissal if the
court finds that the complaint is either frivolous or fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. A claim is
frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis in either fact
or law." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted when, assuming that all the allegations in the
complaint are true even if doubtful in fact, such allegations
fail to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). After
considering plaintiff's claims as described in the
complaint, the court concludes that they are frivolous and
fail to state a claim for relief against any defendant.
Dismissal Under Heck v. Humphrey
is clear that the court must dismiss a complaint brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, when the civil rights
action for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or
imprisonment, if successful, would necessarily imply the
invalidity of plaintiff's conviction or sentence.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-76 (1994). In
order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by
actions that would render his conviction or sentence invalid,
plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been
reversed or otherwise declared invalid. Otherwise, the claim
is not cognizable under § 1983. Id. at 486-87.
The same rule applies to damage claims that, if successful,
would necessarily imply the invalidity of a potential
conviction in a pending criminal matter. See Hamilton v.
Lyons, 74 F.3d 99, 103 (5th Cir. 1996) .
appears to be challenging the legality of evidence presented
during his pending state court criminal
proceeding.If his criminal charges are still pending,
Lewis cannot establish that his conviction has been reversed
or otherwise invalidated. Absent extraordinary circumstances,
a federal court cannot intervene in state criminal matters.
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45 (1971). Lewis has
pointed to no extraordinary reason that this court hear his
case, and therefore is not entitled to relief.
extent that Lewis's criminal charges may no longer be
pending, he is still required to make a showing that an
authorized tribunal or executive body has overturned or
otherwise invalidated his conviction, which he has not done.
Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. Accordingly, Lewis's
claims are dismissed as frivolous. Hamilton v.
Lyons, 74 F.3d 99, 102 (5th Cir. 1996) (A claim that
falls under the rule of Heck "is legally
frivolous unless the conviction or sentence at issue has been
reversed, expunged, invalidated, or otherwise called into
Claims Against Placke, Judge Quisenberry, and Fowler
ignoring that Lewis's claims are barred by Heck,
Lewis's complaint still fails to state a claim for which
relief may be granted against any of the named defendants. As
to the claims against Placke, the law is clear that' a
prosecutor enjoys absolute immunity. "[A]cts undertaken
by a prosecutor in preparing for the initiation of judicial
proceedings or for trial, and which occur in the course of
[her] role as an advocate for the State, are entitled to the
protections of absolute immunity." Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993). Because the only
allegations against defendant Placke concern her actions
taken in her role in prosecuting Lewis's criminal trial,
she is immune from liability for such actions. Brummett
v. Camble, 946 F.2d 1178, 1181 (5th Cir. 1991)
(concluding prosecutor is absolutely immune from § 1983
suit predicated on malicious prosecution); see also Boyd
v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 285 (5th Cir. 1994)(per
curiam)(immunity applies even if the prosecutor is accused of
knowingly using perjured testimony).
all of the allegations against Judge Quisenberry pertain to
his duties as a judge. Judges enjoy absolute immunity from
claims for damages arising out of actions taken in the
exercise of their judicial functions. Boyd, 31 F.3d
at 284. Such immunity can be overcome only in two narrow
circumstances not alleged here. Mireles v. Waco, 502
U.S. 9, 11 (1991). Thus, ...