United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Stevie Lee Dorsey, is currently in custody at the
Harris County Jail. Dorsey has filed a hand-written complaint
alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
("Complaint") (Docket Entry No. 1). Dorsey has also
filed an Application to Proceed in District Court Without
Prepaying Fees or Costs (Docket Entry No. 2). Because Dorsey
is incarcerated, the court is required to scrutinize the
claims and dismiss the Complaint, in whole or in part, if it
determines that the Complaint "is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted" or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant
who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. §
l9l5A(b). After considering all of the pleadings, the court
concludes that this case must be dismissed for the reasons
is presently in custody at the Harris County Jail pending
criminal charges in the 338th District Court of Harris
County, Texas, for assault on a family member in Cause No.
1563787. The State of Texas has enhanced the
indictment in that case for purposes of punishment with
allegations that, before the charged offense was committed on
September 4, 2017, Dorsey had been convicted of assault on a
family member in two prior cases: Cause No. 1137699 in the
338th District Court for Harris County (2008); and Cause No.
1284453 in the 177th District Court for Harris County, Texas
has filed this lawsuit against the Texas Department of
Corrections, the "State of Texas Judiciary System,
" two state district judges (Kevin Fine and Brock
Thomas) who formerly presided over the 177th and 338th
District Courts, and unidentified Harris County prosecutors
who were assigned to those courts when Dorsey's prior
convictions in Cause Nos. 1137699 and 1284453 were entered in
2008 and 2011. With regard to his prior convictions,
Dorsey contends that he was unlawfully charged, convicted,
and sentenced to a "concurrent" two-year term of
imprisonment in Cause No. 1284453 while he was still serving
the sentence that he received in Cause No.
1137699. Arguing that the charges in Cause No.
1284453 resulted in "Double Billing, " Dorsey
contends that he was improperly punished twice for the same
offense in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause and
several other constitutional provisions. Invoking 42
U.S.C. § 1983, Dorsey seeks compensatory and punitive
damages for his wrongful conviction and the two-year term of
imprisonment that he received in Cause No.
civil rights Complaint, which primarily concerns a conviction
that was entered against him in 2011, is subject to the
two-year statute of limitations provided by Texas law.
See Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 576
(5th Cir. 2001); Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
16.003(a). Because Dorsey waited more than two years to file
suit from the time his claims accrued, his Complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 is untimely and therefore legally
frivolous. See Gartell v. Gavlor, 981 F.2d 254, 256
(5th Cir. 1993).
Complaint fails to state a viable claim for a number of other
alternative reasons. Dorsey's claims for monetary damages
against the Texas Department of Corrections, which is a state
agency now known as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
("TDCJ"), are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
See Martinez v. Texas Dep't of Criminal Justice,
300 F.3d 567, 574 (5th Cir. 2002). To the extent that Dorsey
also appears to sue the State of Texas for its judicial
system, the Eleventh Amendment also bars those claims.
cannot recover monetary damages from the individual state
district judges named in the Complaint because
"[j]udicial officers are entitled to absolute immunity
from claims for damages arising out of acts performed in the
exercise of their judicial functions." Bovd v.
Biqqers, 31 F.3d 279, 284 (5th Cir. 1994). It is also
well established that prosecutors are entitled to absolute
immunity from civil rights claims for actions taken in the
scope of their duties in initiating and pursuing a criminal
prosecution. See Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 129 S.Ct.
855, 861 (2009) (citing Burns v. Reed, 111 S.Ct.
1934 (1991) and Kalina v. Fletcher, 118 S.Ct. 502
(1997)); see also Imbler v. Pachtman, 96 S.Ct. 984,
995 (1976) (holding that prosecutors are absolutely immune
from a civil suit for damages for initiating a prosecution
and in presenting the state's case). Because Dorsey's
allegations are insufficient to overcome these individual
defendants' entitlement to absolute immunity, his claims
against the state district judges and prosecutors assigned to
the 177th and 338th District Courts for Harris County must be
cannot otherwise recover money damages based on allegations
of "unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for
other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render
a conviction or sentence invalid, " without first
proving that the challenged conviction or sentence has been
"reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such
determinations, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus [under] 28
U.S.C. § 2254." Heck v. Humphrey, 114
S.Ct. 2364, 2372 (1994). It is evident from the pleadings and
exhibits that the challenged conviction has not been set
aside or invalidated. Because Dorsey does not demonstrate
that the challenged conviction has been invalidated, his
civil rights claims are not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and his Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice.
See Johnson v. McElveen, 101 F.3d 423, 424 (5th Cir.
1996) (explaining that claims barred by Heck are
"dismissed with prejudice to their being asserted again
until the Heck conditions are met").
Accordingly, this case will be dismissed for failure to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and as legally frivolous for purposes of 28
U.S.C. § l9l5A(b).
Conclusion and Order
on the foregoing, the court ORDERS as
1. The Application to Proceed in District Court Without
Prepaying Fees or Costs (Docket Entry No. 2) is
2. Officials at the Harris County Jail are directed to deduct
the filing fee for indigent litigants ($350.00) from the
Inmate Trust Fund account of Stevie Lee Dorsey (SPN
#00647731), in periodic installments pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b), and forward ...