United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
CHRISTOPHER POTTER TDCJ (TDCJ No. 896569), Plaintiff,
JUDGE MOLLY FRANCIS, ET AL., Defendants.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Christopher Potter, a Texas inmate, has filed this pro
se civil rights action directly related to his state
criminal judgments. This action has been referred to the
undersigned United States magistrate judge for pretrial
management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order
of reference from Chief Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn. The
undersigned enters these findings of fact, conclusions of
law, and recommendation that, for the following reasons and
to the extent set out below, the Court should deny
Potter's motion for summary judgment [Dkt. No. 6] and
dismiss this action with prejudice.
1999, Potter was convicted in two actions of aggravated
sexual assault of a child under 14, and he was sentenced to a
life sentence in both. See State v. Potter, Nos.
F98-02395-HT & F98-02383-HT (283d Jud. Dist. Ct., Dallas
Cty., Tex), aff'd, Nos. 05-99-00322-CR &
05-99-00323-CR, 2000 WL 1644597 (Tex. App. - Dallas Nov. 3,
2000, no pet. filed). Although his complaint and state court
records reflect that Potter has neither petitioned the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals for discretionary review, sought
habeas relief, or otherwise attacked the validity of the
criminal judgments, he brings this action against the judge
who presided over his trial, law enforcement officers, court
officers and employees, and an attorney - in each
defendant's individual capacity - attacking his criminal
convictions and sentences and seeking monetary damages.
See Dkt. No. 3; see, e.g., Id. at 12
(“Potter seeks that the sentence judgment and
conviction be ordered by the court to [unreadable], reversed
to operate and be removed from all records, files and
computers” and that he receive “monetary damages
from all named Defendants $100, 000, 000 for compensation
damages for Civil Rights, Constitutional Rights Violations,
for special damages for false imprisonment and Violations of
the Plaintiff's protected Civil and Constitutional
district court is required to screen a civil action brought
by a prisoner - whether he is incarcerated or detained prior
to trial - seeking relief from a governmental entity or
employee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c). On
initial screening, the Court must identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint,
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
Id. § 1915A(b). Under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), also applicable here, a district court may
summarily dismiss any complaint filed in forma
pauperis - not limited to complaints filed by prisoners
seeking relief from a governmental entity or employee - for
the same reasons.
for failure to state a claim “turns on the sufficiency
of the ‘factual allegations' in the
complaint, ” Smith v. Bank of Am., N.A., 615
F. App'x 830, 833 (5th Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (quoting
Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S., 135
S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (per curiam); emphasis added by
Smith), and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
“do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted, ” Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 346. Indeed,
to survive dismissal under the now-familiar framework of
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007),
and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), a
plaintiff need only “plead facts sufficient to
show” that the claims asserted have “substantive
plausibility” by stating “simply, concisely, and
directly events” that he contends entitle him to
relief. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 347 (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)-(3), (d)(1), (e)); see Harold H.
Huggins Realty, Inc. v. FNC, Inc., 634 F.3d 787, 796
(5th Cir. 2011) (“A claim for relief is implausible on
its face when ‘the well-pleaded facts do not permit the
court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct.'” (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
rationale that factual plausibility (as opposed to legal
labeling) controls the failure-to-state-a-claim analysis has
even more force in this case, as the Court “must
construe the pleadings of pro se litigants
liberally, ” Andrade v. Gonzales, 459 F.3d
538, 543 (5th Cir. 2006), “to prevent the loss of
rights due to inartful expression, ” Marshall
v. Eadison, 704CV123HL, 2005 WL 3132352, at *2 (M.D.
Ga. Nov. 22, 2005) (citing Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S.
5, 9 (1980)); see United States v. Ayika, 554 F.
App'x 302, 308 (5th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (a court has
a “duty to construe pro se [filings] liberally
so that a litigant will not suffer simply because he did not
attend law school or find a suitable attorney”);
but see Smith v. CVS Caremark Corp., No.
3:12-cv-2465-B, 2013 WL 2291886, at *8 (N.D. Tex. May 23,
2013) (“[L]iberal construction does not require that
the Court or a defendant create causes of action where there
conducting the failure-to-state-a-claim analysis, “it
is clearly proper ... to take judicial notice of matters of
public record, ” Norris v. Hearst Trust, 500
F.3d 454, 461 n.9 (5th Cir. 2007); accord Tellabs, Inc.
v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322
(2008), such as adjudicative facts apparent from “state
court criminal records, ” Land v. Stone, No.
3:10-cv-981-B-BK, 2010 WL 5538413, at *4 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 14,
2010) (citing Taylor v. Charter Med. Corp., 162 F.3d
827, 831 (5th Cir. 1998)); see also Fed. R. Evid.
the defendants named are immune from the claims based on
Potter's factual allegations ...