United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KENNETH M. HOYT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are the motions to dismiss of defendants'
Melissa Munoz and Jamie Burro in their individual capacities
[DE 4], Harris County, Texas and Ron Hickman, in his official
capacity [DE 3] and by Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott, in their
official capacities [DE 23].
Court has reviewed the motions, responses and replies, if
any, carefully evaluated the facts and applicable law and
determines that the motions should be granted as to Melissa
Munoz and Jaime Burro in their individual capacities, Harris
County, Texas and Ron Hickman, in his official capacity, Ken
Paxton and Greg Abbott, in their official
civil rights action, brought by Jane Doe, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, against county officials and Harris
County arises because Harris County prosecutors, Munoz and
Burro, obtained a writ of attachment or bench warrant that
caused the plaintiff to be detained in Harris County jail
some 49 days, more or less, past the date that she was
released from state custody on unrelated charges.
suspect was arrested, held and tried based on a rape kit
obtained from the plaintiff at the time the offense was
reported. Although the plaintiff cooperated with the Harris
County District Attorney's Office, the prosecutors, Munoz
and Burro, sought and obtained an arrest warrant to insure
the plaintiff's presence for trial. Therefore, the
plaintiff was taken into custody by the Harris County Sheriff
and moved to the Harris County jail after being released to
Harris County on December 18, 2015, to await trial of the
suspect on rape charges.
Munoz and Burro, in their official capacities, the plaintiff
asserts that, based on official policy, or unofficial custom
of jailing cooperating witnesses without notice or
opportunity to be heard, the defendants violated her Civil
Rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C § 1983 and the Fourth,
Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution.
The plaintiff's claim arises as a result of issuance of a
Bench Warrant out of the 248th Judicial District Court and
detention in Harris County jail. Lastly, concerning Munoz and
Burro, the plaintiff asserts that their conduct was ratified
by the District Attorney.
plaintiff also claims that Hickman, as Sheriff, and Harris
County routinely receives persons pursuant to Bench Warrants
and Writs of Attachment. Because of custom, practice and/or
policy, Hickman and Harris County failed to bring
individuals, including the plaintiff, before a court for a
bond hearing, provide appointed counsel where approximate and
in this instance intentionally “booked” the
plaintiff as a charged defendant. They otherwise acted with
conscious indifference to the plaintiff's civil rights in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Fourth, Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution. Again
here, the plaintiff points to failed supervision, lack of
training, and/or the implementation of practices and policies
that permit and/or ignore unconstitutional conduct.
the plaintiff seeks injunctive and/or declaratory relief
against Paxton and Abbott in their official capacities
pursuant to Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908).
While the plaintiff does not specifically state facts that
support injunctive or declaratory relief, presumably, the
conduct of Munoz and Burro, as state prosecutors, is the
basis for including the State Attorney General and Governor,
respectively, in this suit.
against Paxton and Abbott in their official capacities is a
suit against the State of Texas. Hayer v. Meo, 502
U.S. 21, 25 (1991). The plaintiff's assertion that Paxton
and Abbott were included to insure jurisdiction over Munoz
and Burro in the event it is determined that they are State
of Texas actors, reveals lack jurisdiction over Paxton and
Abbott. The plaintiff's argument finds no basis in the
pleadings and there are no allegations that Paxton and/or
Abbott officially or otherwise participated in the events
made the basis of the plaintiff's suit. Assuming that
Munoz and Burro are state officials, sovereign immunity and
the Eleventh Amendment to the federal Constitution bars the
plaintiff's suit as it does against Paxton and Abbott.
Texas has not waived sovereign immunity under section 5 of
the Eleventh or Fourteenth Amendments, to the federal
Constitution. See Will v. Michigan Dept. of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989).
plaintiff, therefore, does not and cannot state a cause of
action against Paxton and Abbott in federal Court. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 668 (2009); Fed. R.
Civ. P., Rule 12(b)(6) (in the absence of participation