United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KEITHT. ELLISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a state inmate, filed this section 1983 complaint alleging
violations of his constitutional rights by a newspaper
editor, a state prosecutor, and a state trial judge. A
prisoner lawsuit brought under federal law must be dismissed
if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant immune from such relief. See
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2),
screened the complaint pursuant to these provisions, the
Court DISMISSES this lawsuit for the reasons
Background and Claims
was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in Brazos
County, Texas and sentenced to forty-five years incarceration
on March 28, 2018. He complains in this lawsuit that the
defendants violated his constitutional rights by publishing,
and allowing to be published, a newspaper article concerning
his criminal trial and history. He seeks $45 million in
1983 provides a vehicle for redressing the violation of
federal law by those acting under color of state law.
Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U.S. 637, 643 (2004). To
prevail on a section 1983 claim, a plaintiff must prove that
a person acting under the color of state law deprived him of
a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
names as a defendant the editor of The Eagle newspaper.
However, section 1983 applies only to state actors and not
private citizens. Thibodeaux v. Bordelon, 740 F.2d
329, 332-33 (5th Cir. 1984). Plaintiff alleges no facts
establishing the editor as a state actor for purposes of
section 1983. In complaining that the editor published
information regarding his criminal prosecution and history,
plaintiff raises no cognizable section 1983 cause of action
against the editor.
claims against the newspaper editor are dismissed with
prejudice for failure to state a colorable claim for relief
under section 1983.
claims that the state prosecutor in his case was aware that
the editor of The Eagle newspaper had obtained documents or
information regarding his criminal case, and that the
information appeared in a newspaper article the day he was
convicted and sentenced. Plaintiff complains that the
prosecutor did nothing in response to the article, and that
the article caused a "tainted trial."
existence of plaintiff s prosecution, facts regarding his
incarceration and criminal history, as well as facts
presented by witnesses in open court during plaintiffs trial,
are matters of public record. Plaintiff had no constitutional
right to privacy regarding these matters. Moreover, plaintiff
does not allege that the trial court had issued any orders
regarding the media that were breached by the prosecutor. His
conclusory claim that the article resulted in a "tainted
trial" is not supported by any factual allegations, and
no issue of constitutional dimension is raised for purposes
of section 1983.
plaintiffs claims against the state prosecutor are barred by
prosecutorial immunity. "A prosecutor enjoys absolute
immunity when her actions are 'intimately associated with
the judicial phase of the criminal process.'"
Loupe v. O'Bannon,824 F.3d 534, 538 (5th Cir.
2016). When prosecutors act in their roles as advocates,
absolute immunity applies. Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S.
478, 487-96 (1991) (holding prosecutor absolutely immune from
liability for presenting false statements in a probable cause
hearing); Imbler v. Pachtman,424 U.S. 409, 430
(1976) (holding prosecutor absolutely immune from liability
for using false testimony at trial). Absolute immunity
applies even when a plaintiff establishes that the prosecutor
acted intentionally, in bad faith, or with ...