United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION
CARRILLO RAMIREZ, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Special Order No. 3-251, this pro se
prisoner case has been automatically referred for findings,
conclusions, and recommendation. Based on the relevant
filings and applicable law, the plaintiff's complaint
should be DISMISSED with prejudice.
November 28, 2016, Ray Anthony Ward (Plaintiff) filed this
civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
State of Texas and two former judges of the 194th Judicial
District Court in Dallas County, Texas, in both their
official and individual capacities. (See doc. 3 at
4, 6-7.) He claims that one of the judges sentenced
him to ten years probation in Cause No. F85-85691 in 1985 but
was not qualified to do so because he did not take the
required oath of office until 1987. (Id. at 4, 6-8.)
Attached to the complaint are copies of the oaths signed by
the judge in 1981, 1982, and 1987. (Id. at 13-15.)
The other judge allegedly tried to cover up the first
judge's mistake by falsifying an order modifying the
conditions of probation in 1990 to show that he was the
original judge who assessed probation. (Id. at 4,
8-9, 17.) In 1992, the second judge also sentenced Plaintiff
to life in prison “off of that void or voidable
probated judgment and sentence, ” after adding an
enhancement paragraph. (Id. at 4, 8-9.) He seeks a
declaration that his rights were violated under the United
States Constitution, the Texas Constitution, and the laws of
the United States and the State of Texas; an injunction
ordering the removal of both judges; monetary damages;
punitive damages; expungement of all charges from his record;
and release from prison. (Id. at 9-10.) No. process
has been issued in this case.
is an inmate who has been permitted to proceed in forma
pauperis. As a prisoner, his complaint is subject to
preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir.
1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma
pauperis, his complaint is also subject to screening
under § 1915(e)(2). Both § 1915(e)(2)(B) and §
1915A(b) provide for sua sponte dismissal of the
complaint, or any portion thereof, if the Court finds it is
frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
complaint is frivolous when it “lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim lacks an
arguable basis in law when it is “based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at
327. A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted when it fails to plead “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937,
sues under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of
his constitutional rights.
1983 “provides a federal cause of action for the
deprivation, under color of law, of a citizen's
‘rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws' of the United States” and
“afford[s] redress for violations of federal statutes,
as well as of constitutional norms.” Livadas v.
Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 132 (1994). To state a claim
under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege facts that show (1)
he has been deprived of a right secured by the Constitution
and the laws of the United States; and (2) the deprivation
occurred under color of state law. See Flagg Bros., Inc.
v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155 (1978); Cornish v.
Corr. Servs. Corp., 402 F.3d 545, 549 (5th Cir. 2005).
seeks release from imprisonment. Release is an inappropriate
remedy in a § 1983 action. See Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 554 (1974). A prisoner cannot
challenge the fact or duration of confinement in a §
1983 action. Clarke v. Stalder, 154 F.3d 186, 189
(5th Cir. 1998) (citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 487 (1973)). He may only do so within the exclusive
scope of habeas corpus. See Preiser, 411 U.S. at
487. Because Plaintiff may only obtain declaratory or
monetary relief in this § 1983 action, he fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted on any claim for
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
official capacity claim is merely another way of pleading an
action against the entity of which the individual defendant
is an agent. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
165 (1985). Plaintiff's suit against the state judges in
their official capacities is a suit against the State of
Texas. See Florance v. Buchmeyer,500 F.Supp.2d 618,