United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
TYREESE D. BUTLER, SPN #02918321, Plaintiff,
HARRIS COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Tyreese D. Butler (SPN #02918321), has filed a
Prisoner's Civil Rights Complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 ("Complaint") (Docket Entry No. 1), in
connection with criminal proceedings that are pending against
him in state district court. Because Butler is a prisoner who
proceeds in forma pauperis, 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); see also 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). After considering all of the pleadings, the
court concludes that this case must be dismissed for the
reasons explained below.
is currently in custody at the Harris County Jail as the
result of aggravated robbery charges that were filed against
him in September of 2017. In January 2018, Butler was charged in
connection with another aggravated robbery. Public records
confirm that Butler has been charged in the 209th District
Court for Harris County, Texas, with committing aggravated
robbery with a deadly weapon, namely a firearm, in Cause Nos.
1563965 and 1577836. Butler claims that his bond was set
initially at $50, 000.00, but changed to "no bond"
after the second aggravated robbery charge was lodged against
42 U.S.C. § 1983, Butler sues the Harris County Jail,
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, and District Attorney Kim
Ogg for denying him a bond he can afford. Butler seeks
leave to join an existing, but unidentified class action
lawsuit on the issue of "felony bail reform," and
he also requests a "P.R. Bond" or release on his
own personal recognizance.
Claims Against: the Harris County Jail
primary defendant identified by Butler is the Harris County
Jail, which is operated by the Harris County Sheriff's
Department. As a subdivision of Harris County, however,
neither the Harris County Sheriff s Department nor the Harris
County Jail have the capacity to be sued as required by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b). See Aguirre v. Harris County
Sheriff's Office, Civil No. H-ll-3440, 2012 WL
6020545, at *2 (S.D. Tex. Nov. 30, 2012); Lane v. Harris
County Jail Medical Dep't. Civil No. H-06-0875, 2006
WL 2868944, at *7 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 5, 2006); see also
Potts v. Crosby Ind. Sch. Dist. . 210 Fed.Appx. 342,
344-45 (5th Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (upholding dismissal of
claims against the Harris County Sheriff's Department on
the grounds that, as a "non sui juris division
of Harris County," it lacked the capacity to be sued)
(citing Darby v Pasadena Police Dep't, 939 F.2d
311, 313 (5th Cir. 1991)). Therefore, Butler may not pursue
his claims .against the Harris County Jail or the Harris
County Sheriff s Department because these entities lack the
requisite legal capacity.
Claims Against Gonzalez and Ogg
does not allege facts showing that Harris County-Sheriff Ed
Gonzalez or District Attorney Kim Ogg had any personal
involvement in the setting of his bond or that either of
these supervisory officials have authority over the amount of
bond set in his case. In Texas, a criminal defendant's
initial bond determination is made by a magistrate.
See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 15.17(a). The amount
of bond required in any case is regulated by the court and
set in an exercise of its discretion. See Tex. Code
Crim. Proc. art. 17.15. The granting of a personal bond for a
defendant charged with aggravated robbery is within the
discretion of the trial court before whom the case is
pending. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art.
who has been charged with two separate aggravated robbery
offenses involving the use of a firearm, does not allege
facts showing that he has been denied a personal bond
improperly or that any of the defendants were involved in
that decision. Butler does not otherwise establish the
violation of a federal constitutional or statutory right of
the sort that is actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
See, e.g., Bell v. Wolfish, 99 S.Ct. 1861,
1871-73 (1979) (noting that a criminal defendant may be
detained prior to trial so long as his confinement does not
violate the Due Process Clause); United States v.
Salerno, 107 S.Ct. 2095, 2102 (1987) (concluding that
pretrial detention, as a general rule, does not constitute
punishment before trial in violation of the Due Process
Clause). Accordingly, this action must be dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
under § 1983.
Conclusion and Order
on the foregoing, the court ORDERS as
Prisoner's Civil Rights Complaint filed by Tyreese D.
Butler under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Docket Entry ...