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Richardson v. McKinney

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

June 3, 2019

STEPHEN WAYNE RICHARDSON, TDCJ # 1795088, Plaintiff,
v.
DONNA KAY McKINNEY, ET AL., Defendants.

          SHOW CAUSE ORDER

          ELIZABETH S. ("BETSY") CHESTNEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Civil Rights Complaint [#1] filed by the plaintiff, Stephen Wayne Richardson (“Plaintiff”), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is ordered to file an amended complaint clarifying his allegations and, to the extent possible, curing the Complaint's legal deficiencies, which are described below.

         I. Legal Standard

         According to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), this Court is required to screen any civil complaint in which a prisoner seeks relief against a government entity, officer, or employee and dismiss the complaint if the court determines it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. See also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (directing court to dismiss case filed in forma pauperis at any time if it is determined that the action is (i) frivolous or malicious or (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted).

         An action is frivolous where there is no arguable legal or factual basis for the claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint alleges violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist.” Harper v. Showers, 174 F.3d 716, 718 (5th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation and citation omitted). A complaint is factually frivolous when “the facts alleged are ‘fantastic or delusional scenarios' or the legal theory upon which a complaint relies is ‘indisputably meritless.'” Eason v. Thaler, 14 F.3d 8, n.5 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28).

         In evaluating whether a complaint states a claim under § 1915A(b)(1) and § 1915(e)(2)(B), this Court applies the same standards governing dismissals pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). See DeMoss v. Crain, 636 F.3d 145, 152 (5th Cir. 2011). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56, 570 (2007)). These factual allegations need not be detailed but “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A conclusory complaint-one that fails to state material facts or merely recites the elements of a cause of action-may be dismissed for failure to state a claim. See Id. at 555-56.

         II. Deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff is in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Institutions Division (“TDCJ-CID”) serving a thirty-five year sentence for his 2012 Bexar County conviction for manslaughter in No. 2010CR10629. Plaintiff's Section 1983 Complaint alleges: He was charged with murder but found guilty of manslaughter “without notice of intent to bring this lesser charge.” He also alleges the judgment is “void” because it “contain[s] another person['s] name.” He also alleges the prosecution “used false testimony” to convict him. Plaintiff purports to sue former Bexar County Clerk of Court Donna K. McKinney, Texas District Judge Juanita Vasquez Gardner, Assistant District Attorney Bill Pennington, and his former counsel L. Michael Cohen for his wrongful conviction and incarceration. He also purports to sue the TDCJ-CID records clerk apparently because he contends he is in TDCJ-CID custody pursuant to a “void” judgment. Plaintiff seeks damages and release from custody.

         As is explained above, an IFP plaintiff's complaint is considered frivolous and is subject to dismissal if it fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted. In this case, Plaintiff's claims currently have the following deficiencies:

         a. Plaintiff's Complaint is barred by his conviction.

         Plaintiff's civil rights claims for his alleged wrongful prosecution and conviction are barred by Heck v. Humphrey. In Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), the Supreme Court held a civil rights claim arising from a wrongful conviction or imprisonment does not accrue until that conviction or sentence has been “reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.” Because Plaintiff's conviction has not been declared unlawful in the criminal proceedings or through a habeas corpus proceeding, his civil rights action is barred by Heck v. Humphrey.

         b. Plaintiff's claims are barred by the two-year statute of limitations.

         The statute of limitations for civil rights claims arising in Texas is two years. Gonzalez v. Wyatt, 157 F.3d 1016, 1019 (5th Cir. 1998). Therefore, Plaintiff's claims concerning matters occurring in 2012 and before are barred by limitations. In response to this Order, Plaintiff should alert the Court to factual contentions that took place within this two-year window.

         c. The Texas district judge and assistant district attorney ...


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