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Wallace v. J. Elizondo

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

June 25, 2019

ELIJA WILLIAM WALLACE, SPN #00660014, Plaintiff,
v.
J. ELIZONDO, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH P. ELLISON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this section 1983 lawsuit against Houston Police Department ("HPD") Officer J. Elizondo, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, and Harris County state district judge Nikita V. Harmon for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. He seeks monetary damages.

         Having screened the complaint as required by section 1915, the Court dismisses this lawsuit for the reasons explained below.

         I. BACKGROUND AND CLAIMS

         Plaintiff is in custody of the Harris County Sheriffs Office awaiting trial on felony charges for D.W.I, (third offense), aggravated assault against a public servant, and evading arrest/detention with a motor vehicle. His claims in this lawsuit, however, arise from his earlier D.W.I, arrest in January 2017 by defendant HPD Officer J., Elizondo. According to plaintiff, the arrest was a false arrest because Officer J. Elizondo had no evidence of his intoxication. He states that the charges were dismissed by the Harris County District Attorney's Office in January 2019.

         Plaintiff seeks $2.5 million in monetary compensation for the alleged denials of his constitutional rights and his unlawful two-year detention during pendency of the charges.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Section 1915

         Because plaintiff is a prisoner who proceeds in forma pauperis, the Court is required to scrutinize the claims and dismiss his 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. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         A 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); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). When reviewing a. pro se plaintiffs complaint, a court must construe the allegations as liberally as possible. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519(1972).

         B. Judicial Immunity

         Plaintiffs claims for monetary damages against state district judge Nikita V. Harmon are barred by judicial immunity. See, e.g., Herring v. Mayfield, 51 F.3d 1043 (5th Cir. 1995) ("Herring's allegations against Judge Mayfield are based upon Judge Mayfield's actions in conducting a bond hearing and setting the amount of the bond, which is within the scope of her jurisdiction, thus affording her absolute judicial immunity.")- In presiding over plaintiff s criminal prosecution, the state district judge was taking judicial actions within the scope of her authority, and plaintiff does not allege that she acted in complete absence of jurisdiction. See Mitchell v. McBryde, 944 F.2d 229, 230 (5th Cir. 1991). No. viable claim is raised.

         Plaintiffs claims against state district judge Nikita V. Harmon are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to state a viable claim for relief under section 1983.

         C. Prosecut ...


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