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Murphy v. Abbott

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

July 8, 2019

JACOB EARL MURPHY #01805040
v.
GREG ABBOTT, et al.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ANDREW W. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         TO: THE HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The undersigned submits this Report and Recommendation to the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(f) of Appendix C of the Local Rules. Before the Court is Plaintiff's original complaint. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and in forma pauperis.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         At the time he filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff was confined in the Telford Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division. Plaintiff sues Governor Greg Abbott, Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice Dale Wainwright, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Brian Collier, and Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Pardons and Paroles Division Pamela Thielke. Plaintiff alleges the defendants “allowed [him] to persist injuriously under liberty restraint after claim of right demand when notified.” Plaintiff indicates he has mailed to the defendants notices for liberty to be granted, contract obligation notices, letters of favor for presentation, and warrant affidavit notices. Plaintiff seeks $31, 300, 000, 000 in damages and the “unrestrained free body and liberty rights of [himself], and John Alfred Grimes.”[1]

         DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         A. Standard Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

         An in forma pauperis proceeding may be dismissed sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if the court determines the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from suit. A dismissal for frivolousness or maliciousness may occur at any time, before or after service of process and before or after the defendant's answer. Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1116, 1119 (5th Cir. 1986).

         When reviewing a plaintiff's complaint, the court must construe plaintiff's allegations as liberally as possible. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). However, the petitioner's pro se status does not offer him “an impenetrable shield, for one acting pro se has no license to harass others, clog the judicial machinery with meritless litigation and abuse already overloaded court dockets.” Farguson v. MBank Houston, N.A., 808 F.2d 358, 359 (5th Cir. 1986).

         B. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

         Being sued in their official capacities for monetary damages, Defendants are immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment because such an action is the same as a suit against the sovereign. Pennhurst State School Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89 (1984). The Eleventh Amendment generally divests federal courts of jurisdiction to entertain suits directed against states. Port Auth. Trans-Hudson v. Feeney, 495 U.S. 299, 304 (1990). The Eleventh Amendment may not be evaded by suing state agencies or state employees in their official capacity because such an indirect pleading remains in essence a claim upon the state treasury. Green v. State Bar of Texas, 27 F.3d 1083, 1087 (5th Cir. 1994).

         C. Heck v. Humphrey

         Insofar as Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages against Defendants in their individual capacities for his alleged illegal confinement, Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) and the Fifth Circuit's application of Heck to state prisoner § 1983 lawsuits in Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279 (5th Cir. 1994). In Heck, the Supreme Court held:

[I]n order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a ยง 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such ...

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