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Hallman v. Gordon

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

July 9, 2019

ROBERT F. HALLMAN, TDCJ No.02224866, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVE GORDON, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER RESOLVING PENDING MOTIONS AND OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL UNDER 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A & 1915(E)(2)(B)

         This case is before the Court for review of pro-se inmate/plaintiff Robert F. Hallman's pleadings under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)(2)(B). After review and consideration of Plaintiff's claims, the Court determines that all claims must be dismissed under authority of those provisions.

         I. BACKGROUND/COMPLAINT

         In this suit, plaintiff Hallman filed a lengthy handwritten complaint with numerous attachments and exhibits. (Compl. (doc. 1) at 1-7; (doc. 1-1) at 1-79.) The complaint names as defendants attorneys Steve Gordon and Leticia Martinez; Elizabeth Beach, judge, Criminal District Court Number One, Tarrant County, Texas; Fort Worth police detectives McKee and O'Neill; and Bill Waybourn, sheriff, Tarrant County, Texas. (Compl. (doc. 1) at 1-3, 6-7; (doc. 1-1) at 15-18, 39-41, 76-78.)

         Hallman complains of the actions of attorneys Gordon and Martinez in their respective representation of him on a charge then pending in case number 1451589 before Criminal District Court Number One, Tarrant County, Texas. (Compl. (doc. 1), at 4, 6-7; (doc. 1-1), 2-14 and 15-38.) Hallman alleges that Judge Beach took actions on his case with regard to attorney Gordon's motion to withdraw outside of his presence. (Compl. (doc. 1-1), at 40-41.) Hallman names Sheriff Waybourn as responsible for the classification of inmates at the Tarrant County jail and complains of his classification in protective-custody housing. (Id. at 76-77.) In this regard, he claims that Waybourn interfered with his right to effective assistance of counsel because the holdover cell in which he was required to meet with counsel is loud and crowded. (Id.) He alleges Detectives McKee and O'Neill failed to conduct a thorough investigation of the charge filed against him. (Id. at 78.) Hallman seeks “relief from his unlawful confinement, ” and monetary damages. (Id. at 4.)

         II. MOTION TO AMEND/SUPPLEMENT COMPLAINT

         Hallman's complaint was filed in 2017. Although he never sought to amend this pleading, he did file a large number of papers “to the attention of Judge Means.” (Doc. 14, at 1-39.) Within that volume of papers, associated primarily with Hallman's administrative efforts to complain of his attorneys and Judge Beach, he included copies of the indictments in case numbers 1451589 and 1489585.[1] (Doc. 14, at 23, 37.) On May 24, 2019, however, Hallman filed a one-page document entitled “Motion for Leave to File Amended and Supplemental Pleadings Rule 15 FRCP, ” along with a twelve-page document entitled “Motion to Amend and with Supplemental Pleadings.” (Doc. 23.) Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that a party may amend his pleading once as a matter of course. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). And Rule 15(d) provides that on motion and reasonable notice, a court may, on just terms, permit a party to serve a supplemental pleading. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). Because the case is still subject to screening under §§ 1915A and 1915(e), the Court will grant the motion to consider the attached document as a supplemental complaint and consider the claims listed in the supplemental complaint. The motion for leave to amend/supplement (doc. 23) is therefore GRANTED.

         In the supplemental complaint, in addition to renaming the five defendants already listed, Hallman names numerous additional defendants. (Suppl. Compl. (doc. 23) at 3.) They are: Detective Kessler; Katrina Shorten (Hallman's ex-wife); Robyn Hallman (daughter); Ashlea Deener, Samantha Fant, and Kevin Boneberg, assistant district attorneys, Tarrant County, Texas; Delores Urzua, counselor, Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS); attorney Christy Jack; Theresa Fugate, Alliance for Children; Doctor Grism (physician); Terrikah Woodard (friend of Katrina Shorten); and John Peter Smith Hospital. (Suppl. Compl. (doc. 23) at 3-4.)

         Hallman recites that as of April 2016, he was arrested and detained in the Tarrant County jail and, by June 30, 2016, was indicted in case number 1451589 in Criminal District Court Number One, Tarrant County, Texas, for alleged injury to his daughter, Robyn Hallman. (Id. at 4-6.) Hallman alleges he “languished in the county jail for two-years and seven months before being acquitted by a jury” on September 20, 2018, on the charge pertaining to Robyn Hallman. (Id.) Hallman generally alleges a vast conspiracy of all of the above-named persons to retaliate against him, and he claims “the machinery of the law was put in operation against an innocent person.” (Id. at 5-6.)

         Hallman acknowledges, however, that while he was detained, the state filed additional charges, first as case number 1489585, and later amended as case numbers 1548957 and 1548964. (Id. at 6.) As noted above, Hallman provided copies of the charging indictments in case numbers 1451589D and 1489585D. (Doc. 14, at 23, 37.) The indictment in case 1451589D recites five counts of sexual activity with a child under seventeen years of age, who was identified as Robyn Hallman. (Id. at 23.) The indictment in case number 1489585D, however, recites seven different counts of sexual activity with a child under fourteen years of age, who was identified as Ava Hallman. (Id. at 37.) The second indictment was filed against Hallman on April 21, 2017, before he filed this suit. Id. Hallman acknowledges that both Robyn and Ava are his daughters.

         Hallman did not inform the Court of the resolution of the later case. Records as to which this Court may take judicial notice reveal that Hallman was convicted of several counts in case 1548964R. See Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)(2) and (c)(1) regarding the Court's authority to take judicial notice of facts from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. The offender information listing for Hallman in the records of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (“TDCJ”) reveals that Hallman was convicted in case 1548964R on September 20, 2018, of the following: two counts of aggravated assault on a child under fourteen years of age; three counts of indecency with a child by contact; and one count of sexual assault of a child under seventeen . See https://offender.tdcj.texas.gov/OffenderSearch/offenderDetail.act ion?sid=03617673. Also, the records of the Second Court of Appeals of Texas, case number 02-18-434-CR, show Hallman has filed an appeal from these six counts of conviction and life sentences. See https://search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=02-18-00434-CR&coa=coao2.

         III. SCREENING UNDER § 1915A and § 1915(e)(2)(B)

         As noted, because Hallman is a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, 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)(B). Both § 1915A(b) and § 1915(e)(2)(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.

         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); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, plaintiffs must allege facts sufficient to “raise the right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Neither mere “labels and conclusions” nor “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” suffice to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id.

         IV. ...


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