United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division
CHRISTOPHER A. WAGNER, Plaintiff,
TODD E. HARRIS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
C. HANKS JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Christopher A. Wagner (#65237) is incarcerated at the
Chambers County Jail. He has filed a complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights
and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. Because this case is governed by the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), the Court is
required to scrutinize the pleadings and dismiss the
complaint in whole or in part if it is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. After reviewing the pleadings (Dkt.
8, Dkt. 23) as required, the Court concludes that this case
must be DISMISSED for the reasons that
Wagner is a pretrial detainee in the Chambers County Jail.
Publicly available online records from Chambers County
reflect that that Wagner was indicted for evading arrest or
detention with a motor vehicle under Texas Penal Code §
38.04(b)(2)(A) and that pretrial proceedings are ongoing.
See Case Information for State of Texas v.
Christopher Asher Wagner, No. 19DCR0124, 344th District
Court for Chambers County (available at
Portal/Home/Dashboard/29) (last visited Aug. 30, 2019).
Wagner is represented by court appointed counsel
(id.). Currently, docket call is set for September
18, 2019, at 9:00 a.m (id.).
pleadings bring claims arising from his criminal proceedings,
including claims against multiple law enforcement and
judicial officials in connection with the pending charges
against him for evading arrest or detention. See
Dkt. 8, Dkt. 23. He claims that law enforcement officers have
failed to verify evidence that would free him, that the
presiding judge has failed to hear the case, and that the
judicial clerk has failed to properly file documents, among
other claims. He seeks relief in the form of a “proper
investigation of [his] claim” and “immediate
release,” in addition to restitution (Dkt. 8, at 18;
Dkt. 23, at 5).
recently filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which
was docketed as a separate case, Civil Action No. 3:18-0294.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
required by the PLRA, the Court screens this case to
determine whether the action 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 such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing the
pleadings, the Court is mindful of the fact that Plaintiff
proceeds pro se. Complaints filed by pro se
litigants are entitled to a liberal construction and,
“however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Even
under this lenient standard a pro se plaintiff must
allege more than “‘labels and conclusions’
or a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)); see Patrick v.
Wal-Mart, Inc., 681 F.3d 614, 617 (5th Cir. 2012).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation
omitted). Additionally, regardless of how well-pleaded the
factual allegations may be, they must demonstrate that the
plaintiff is entitled to relief under a valid legal theory.
See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989);
McCormick v. Stalder, 105 F.3d 1059, 1061 (5th Cir.
brings this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging various
misdeeds by law enforcement and judicial officials during a
pending criminal prosecution against him in the 344th
District Court of Chambers County. This Court will abstain
from exercising jurisdiction over his claims because of the
ongoing state proceedings.
doctrine originating with Younger v. Harris, 401
U.S. 37 (1971), federal courts must abstain from enjoining a
pending state proceeding. See Sprint Commc’ns, Inc.
v. Jacobs, 134 S. Ct. 584, 593 (2013); Google, Inc.
v. Hood, 822 F.3d 212, 223 (5th Cir. 2016).
Younger abstention applies in three
“exceptional categories” of state proceedings:
ongoing state criminal prosecutions; certain civil
enforcement proceedings akin to criminal prosecutions, and
“pending civil proceedings . . . . uniquely in
furtherance of the state courts’ ability to perform
their judicial functions.” Sprint, 134 S. Ct.
at 591 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). When
a case falls into these categories, the court potentially
invoking Younger considers “whether there is
(1) an ongoing state judicial proceeding, which (2)
implicates important state interests, and (3) provides an
adequate opportunity to raise federal challenges.”
Google, 822 F.3d at 222 (internal citations,
quotation marks, and alteration omitted).
case, abstention is appropriate because state judicial
proceedings are ongoing. See Case Information for
State of Texas v. Christopher Asher Wagner, No.
19DCR0124, 344th District Court for Chambers County
(last visited Aug. 30, 2019). These proceedings implicate
Texas’s important interests in enforcement of its
criminal laws. See RTM Media, L.L.C. v City of
Houston, 584 F.3d 220, 228 & n.11 (5th Cir. 2009).
Moreover, the state court proceedings provide an adequate
forum to raise any federal challenges Wagner brings in this
suit, including due process claims. See Google, 822
F.3d at 222.
request for injunctive relief will be denied under