United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
KARSTEN G. KENNEDY, Plaintiff,
STATE OF TEXAS, ET AL., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MCBRYDE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
for consideration the amended complaint of plaintiff, Karsten
G. Kennedy. This action has been filed in forma
pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Inasmuch
as plaintiff is a prisoner, .the court reviews the complaint
to determine if it 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. 2 8
U.S.C. § 1915A.
amended complaint names two defendants, "Tarrant County,
Texas, Sheriff's Office" and "Tarrant County,
Prosecutors' Office." Doc. 8. In providing such
designations, it is unclear whether plaintiff intends to
bring suit against (i) the Tarrant County Sheriff's
Department and the Tarrant County Criminal District
Attorney's Office, (ii) Tarrant County, or (iii)
individual officials working for those entities. Regardless
of the intended defendants' identities, plaintiff's
amended complaint should be dismissed.
Department and Criminal District Attorney's Office
the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department nor the
'' Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's
Office is a proper defendant. A government entity's
capacity to be sued depends on whether it constitutes a
separate legal entity subject to suit under the. law of the
state in which the district court is held. See Darby v.
Pasadena Police Dept., 939 F.2d 311, 313 (5th Cir. 1991)
(citing Fed. R. Civ. P.. 17(b))..
Tarrant County Sheriff's Department "is a servient
political agency of Tarrant County." Hicks v.
Tarrant Cty, Sheriff S Pep't, , 352
Fed.Appx. 876, 878 (5th Cir. 2009) . Likewise, the Tarrant
County Criminal District Attorney's Office is a servient
entity to Tarrant County. See Barrie v. Nueces Cty. Dist.
Attorney's Office, 753 Fed.Appx. 260, 264 (5th Cir.
2018). Accordingly, a lawsuit against the Tarrant County
Sheriff's Department and the Tarrant County Criminal
District Attorney's Office cannot proceed absent a
showing that the state of Texas or an authorized political
subdivision has granted those entities the authority to be
sued. Id. Plaintiff has provided no such showing.
has not stated a claim against Tarrant County upon which
relief may be granted. Section 1983 does not allow a
governmental entity to be held vicariously liable for the
actions of its officers under a theory of respondeat
superior. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Bd. Of Cnty.
Comm'rs v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997). A
governmental entity may be liable under § 1983 if the
execution of one of its policies or customs deprives a
plaintiff of a constitutional right. Monell v. Dep't
of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). To hold a
county, liable under § 1983 thus requires the plaintiff
to "initially allege that an official policy or custom
was a cause in fact of the deprivation of rights
inflicted." Spiller v. Texas City Police
Dep't, 130 F.3d 162, 167 (5th Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
that requirement, a plaintiff must allege: "a
policymaker; an official policy; and a violation of
constitutional rights whose 'moving force' is the
policy or custom." Cox v. City of Dallas, 430
F.3d 734, 748 (5th Cir. 2005) (internal citations omitted);
Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 578
(5th Cir. 2001). Moreover, the description of a policy or
custom and its relationship to the underlying constitutional
violation "cannot be conclusory; it must contain
specific facts." Spiller, 130 F.3d at 167. The
general rule is that allegations of isolated incidents are
insufficient to establish a custom or policy. Fraire v.
City of Arlington, 957 F.2d 1268, 1278 (5th Cir. 1992).
amended complaint does not describe a Tarrant County policy
or custom. Plaintiff claims that prosecutors used incorrect
enhancements in plaintiff's two indictments, which led
prosecutors to make plea offers outside of the proper range.
Doc. 8. Plaintiff also asserts that prosecutors brought the
second charge as retaliation after he refused to plea as to
the first. Id. Although plaintiff claims that he is
"not the only one which this is happening to," he
also admits to the existence of "obvious policies in
place to safeguard" against the use of incorrect
enhancements and trial delays. Id. In fact,
plaintiff claims that prosecutors "are purposefully
disregarding" those "protective policies" and
"deviating from the norms" when taking the actions
alleged. Id. Plaintiff's claims allege isolated
incidents and not official policy or custom.
plaintiff has not alleged a violation of his constitutional
rights. Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to be
offered a favorable plea bargain. See Weatherford v.
Bursey, 429 U.S. 545, 560-61 (1977); Berry v.
Epps, 230 Fed.Appx. 386, 396-97 (5th Cir. 2007}.. Nor
does plaintiff have a constitutional right not to be charged
with a crime based on probable cause, even if the charge is
brought maliciously. See Castellano v. Fragozo, 352
F.3d 939, 945 (5th Cir. 2003). Because plaintiff has not
alleged a policy or custom that deprived him of his rights,
Tarrant County cannot be held liable under § 19 83.
alleges that Tarrant County Assistant District Attorneys
("ADAs") misapplied the enhancements and brought
the second charge. See Doc. 8. Plaintiff further
alleges that the Criminal District Attorney, the CDC4
Supervisory Prosecutor, and the Sheriff "permit"
the ADAs to “roam free" and "do as they
will." Id. If plaintiff is attempting to bring