United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
HARRIS TOLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Special Order
3, this case was referred to the United States
magistrate judge for pretrial management, including making
findings and a recommended disposition. The Court granted
Plaintiff Roberto Martinez's motion to proceed in
forma pauperis, but did not issue process
pending preliminary screening. Upon review of the relevant
pleadings and applicable law, this case should be summarily
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as frivolous and
for failure to state a claim.
February 4, 2019, Plaintiff Roberto Martinez, a state
prisoner, filed his pro se complaint against Dallas
County Sheriff Detective Resendiz and Parole Officer Willis,
alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Doc. 3 at 4. The complaint is inartfully pled and difficult
to decipher. Martinez alleges violations of his rights under
the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, stemming from
his arrest on August 22, 2017, the ensuing prosecution, and
his conviction for failure to comply with sex offender
registration requirements. Doc. 3 at 4- 5; State
v. Martinez, No. F17-18761-K (Crim. Dist. Court No. 4,
Dallas Cty., Dec. 19, 2017).He claims false arrest and
malicious prosecution, arguing that he was purposefully
“assigned fugitive status” and that an arrest
warrant was subsequently issued. Doc. 3 at 5, 15; Doc. 10 at
2. He also avers that both Resendiz and Willis presented
perjured testimony at his December 19, 2017 trial. Doc. 3 at
15, 17. Martinez asserts that “Resendiz deliberately
misleadingly made false statements of noncompliance with
conditions of release, ” with Willis acting as a
“direct accomplice, ” and that, as a result,
“there was no evidence presented” to support his
conviction. Doc. 3 at 15, 17. Martinez requests that the
Court grant “redress of grievances, ” damages,
attorney's fees and court costs. Doc. 3 at 5.
Answers to Magistrate Judge's Questionnaire,
Martinez reiterates that Resendiz “selfish[ly],
recklessly, negligent[ly] assumed parole official
jurisdiction, called [Martinez's] landlord and
disapproved [his address]…, used evidence in an unfair
manner ad assigned [him] fugitive status, initiated criminal
proceeding[s]… disregard[ed] the procedural due
process requirement [of the U.S. Constitution]… [and]
told the court that [Martinez] was not in compliance with
conditions of release.” Doc. 10 at 2.
Furthermore, he contends that Willis “committed
perjury” at trial. Doc. 10 at 3.
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, his
complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Those statutes
provide for the sua sponte dismissal of a complaint
if the Court finds that it (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2)
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
(3) 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 complaint 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 can be granted if it does not
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Court must always liberally construe pleadings filed by
pro se litigants. See Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (noting pro se pleadings
“must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers”); Cf. Fed.
R. Civ. P. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so
as to do justice.”). Even under this most liberal
construction, however, Martinez's claims are frivolous.
seeks monetary damages and declaratory relief for his false
arrest, malicious prosecution, and subsequent conviction in
No. F17-18761-K. However, while Martinez alleges a multitude
of wrongdoings by Defendants and others in connection with
his arrest, detention, and criminal conviction, the doctrine
espoused in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994),
bars any challenge to Martinez's state conviction under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Heck, the United States
Supreme Court unequivocally held:
In 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 § 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 determination, or called
into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Id. at 486-487 (footnote omitted). Without the
threshold showing, a claim for damages “would
necessarily imply the invalidity of [the prisoner's]
conviction” in the criminal proceeding, thus, is simply
“not cognizable under § 1983.”
Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. The Heck doctrine
also applies to claims for declaratory and injunctive relief.
Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005).
ruling in Martinez's favor on the claims pled
“would necessarily imply the invalidity of his
conviction” in No. F17-18761-K. Heck, 512 U.S.
at 487. “[F]alse-arrest and malicious-prosecution
claims challenge the existence of probable cause and, thus,
by their essence are [also] collateral attacks on a criminal
judgment's validity.” Cormier v. Lafayette
City-Par. Consol. Gov't, 493 Fed.Appx. 578, 583 (5th
Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (citing Wells v. Bonner, 45
F.3d 90, 94-96 (5th Cir. 1995). Consequently, they “run
afoul of Heck's ‘policy of
finality'” just like a Section 1983 claim
directly challenging Martinez's underlying conviction.
Cormier, 493 Fed.Appx. at 583 (quoting Connors
v. Graves, 538 F.3d 373, 377-78 (5th Cir. 2008));
Ducksworth v. Rook, 647 Fed.Appx. 383, 386-87 (5th
Cir. 2016) (per curiam) (applying Heck to bar the
plaintiff's claim for false arrest for crimes for which
he was ultimately convicted “because his convictions
necessarily imply that there was probable cause for his
concedes that no court has reversed or invalidated his 2017
conviction, Doc. 10 at 5; thus, his false
imprisonment and malicious prosecution claims as well as the
claims challenging his 2017 conviction-sufficiency of the
evidence, perjury, and purported Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendment violations-are clearly barred by
Heck. As such, Martinez's claims lack any
basis in law and should be dismissed with prejudice as
frivolous until such time as Plaintiff satisfies the
conditions set forth in Heck. See
Hamilton v. Lyons, 74 F.3d 99, 102 (5th Cir. 1996)
(Heck-barred claim is legally frivolous).
addition, Martinez and Willis are absolutely immune from
claims arising from testimony given at any trial or
adversarial proceeding. SeeMoffett v.
Bryant,751 F.3d 323, 326 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Rehberg v. Paulk,566 U.S. 356, 367 (2012)
(“[A] trial witness has absolute immunity with respect
to any claim based on the witness'
testimony.”); see alsoPropes v.
Wolf,178 Fed.Appx. 388, 389 (5th Cir. 2006) (per
curiam) (citing Enlow v. Tishomingo County, Miss.,962 F.2d 501, ...