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Jones v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

August 6, 2014

OWAIIAN M. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL., Defendants.

Owaiian M. Jones, Pro Se Plaintiff.

OPINION

JAMES P. JONES, District Judge.

Plaintiff Owaiian M. Jones, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a civil action against the United States and a judge of this court, seeking monetary damages for the judge's allegedly racist views and refusal to recuse himself from Jones' cases. Given the nature of Jones' claims, the court construed and docketed the action as a complaint under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), with jurisdiction vested under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. After review of the complaint, I conclude that the lawsuit must be summarily dismissed as frivolous.

The court must dismiss any action or claim filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer if the court determines the action or claim is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). An inmate's complaint may be summarily dismissed under this section if it fails to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A "frivolous" claim is one that "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 327 (1989) (interpreting "frivolous" in former version of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)).

An individual may bring a civil suit against a federal officer for damages stemming from a constitutional violation.[1] Bivens, 403 U.S. at 392. Judges, however, enjoy absolute immunity against civil claims for monetary damages for actions taken in their judicial functions. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 364 (1978). The well established purpose of absolute immunity is "to insulate the decisionmaking process from the harassment of prospective litigation." Westfall v. Erwin, 484 U.S. 292, 295 (1988) (superseded by statute on other grounds).

My statutory authority to summarily dismiss frivolous complaints includes "the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless" or which describe "fantastic or delusional scenarios." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28. Jones' claims in this lawsuit fall squarely in this class and accordingly I will summarily dismiss the action under § 1915A(b)(1) as frivolous.

A separate Final Order will be entered herewith.


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