United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
JEFFREY A. PLEASANT, Plaintiff,
TRACY THORNE-BEGLAND, et al., Defendants.
E. Payne Senior United States District Judge.
A. Pleasant, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, has filed this 42 U.S.C. §
1983 action.The matter is before the Court for
evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") this
Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the
Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous" or
(2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. The first standard includes claims based upon
'''an indisputably meritless legal theory,
'" or claims where the
'''factual contentions are clearly
baseless.'" Clay v. Yates, 809 P. Supp.
417, 427 (E.D. Va. 1992) (quoting Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). The second standard
is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C.
v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A
Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are taken as true
and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d
1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980
F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual
allegations, however, and ''a court considering a
motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying
pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions,
are not entitled to the assumption of truth."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require [ ] only
'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to
'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (second
alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this
standard with complaints containing only "labels and
conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations
omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient
"to raise a right to relief above the speculative level,
" id. (citation omitted), stating a claim that
is "plausible on its face, " id. at 570,
rather than merely "conceivable." Id.
"A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order
for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to
state a claim, the plaintiff must "allege facts
sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her
claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours &
Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing
Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th
Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270,
281 (4th Cir. 2002)) . Lastly, while the Court liberally
construes pro se complaints, Gordon v.
Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it will not
act as the inmate's advocate and develop, sua
sponte, statutory and constitutional claims that the
inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint.
See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243 (4th Cir.
1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS
Complaint, Pleasant has named the following individuals as
Defendants: Shannon L. Taylor, Commonwealth's Attorney
for Richmond, Virginia; Tracy Thome-Begland, Chief Deputy
Commonwealth's Attorney for Richmond, Virginia; Ali J.
Amirshahi, a court-appointed attorney; and Judge Margaret
Spencer of the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond,
Virginia. (Compl. ¶¶ 7-11, ECF No.
The Court provides the following summary of Pleasant's
January 24, 2000, Pleasant was "charged with committing
two robberies, two use of a firearm in the commission of
robberies and two counts of possession of a firearm by a
convicted felon." (Compl. ¶ 13.) These charges
"were documented as Case Nos. (CR00-362-F),
(CR00-363-F), (CR00-364-F) and (CR00-F-1026, CR00-F-1027),
(CR00-F-1028)." (Id.) On March 6, 2000,
Pleasant appeared in the General District Court for the City
of Richmond for a preliminary examination regarding
"Case Nos. (CR00-F-2016 through -1028)."
(Id. ¶ 15.) The General District Court
"certified the offenses to Circuit Court,
Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon L. Taylor did not
object." (Id.) On March 13, 2000, Pleasant
appeared in the Manchester General District Court for a
preliminary examination "for Case Nos. (CR00-362-F
through -364-F)." (Id; ¶ 16.) The General
District Court "certified the offenses to Circuit Court;
Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon L. Taylor did not
March 25, 2000, Pleasant was indicted in Chesterfield County,
Virginia. (Id. ¶ 17.) On August 1, 2000, in
Chesterfield County, Pleasant was "tried and convicted .
. . for one count of robbery and one count of use of a
firearm in the commission of a felony." (Id.
¶ 18.) The next day, "the sheriff of . . . Richmond
turned Pleasant over to the U.S. Marshals."
(Id. ¶ 19.) The Marshals brought Pleasant to
this Court, where he was informed "that he was about to
be arraigned on federal indictments handed down February 25,
2000." (Id.) Subsequently, Pleasant
"learned that he was being prosecuted for the exact same
state offenses, under 'Project Exile.'" (Id.
December 12, 2000, a federal jury "found Pleasant
guilty." (Id. ¶ 21.) On May 22, 2001, this
Court sentenced Pleasant to 622 months of incarceration.
(Id.) This Court indicated that the Circuit Court
for the City of Richmond had "dismissed the state
offenses on July 19, 2000." (Id. ¶ 22.)
many challenges to the state arrest, Pleasant discovered that
. . . the Circuit Court did not dismiss the offenses on July
19, 2000." (Id. ¶ 23.) On September 9,
2010, "Pleasant found that in order to maintain the
fraud that was committed, Commonwealth's Attorney Tracy
Thorne-Begland was willing to . say things in a Motion to
Vacate that were contradictory and false." (
Id. ¶ 24.) On March 14 and 19, 2013, Circuit Court
Judge Margaret Spencer "issued orders saying that the
state offenses were dismissed March 6, 2000." (Id.
¶ 25.) Pleasant asserts that Judge Spencer's
statement regarding the dismissal of the state charges was
fraudulently made. (Id.)
now claims "that he was treated differently than those
similarly situated pursuant to the initiation and furtherance
of the PROJECT EXILE law enforcement initiative."
(Id. ¶ 27.) The Court construes Pleasant's
Complaint to raise the following claims:
Claim One: Pleasant's rights to due process and equal
protection under the Fourteenth Amendment were
(a) Defendant Taylor "unilaterally withdrew case nos.
(CR00-362-F through -3 62-F) March 2, 2000, pursuant to the
furtherance of the Project Exile law enforcement initiative,
without informing Plaintiff that he would not be prosecuted
in state jurisdiction prior to the two preliminary
examinations March 6, and March 13, 2000." (Id.
(b) Defendant Thome-Begland "made false and
contradictory allegations in a Motion to Dismiss filed
September 9, 2010 . . . [by] plac[ing] on record the
presumption that all 6 offenses were heard in Richmond City
Circuit Court on March 6, 2000 and dismissed on July 19,