United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
ROBERT E. SAMPSON, Plaintiff,
HIGHLAND COUNTY VA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, et al., Defendants.
Glen E. Conrad, Chief United States District Judge
E. Sampson, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The matter is currently before the court
on the defendants' motions to dismiss and plaintiffs
motions for appointment of counsel and for a jury trial. For
the reasons stated, the Mayor of the City of Monterey and the
Highland County Board of Supervisors' motions will be
granted, Sheriff T.J. Duffs motion will be denied, the
plaintiffs motion to appoint counsel will be denied, and the
plaintiffs motion for a jury trial will be taken under
Robert E. Sampson ("Sampson"), was arrested on
March 17, 2015. On August 27, 2015, he filed a complaint
against TJ. Duff, the Highland County Sheriff ("Sheriff
Duff), the Mayor of the City of Monterey (the
"Mayor"), and the Highland County Board of
Supervisors (the "Board of Supervisors"). In his
original complaint, plaintiff alleged that he was falsely
arrested in violation of his constitutional rights guaranteed
by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. He further submitted
a letter stating that he did not have sufficient funds to
prepay the filing fee. The court construed the letter as an
application to proceed in forma pauperis and granted
the application. The court also dismissed the action as
frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
Sampson appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit remanded with
instructions to allow Sampson to file an amended complaint,
which Sampson did on July 27, 2016. In his original
complaint, Sampson alleged that Sheriff Duff arrested him on
a charge of felon in possession of a weapon after Sampson
reported a crime to the Sheriff. Sampson asserted that
Sheriff Duff had never seen Sampson with a firearm and had no
complaining witness. Sampson further pled that he, an
African-American, was treated differently than Caucasian
amended complaint, Sampson makes no allegations against the
Mayor and he does not reassert that he was treated
differently on the basis of his race. However, he pleads the
following facts: (1) that no witnesses brought forth the
charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm against
him; (2) that no one ever saw Sampson with a firearm; (3)
that Sheriff Duff falsely swore that he removed firearms from
Sampson's person; (4) that Sampson never handled
firearms; (5) that Sampson's fingerprints were not found
on any of the guns at trial; (6) that he was found not guilty
by a jury; (7) that Sheriff Duff "has Dated this
before"; and (8) that the Board of Supervisors hired
Sheriff Duff, a man with no experience as a public police
officer. Both Sampson's original and amended complaints
seek $1, 000, 000 in damages.
the defendants have submitted a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The
court notified plaintiff of defendants' motions to
dismiss as required by Roseboro v. Garrison, 528
F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). The plaintiff responded in
opposition and asked the court for a trial by jury and
appointment of counsel. The defendants' time to respond
to plaintiffs motions has passed. The motions are ripe for
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of the complaint." Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). When
reviewing a claim under this rule, the court must accept all
of the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Id.
at 244. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). "In other words, the factual
allegations (taken as true) must 'permit the court to
infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct.'" A Soc'y Without a Name v.
Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678).
document is filed pro se, it must be "liberally
construed." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). Accordingly, "a pro se complaint,
however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Id. Mindful of this principle, the court will
consider both the plaintiffs original and amended complaints
in addition to his response to the defendants' motions in
determining whether the plaintiffs allegations are
sufficient. See Davis v. Bacigalupi 711 F.Supp.2d
609, 615 (E.D. Va. 2010).
The Mayor and Highland County Board of Supervisors'
Motions to Dismiss
Sampson's original and amended complaints are devoid of a
single fact implicating the Mayor. Instead, the "Mayor
of Monterey" is simply named in the original complaint.
The Board of Supervisors is similarly implicated, but the
amended complaint does assert the additional fact that the
Board of Supervisors hired Sheriff Duff, an individual with
no law enforcement experience.
the court must liberally construe the pleadings of a pro
se plaintiff, this requirement need not extend to
outright advocacy. See Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir, 1978). The court is not required to
construct plaintiffs legal arguments for him, nor is it
required to divine the point Sampson seeks to make. See
Lee v. Johnson, 793 F.Supp.2d 798, 801 (W.D. Va.
2011). Because not a single fact ...