United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (DISMISSING 42 U.S.C. § 1983
E. HUDSON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bullock, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, 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 F.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 Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
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 plaintiffs 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, 1 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.'" BellAtl. 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).
matter proceeds on Bullock's Particularized Complaint
("Complaint," ECF No. 15.) As background, in January
2017, Bullock was convicted in the Richmond City Circuit
Court of being a felon in possession of a firearm, use of a
firearm second offense, and malicious wounding.
Commonwealth v. Bullock, Nos. CR15F03934-00,
CR15F04982-00, CR15F04983-00 (Va. Cir. Ct. Jan. 6,
2017). In his Complaint, Bullock alleges that the
named Defendants discriminated against him and violated his
various constitutional rights during his criminal
proceedings. (Compl. 10-13). Among other claims, Bullock
alleges violations of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. (Id. at
13.) Bullock requests that the Court grant him "relief
of $75, 000, 000 on [his] class action claims," and
"$40, 000, 000 on [his] individual claims."
order to state a viable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of
state law deprived him or her of a constitutional right or of
a right conferred by a law of the United States. See Dowe
v. Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, 145
F.3d 653, 658 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983).
It is both unnecessary and inappropriate to engage in an
extended discussion of Bullock's theories for relief.
See Cochran v. Morris, 73 F.3d 1310, 1315 (4th Cir.
1996) (emphasizing that "abbreviated treatment" is
consistent with Congress's vision for the disposition of
frivolous or "insubstantial claims" (citing
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989))).
Ultimately, Bullock's Complaint will be dismissed for
failing to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) and as legally frivolous.
are absolutely immune from suit under § 1983 for acts
committed within their judicial discretion. Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355-56 (1978). "Absolute
judicial immunity exists 'because it is recognized that
judicial officers in whom discretion is entrusted must be
able to exercise discretion vigorously and effectively,
without apprehension that they will be subjected to
burdensome and vexatious litigation.'" Lesane v.
Spencer, No. 3;O9CVOI2, 2009 WL 4730716, at *2 (E.D. Va.
Dec. 3, 2009) (citations omitted) (quoting McCray v.
Maryland, 456 F.2d 1, 3 (4th Cir. 1972), overruled
on other grounds, Pink v. Lester, 52 F.3d 73, 77 (4th
Cir. 1995)). A judge is entitled to immunity even if
"the action he took was in error, was done maliciously,
or was in excess of his authority" Stump, 435
U.S. at 356. Only two exceptions to absolute judicial
immunity exist: (1) nonjudicial actions; and (2) those
actions "though judicial in nature, taken in complete
absence of all jurisdiction." Mireles v. Waco,
502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991) (citation omitted). Neither
exception applies in this case.
contends that Judge Jeter-Taylor and Judge Roberts violated
his due process rights. (Compl. 2, 5.) Specifically, Bullock
contends that Judge Roberts held a preliminary hearing
without Bullock being present and that he "was convicted
in [Judge Jeter-Taylor's] courtroom and the victim ...
didn't testify ... which is a violation of [his] due
process rights." (Id. at 2, 5.) Bullock alleges
that as a result, he was "wrongfully convicted by Judge
Taylor." (Id. at 3.) Bullock fails to allege
that Judge Jeter-Taylor and Judge Robert's conduct falls
under either exception to judicial immunity. Bullock does not
allege that their conduct amounted to a non-judicial action
or that any of these Defendants acted in the complete absence
of all jurisdiction. Because Judge Jeter-Taylor and Judge
Roberts are entitled to judicial immunity, Bullock's
claims against them will be dismissed.