United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
RICKY G. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
ROBERT O'HARA, et al, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION (DISMISSING WITH PREJUDICE 42
U.S.C. § 1983 ACTION)
E. HUDSON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
G. Davis, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauper is, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. By Memorandum Order entered on June 21, 2019, the
Court directed Davis to file a particularized complaint
within fourteen (14) days of the date of entry thereof..
After receiving an extension, Davis filed his Particularized
Complaint. (ECF No. 14.) 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 also
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The first standard includes claims
premised upon "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 analyzed under the familiar requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P.
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 5 A
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, 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). 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 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); see also Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS
alleges that Southampton County Circuit Court Judge Robert
O'Hara, Commonwealth's Attorney Eric A. Cooke, and
Circuit Court Clerk Richard L. Francis violated his Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendments by refusing to allow Davis to represent
himself during his revocation proceedings. Davis demands $15,
000 in monetary damages, and a "reparative
injunction" of ordering a new revocation hearing. (Part.
Compl. ¶ 19.) It is both unnecessary and inappropriate
to engage in an extended discussion of the lack of merit of
Davis'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))). Davis's
Particularized Complaint will be dismissed for failing to
state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
and as legally frivolous.
Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Immunity
faults Defendant O'Hara for refusing to allow him to
represent himself pro se during his revocation
hearing. However, judges are absolutely immune from suits
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. 3:09CV012, 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 [or she] took was in error, was done
maliciously, or was in excess of his [or her] authority
...." Stump, 435 U.S. at 356. This immunity
extends to magistrates in Virginia. Pressly v.
Gregory, 831 F.2d 514, 517 (4th Cir. 1987) (citation
omitted) (noting that "[a]s judicial officers,
magistrates are entitled to absolute immunity for acts
performed in their judicial capacity"). Only two
exceptions apply to judicial immunity: (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) (citations
omitted). Neither exception applies in this instance.
fails to allege facts that plausibly suggest that Defendant
O'Hara's refusal to allow Davis to represent himself,
was a nonjudicial action or that Defendant O'Hara actions
were taken in complete absence of all jurisdiction. Thus,
Defendant O'Hara is entitled to absolute immunity.
Davis's claims against Defendant O'Hara will be
dismissed as legally frivolous and for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.
also contends that, Defendant Francis, the Clerk of the
Circuit Court, conspired with the judge and prosecutor to
deny Davis his right to self-representation. Judicial
immunity also applies to quasi-judicial officers acting
pursuant to court directives. See Butler v. Johnson,
No. 1:07cvl 196 (GBL/TRJ), 2007 WL 4376135, at *3 (E.D. Va.
Dec. 12, 2007) (citing Lockhart v. Hoenstine, 411
F.2d 455 (3d Cir. 1969)). "Quasi-judicial" immunity
shields court officers from "the danger that
disappointed litigants, blocked by the doctrine of absolute
immunity from suing the judge directly, will vent their wrath
on clerks, court reporters, and other judicial adjuncts
...." Kincaid v. Vail, 969 F.2d 594, 601 (7th
Cir. 1992) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks
omitted); see McCray, 456 F.2d at 5 n.11 (holding
that clerks have "derivative immunity" when they
act under the direction of the court). Clerks are entitled to
quasi-judicial immunity when they perform "judicial
act[s]... having an integral relationship with the judicial
process." Wymore v. Green, 245 Fed.Appx. 780,
783 (10th Cir. 2007) (alteration in original) (citation
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).
contends that Defendant Francis "would not provide the
plaintiff with the Virginia Supreme Court document needed to
endorse a valid waiver" presumably, of his right to
counsel. (Part. Compl. ¶ 16.) Davis fails to allege
facts that indicate that Defendant Francis was performing
anything other than a judicial act when he allegedly failure
to provide Davis with a form. Accordingly, Davis's claims
against Defendant ...