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Dickerson v. Duncan

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

January 7, 2020

CAMERON D. DICKERSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
RANDAL J. DUNCAN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Cameron D. Dickerson, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint on behalf of himself and the Progressive National Committee against numerous individuals including the Republican National Committee, a Virginia General District Court Judge, and officials working for the Montgomery County, Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney Office and the Montgomery County, Virginia Sheriff's Office. This matter is currently before the court on Dickerson's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Although the court grants the motion, for the following reasons, the court concludes that the complaint must be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Background

         Dickerson states that he is the Chairman of the Progressive National Committee, a political action committee ("PAC"), registered with the Federal Election Commission.[1] In sum, Dickerson alleges that the Defendants "interfer[ed] in [his] election activities," and those of his PAC, and "intentionally forced" him to miss election deadlines, as well as "intentionally conspir[ing] to discredit, defame and distress" him.

         Dickerson alleges that, on April 15, 2019, the Montgomery County Sheriff "made a terroristic threat," which Dickerson reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on May 7, 2019. Thereafter, Dickerson claims that on May 10, 2019, Sheriffs deputies came "beating on" his door, falsely claiming to have a search warrant. He does not describe any other action by the deputies, including whether they entered his residence.

         In mid-May 2019, Dickerson was "considering running for Sheriff," and also "launching" his campaign for a congressional seat in Virginia. Dickerson alleges that a "Republican Judge ... pushed" Dickerson's initial arraignment for one week, which forced Dickerson to miss the Democratic Party nomination for Sheriff of Montgomery County. Dickerson alleges that this delay occurred after the current "Republican Sheriff of Montgomery County purportedly "used a jail snitch" to learn from Dickerson whether he planned to run for Sheriff and, if so, with which political party he would be running.

         Dickerson further alleges that in July 2019, the judge overseeing his arraignment and members of the "Republican controlled Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Office" worked together to "create a fake capias"[2] using a "letter of libel" created by other alleged Republicans. Dickerson describes this effort as "an attempt to discredit, deter and defame [his] character and livelihood, putting him in jail again for another month." "Working with" a doctor, these same Defendants "manufactured libel: slander and committed perjury recorded in Circuit Court on October 15, 2019," which kept "him in jail again for another month."

         Finally, Dickerson alleges that on November 25, 2019, the Montgomery County Sheriff "chased" him after speaking at a "Board of Supervisors Meeting" in a Montgomery County Government Center. According to Dickerson, the Sheriff and his deputies were "yelling and acting erratic," and the Sheriff had his deputies "put hands" on Dickerson while he purportedly attempted to speak with Democratic colleagues. Dickerson does not describe any physical injuries that arose from this incident, or any other form of physical contact.

         He seeks $100, 000, 000 in damages due in part to a $50, 000, 000 fundraising shortfall allegedly caused by the Defendants, as well as punitive damages arising from "mental anguish" and other psychological injuries.

         Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), which governs in forma pauperis proceedings, courts have "a duty to screen initial filings." Eriline Co. v. Johnson, 440 F.3d 648, 656-57 (4th Cir. 2006). Courts "shall dismiss at any time" a complaint that is "frivolous" or "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). A court may dismiss a claim as factually frivolous where the facts alleged are "clearly baseless," a category encompassing allegations that are "fanciful," "fantastic," and "delusional." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325-28 (1989). "As those words suggest, a finding of factual frivolousness is appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

         In reviewing a complaint for dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), courts apply the same standard used to review a motion for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003). Federal courts must construe pro se pleadings liberally. See, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nevertheless, "[p]rinciples requiring generous construction of pro se complaints are not. .. without limits." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). Like all plaintiffs, a pro se plaintiff must "demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully," and "articulate facts that, when accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling him to relief." Hodge v. Gansler, 547 Fed.Appx. 209, 210 (4th Cir. 2013) (quotation marks omitted).

         Discussion

         Dickerson purports to bring claims under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, [3] as well as 18 U.S.C. ยง 245 related to Defendants "[i]ntimidat[ing] [a] [c]andidate for [e]lected [o]ffice." ECF Nos. 2 & 2-1. Dickerson also ...


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