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Tullis v. Valeska

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division

June 18, 2015

D.A. DOUGLAS A. VALESKA, et al., Defendants.


CHARLES S. COODY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at the Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint on February 2, 2015, against District Attorney Douglas Valeska, Assistant District Attorney Andy Robinson, and Assistant District Attorney Kristen Shields.[1] Plaintiff alleges that rights, privileges, or immunities afforded her under the Constitution or laws of the United States were abridged due to the conduct and actions of Defendants regarding her state criminal court proceedings. Plaintiff requests that Defendants be terminated, reprimanded, or punished for failing to properly handle the prosecution of her criminal case. Upon review, the court concludes that dismissal prior to service of process is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).[2]


Plaintiff alleges the following against the named defendants:

D.A. Douglas A. Valeska has been harassing Tullis since 1990. The charges that he help Tullis to be indicted of attempted murder was conspired with the help of false perjury statements from State witnesses to the Grand Jury and he knew this was perjury did nothing to intervene. Allowed his team of prosecutors to go forward with this charge and his conspiracy scheme.

Doc. No. 1 at 3.

A. Claims Barred by the Statute of Limitations

Plaintiff' was convicted of attempted murder in the Circuit Court for Houston County, Alabama, and sentenced on September 21, 2011, to a twenty-seven year term of imprisonment.[3] To the extent Plaintiff seeks to challenge the legality of Defendants' conduct and or actions during the associated criminal court proceedings, the complaint is barred by the statute of limitations applicable to actions filed by an inmate under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Federal courts must look to state law to determine, first, what statute of limitations is applicable, and second, whether that limitations period is tolled. Whitson v. Baker, 755 F.2d 1406, 1409 (11th Cir. 1985). Selection of a limitations period for § 1983 actions changed several times [between 1985 and 1989]. Alabama law, however, provides that the applicable limitations period is the one in effect when the claim is filed, not when the cause of action arose. Tyson v. Johns Manville Sales Corp., 399 So.2d 263, 269-70 (Ala. 1981). It is undisputed that § 1983 claims were subject to a two year limitations period at that time. See Jones v. Preuit & Mauldin, 876 F.2d 1480, 1483-84 (11th Cir. 1989) (Jones II).

Dukes v. Smitherman, 32 F.3d 535, 537 (11th Cir. 1994). When Plaintiff filed the instant complaint, the statute of limitations for actions brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was two years. Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-250 (1989)(the proper statute of limitations for § 1983 actions is the forum state's general or residual statute of limitations for personal injury actions); see also Lufkin v. McCallum, 956 F.2d 1104, 1105 (11th Cir. 1992). In Alabama, the general statute of limitations for personal injury actions is two years. Ala. Code § 6-2-38(l).

Although the state statute of limitations applies, the time of accrual is a federal question. See Cox v. Stanton, 529 F.2d 47, 49-50 (4th Cir. 1975). The running of the statute of limitations begins when Plaintiff knows or has reason to know of her injury. Id.

Here, Plaintiff should have known of her injury on or about September 21, 2011, when she was convicted and/or sentenced for attempted murder. Because Plaintiff failed to file the instant complaint until over two years after this time, the statute of limitations now bars consideration of her claim. This claim is, therefore, subject to dismissal as frivolous under the directives of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). See Clark v. Georgia Pardons and Parole Board, 915 F.2d 636, 640 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990) (in an action proceeding under § 1983, the court may consider, sua sponte, affirmative defenses apparent from the face of the complaint); see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989).

B. The Named Defendants

Even if Plaintiff could demonstrate that her claims against Defendants Valeska, Robinson, and Shields are not barred by the statute of limitations, her complaint against these defendants would be subject to dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (iii). Plaintiff's challenge to these defendants' conduct in ...

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