United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a
complaint filed by Clinton James Pearson, Jr., on October 21,
2017. Pearson is an indigent Alabama inmate currently
incarcerated at the William E. Donaldson Correctional
Facility on concurrent life sentences for three first degree
robbery convictions imposed upon him by the Circuit Court of
Montgomery, Alabama on March 3, 1997. See Pearson v.
Bullard, et al., 2:02-CV-924-WHA-SRW (M.D. Ala.
complains that during his 1997 state criminal proceedings the
trial court failed to refer him for an out-patient mental
health evaluation. Doc. 1 at 3. Pearson also challenges (1)
the jurisdiction of the trial court to impose judgment and
sentence upon him for his three robbery convictions, (2) the
sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions,
(3) the representation provided by trial counsel.
Id. Pearson names John Hartley, his trial counsel;
Ellen Brooks, the District Attorney at the time of his
convictions; and the Attorney General for the State of
Alabama as defendants. He seeks acquittal on the robbery
convictions and monetary damages. Id. at 4.
review of the complaint, the court concludes that dismissal
of this case prior to service of process is appropriate under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii) and
Attorney John Hartley
alleges that his trial counsel, John Hartley, violated his
constitutional right to effective representation during the
state criminal proceedings when Hartley did not obtain an
out-patient mental health evaluation for him and failed to
challenge the jurisdiction of the trial court to render
judgment and impose sentence. Doc. No. 1 at 3. In accordance
with applicable federal law, these allegations entitle
Pearson to no relief from this court under 42 U.S.C. §
essential element of a § 1983 action is that a person
acting under color of state law committed the asserted
constitutional deprivation. American Manufacturers
Mutual Ins. Company v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40,
119 S.Ct. 977, 985, 143 L.Ed.2d 130 (1999); Willis v.
University Health Services, Inc., 993 F.2d 837, 840
(11th Cir. 1993).
To state a [viable] claim for relief in an action brought
under § 1983, [a plaintiff] must establish that [he was]
deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, and that the alleged deprivation was
committed under color of state law. . . . [T]he
under-color-of-state-law element of § 1983 excludes from
its reach “‘merely private conduct, no matter how
discriminatory or wrongful, '” Blum v.
Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1002, 102 S.Ct. 2777, 73 L.Ed.2d
534 (1982) (quoting Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1,
13, 68 S.Ct. 836, 92 L.Ed. 1161 (1948))… .
[Consequently, ] state action requires
both an alleged constitutional
deprivation “caused by the exercise of some right or
privilege created by the State or by a rule of conduct
imposed by the State or by a person for whom the State is
responsible, ” and that
“the party charged with the deprivation must be a
person who may fairly be said to be a state actor.”
Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 102
S.Ct. 2744, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982); see Flagg Bros., Inc.
v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 156, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 56 L.Ed.2d
American Manufacturers, 526 U.S. at 49-50, 119 S.Ct.
at 985 (footnote omitted) (emphasis in original).
is well-settled that an attorney who represents an individual
does not act under color of state law. Polk County v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981); Mills v. Criminal
District Court No. 3, 837 F.2d 677, 679 (5th Cir. 1988)
(“[P]rivate attorneys, even court-appointed attorneys,
are not official state actors and … are not subject to
suit under section 1983.”). Since the conduct about
which Pearson complains was not committed by a person acting
under color of state law, the claims presented against
defendant Hartley lack an arguable basis in law and are
therefore subject to summary dismissal as frivolous in
accordance with the directives of 28 U.S.C. §
District Attorney Ellen Brooks and the Attorney
prosecutor is entitled to absolute immunity for all actions
he [or she] takes while performing his function as an
advocate for the government.” Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993); Jones v.
Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1281 (11th Cir. 1999) (“A
prosecutor enjoys absolute immunity from allegations stemming
from the prosecutor's function as advocate.”);
Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335, 342 (2009)
(In a § 1983 action, “the immunity that the law
grants prosecutors [for actions intimately associated with
initiation, prosecution and punishment in a criminal case] is
‘absolute.'”); Imbler v. Pachtman,
424 U.S. 409, 420 (1976) (“[A] prosecutor enjoys
absolute immunity from § 1983 suits for damages when he
acts within the scope of his prosecutorial duties.”);
Rowe v. Fort Lauderdale, 279 F.3d 1271, 1279 (11th
Cir. 2002) (“A prosecutor is entitled to absolute
immunity for all actions he takes while performing his
function as an advocate for the government.”). The
absolute immunity afforded prosecutors protects against
“impair[ing] the performance of a central actor in the
judicial process.” Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S.
335, 343 (1986). Absolute immunity from ...