United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiff Montgomery's
Amended Complaint. (Doc. 5). The court granted Mr.
Montgomery's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
(doc. 3), which allowed him to file his claims in this court
without paying the requisite filing fee. However, the court
has an obligation to review sua sponte the merits of
in forma pauperis matters.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a court must dismiss a case
at any time, notwithstanding filing fees, if “the
action or appeal is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a
claim on which relief can be granted; or seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” A frivolous claim “lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact . . . [and] embraces not only
the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful
factual allegation.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
the court is required to show leniency to a pro se
plaintiff's pleadings, his complaint is still
“subject to the relevant law and rules of court,
including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”
Moon v. Newsome, 863 F.2d 835, 837 (11th Cir. 1989).
Pro se complaints must “comply with the
procedural rules that govern pleadings.” Beckwith
v. Bellsouth Telecomms. Inc., 146 Fed.Appx. 368, 371
(11th Cir. 2005). Under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, a plaintiff must plead more “than labels and
conclusions . . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii), a court must dismiss a
claim by a plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis if
the complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted or if the complaint seeks monetary relief from an
Montgomery, in his Amended Complaint, lodges various
allegations against Defendant Richard Minor, St. Clair County
District Attorney. Among the allegations are that Mr. Minor
“has effected a return to the debtors' prisons of
old by his unconstitutional practice, policy and custom of
illegally incarcerating [Mr. Montgomery] for failure to pay
fines, court costs or restitution.” (Doc. 5 at 1). He
also urges that District Attorney Minor violated Mr.
Montgomery's rights under the Sixth, Eighth, Thirteenth,
and Fourteenth Amendments.
the court gleans from Mr. Montgomery's complaint that he
was imprisoned for failure to pay fines, court costs and
“some $22, 000 plus in restitution” resulting
from a state court criminal action against him
(Id.). Mr. Montgomery's probation was revoked
and he was sent to Kilby Prison. (Id. at 3). He
alleges Mr. Minor “arrested and detained” him
because he was unable to pay court fines and costs in full on
the day of his sentencing. (Id. at 6).
Thus, Mr. Montgomery argues that Mr. Minor violated the
Constitution by arresting him for being “too poor to
pay court costs and fines in full on the date the fines,
court costs, and restitution were demanded.”
(Id. at 7).
providing Mr. Montgomery the leniency required for pro
se litigants, and despite evaluating his complaint in
the light most favorable to him, the court determines that he
has not alleged a plausible cause of action for which relief
can be granted. Mr. Montgomery seeks monetary damages from
Mr. Minor in his individual and official capacities, and
declaratory and injunctive relief against Mr. Minor in his
official capacity. However, the law is well settled that
prosecutors are granted absolute immunity from suit for
claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
absolute immunity, which Mr. Minor enjoys because he is a St.
Clair County District Attorney, “extends to a
prosecutor's acts undertaken in preparing for the
initiation of judicial proceeding or for trial, and which
occur in the course of his role as an advocate for the
state.” Hart v. Hodges, 587 F.3d 1288, 1295
(11th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Absolute
immunity is broad in scope, and protects prosecutors from
lawsuits like Mr. Montgomery's. For example, in
Hart the Eleventh Circuit explained that absolute
immunity covers prosecutorial acts such as “filing an
information without investigation, filing charges without
jurisdiction, filing a baseless detainer, offering perjured
testimony, suppressing exculpatory evidence, refusing to
investigate . . . complaints about the prison system, [and ]
threatening . . . further criminal prosecutions . . .
.” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting
Henzel v. Gerstein, 608 F.2d 654, 657 (5th Cir.
Minor undertook the actions forming the basis of Mr.
Montgomery's lawsuit in Mr. Minor's role as a St.
Clair County prosecutor. Therefore, the court finds that the
doctrine of absolute immunity shields Mr. Minor from Mr.
Montgomery's claims, and this case is due to be dismissed
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a
claim for ...