United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a
complaint and amendment thereto filed by Darren Smiley, an
inmate confined at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in
Bessemer, Alabama. Smiley names Jeannie Gibson, the Circuit
Clerk for Crenshaw County, as the defendant. For relief,
Smiley requests Gibson be directed to enter in his favor a
request for a default judgment he filed a state court action
and that he be compensated $100, 000. Doc. 1.
review, the court concludes that this case is due to be
dismissed prior to service of process in accordance with the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Circuit Clerk Jeannie Gibson
complains Gibson breached a duty by failing to enter a
default judgment in a district court case in which the
opposing party had failed to defend the suit. According to
the complaint, Smiley mailed his request for default judgment
on July 18, 2018, to the Crenshaw County Clerk's Office,
with postage paid, and Gibson failed to make entry of default
“immediately after it had been served with the
material.” Doc. 1. In an amendment to the complaint,
Smiley alleges Gibson did not give him notice that the
pleading was not simple, concise, or direct and provided no
notice that the state court denied the averments he made in
his motion for default judgment. Smiley further alleges
Gibson failed to notify him by mail “as to the date of
the rendering of the demand of judgment by default” and
made no recording of a motion made by the court setting aside
the entry of default judgment. Doc. 8.
claims against Gibson based on her alleged failure to file a
motion in a state court case is barred by quasi-judicial
immunity. Quasi-judicial immunity extends to those servants
and agents who facilitate the judicial process. Rodriguez
v. Weprin, 116 F.3d 62, 66 (2d Cir.1997) (extending
judicial immunity to clerks of the court for tasks which are
judicial in nature and an integral part of the judicial
process or for administrative functions undertaken pursuant
to explicit direction of a judicial officer or pursuant to
established practice of the court); Jenkins v. Clerk of
Court, U.S. Dist. Court, So. Dist. of Fla., 150 Fed.
App'x 988, 990 (11th Cir. 2005)) (finding that a court
clerk who acts under authority granted by state law and who
acts on behalf of a court entitled to absolutely immune from
damages liability when sued under § 1983 because she is
performing a judicial function). The conduct alleged by
Smiley against Gibson falls within the scope of the Clerk of
Court duties which are an integral part of the judicial
process. It is inherent that “[c]ourt clerks enjoy a
narrower ambit of immunity than judges.” Hyland v.
Kolhage, 267 Fed. App'x 836, 842 (11th Cir. 2008)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, as
explained, “[n]onjudicial officials have absolute
immunity for their duties that are integrally related to the
judicial process.” Scott v. Dixon, 720 F.2d
1542 (11th Cir. 1983); see also Smith v. Erickson,
884 F.2d 1108, 1111 (8th Cir. 1989) (holding that filing of
documents by clerk is integral part of judicial process and
protected by judicial immunity).
action about which Smiley complains stems from the asserted
failure of the Circuit Court Clerk for Crenshaw County to
file his motion for default judgment. Whether or not to file
a motion or enter a request for default judgment falls within
the parameter of matters integral to the judicial process and
are not solely an administrative function. Because
“[these] actions constitute an integral part of the
judicial process  [Gibson's] actions are protected by
judicial immunity.” Erazo v. Macon-Bibb County
Juvenile Court, et al., 2017 WL 1854687, *4 (M.D. Ga.,
May 8, 2017); Essell v. Carter, 450 Fed. App'x
691, 691 (9th Cir. 2011) (finding clerk of court immune from
suit for failing to respond to pro se
plaintiff's letters and failing to file various motions
and appeals); In re Castillo, 297 F.3d 940, 951 (9th
Cir. 2002) (finding clerk of court is immune from suit for
failure to give notice of hearing); Coulter v.
Roddy, 463 Fed. App'x. 610, 611 (9th Cir. 2012)
(finding court clerk immune for allegedly directing deputy
clerks to refuse to file forms presented by a pro se
litigant seeking dismissal of a civil action). Further, even
if the actions about which Smiley complains constitute
negligence, a claim of negligence is not cognizable in a
§ 1983 action. See Daniels v. Williams, 474
U.S. 327, 328 (1986).
extent Smiley's complaint is in the nature of a writ of
mandamus, see 28 U.S.C. § 1361, the law is settled that
federal district courts have original jurisdiction of any
action in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or
employee of the United States or one of its agencies to
perform a duty owed to a Smiley. Federal courts, however, are
without jurisdiction to issue writs compelling action by
state courts and officials in the performance of their
duties. Davis v. Lansing, 851 F.2d 72, 74 (2d Cir.
1988); Russell v. Knight, 488 F.2d 96, 97 (5th Cir.
1973); Gurley v. Superior Court of Mecklenburg
County, 411 F.2d 586, 587 (4th Cir. 1969). Thus, this
federal district court has no mandamus jurisdiction over the
Defendant state employee and cannot compel her to act in
performance of her job duties. For the foregoing reasons, the
complaint against Defendant Gibson is subject to dismissal
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) & (iii). See
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
it is the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that
Plaintiff's complaint against Defendant Jeannie Gibson be
DISMISED with prejudice prior to service of process under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) & (iii).
that on or before October 30, 2018,
Plaintiff may file an objection to the Recommendation.
Plaintiff must specifically identify the factual findings and
legal conclusions in the Recommendation to which objection is
made. Frivolous, ...