United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CHARLES S. COODY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
U.S.C. §1983 action is pending before the court on a
complaint filed by Mike Pritchett, an indigent state inmate
currently serving a three year sentence for trafficking in
marijuana imposed upon him on June 7, 2018 by the Circuit
Court of Dale County, Alabama. In his complaint, Pritchett
challenges the constitutionality of a search of his home and
property and his attendant arrest on July 14, 2015. Doc. 1 at
4. Pritchett also attacks the constitutionality of the
criminal proceedings related to his 2018 trafficking
conviction. Doc. 1 at 4. Finally, Pritchett seeks relief under
18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242 for an alleged conspiracy
among the defendants. Doc. 1 at 2-4. Pritchett names William
H. Filmore, the judge who presided over his state criminal
proceedings; Thomas Kirke Adams, the District Attorney for
Dale County; Lee Franklin Knowles and David J. Harrison, his
court-appointed attorneys; Anthony Phillips, Scotty Ballard
and Mark Anderson, law enforcement officials involved in the
investigation of his case; the City of Enterprise, Alabama as
it oversees the Enterprise Police Department and Dale County,
Alabama due to its employment of Judge Filmore and District
Attorney Adams. Pritchett seeks a declaratory judgment and
monetary damages for the alleged violations of his
constitutional rights. Doc. 1 at 5.
thorough review of the complaint, the undersigned 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)(i), (ii) and (iii).
Claim for Relief Under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and
extent Pritchett seeks relief for alleged criminal actions
purportedly committed by the defendants in violation of his
constitutional rights as prohibited by 18 U.S.C. §§
241 and 242, Doc. 1 at 2-4, he is entitled to no relief.
“Title 18 U.S.C. § 241 is a statute that
criminalizes conspiracies against a person's rights under
the Constitution or laws of the United States. There is no
private right of action under this criminal statute. Title 18
U.S.C. § 242 makes it a crime to willfully deprive
persons under color of law of their rights under the
Constitution or laws of the United States. The statute does
not create a private cause of action.” Gipson v.
Callahan, 18 F.Supp.2d 662, 668 (W.D.Tex 1997) (internal
citations omitted); Rockefeller v. United States Court of
Appeals Office for Tenth Circuit Judges, 248 F.Supp.2d
17, 23 (D.D.C 2003) (finding that the plaintiff is foreclosed
“from asserting claims pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§§ 242 and 371 because, as criminal statutes, they
do not convey a private right of action. . . . Therefore, the
Court must dismiss the plaintiff's claims that have been
brought pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 242 and
371.”). In light of the foregoing, it is clear that
Pritchett is precluded from obtaining relief under 18 U.S.C.
§§ 241 and 242 “because, as criminal
statutes, they do not convey a private right of action”
nor do they authorize an individual to initiate criminal
proceedings. Gipson, 18 F.Supp.2d at 668;
Rockefeller, 248 F.Supp.2d at 23.
Search and Arrest
Pritchett challenges the constitutionality of a search and
his resulting arrest which occurred on July 14, 2015.
Specifically, Pritchett alleges law enforcement officials
searched his property and arrested him without a warrant or
probable cause. Doc. 1 at 4. Any claims related to the search
and Pritchett's arrest on July 14, 2015 are barred by the
statute of limitations applicable to a federal civil action
filed by an inmate under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
All constitutional claims brought under § 1983 are tort
actions, subject to the statute of limitations governing
personal injury actions in the state where the § 1983
action has been brought. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S.
261, 275-76, 105 S.Ct. 1938, 1946-47, 85 L.Ed.2d 254 (1985).
[The plaintiff's] claim was brought in Alabama where the
governing limitations period is two years. Ala. Code §
6-2-38; Jones v. Preuit & Mauldin, 876 F.2d
1480, 1483 (11th Cir. 1989) (en banc). Therefore, in order to
have his claim heard, [the plaintiff is] required to bring it
within two years from the date the limitations period began
McNair v. Allen, 515 F.3d 1168, 1173 (11th Cir.
search and arrest about which Pritchett complains occurred on
July 14, 2015. By its express terms, the tolling provision of
Ala. Code § 6-2-8(a) affords no relief to
Pritchett from application of the time bar. The statute of
limitations applicable to Pritchett's illegal search and
arrest claims therefore began to run on July 15,
2015. The limitations period ran uninterrupted
until its expiration on July 17, 2017. Pritchett filed
the instant complaint on January 7, 2019. Thus, the filing of
this civil action occurred well after expiration of the
applicable period of limitations.
the statute of limitations is usually a matter which is
raised as an affirmative defense. The court notes, however,
that when a plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis in
a civil action it may sua sponte consider
affirmative defenses that are apparent from the face of the
complaint. Clark v. Georgia Pardons and Parole
Board, 915 F.2d 636, 640 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990); see
also Ali v. Higgs, 892 F.2d 438 (5th Cir. 1990).
“[I]f the district court sees that an affirmative
defense would defeat the action, a section 1915[(e)(2)(B)(i)]
dismissal is allowed.” Clark, 915 F.2d at 640.
“The expiration of the statute of limitations is an
affirmative defense the existence of which warrants dismissal
as frivolous.” Id. at n.2 (citing Franklin
v. State of Oregon, 563 F.Supp. 1310, 1330, 1332 (D.C.
analyzing § 1983 cases, “the court is authorized
to test the proceeding for frivolousness or maliciousness
even before service of process or before the filing of the
answer.” Ali, 892 F.2d at 440. “It
necessarily follows that in the absence of the defendant or