United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT
William T. Lawrence, Judge United States
plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
[dkt. 2] is denied as presented. The plaintiff shall have
through September 22, 2016, in which to either pay the
$400.00 filing fee for this action or demonstrate that he
lacks the financial ability to do so. If he seeks leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, his request must be
accompanied by a certificate of his inmate trust account (or
institutional equivalent) during the 6-month period preceding
the filing of the complaint on August 19, 2016.
the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(h), this Court has an obligation under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A to screen his complaint and must dismiss
the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state
a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. In determining
whether the complaint states a claim, the Court applies the
same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom
v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To
survive dismissal under federal pleadings standards,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se
complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are construed
liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch,
517 F.3d 489, 491 n. 2 (7th Cir. 2008). Nonetheless,
“[p]ro se litigants are masters of their own complaints
and may choose who to sue-or not to sue, ” Myles v.
United States, 416 F.3d 551, 552 (7th Cir. 2005), and
the Court may not rewrite a complaint to include claims that
were not presented. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d
1128 (10th Cir. 1999); Small v. Endicott,
998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993).
plaintiff's federal claim is brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. A cause of action is provided by 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against “[e]very person who, under
color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or
usage, of any State or Territory, . . . subjects, or causes
to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other
person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws” of the United States. Section
1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; instead,
it is a means for vindicating federal rights conferred
elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94
(1989) (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144
n.3 (1979)). The initial step in any § 1983 analysis is
to identify the specific constitutional right which was
allegedly violated. Id. at 394; Kernats v.
O'Sullivan, 35 F.3d 1171, 1175 (7th Cir. 1994);
see also Gossmeyer v. McDonald, 128 F.3d 481, 489-90
(7th Cir. 1997). Here, the plaintiff's alleges the
defendant, Scott Circuit Court Judge James Kleopfer, found
him guilty of a Class A felony burglary despite knowing the
plaintiff did not commit the crime.
he alleges, is a violation of the Sixth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiff seeks monetary relief.
plaintiff's claim arises out of events associated with
his prosecution and conviction by an Indiana state court. The
defendants are Scott Circuit Court Judge James Kleopfer and
Scott Circuit Court employee Roger Duvall.
It is a
well-established principle that judges are immune from civil
suits arising out of the exercise of their judicial function.
See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9 (1991). Judicial
immunity can only be overcome in two circumstances: (1) when
the actions were not taken in the judge's official
capacity; or (2) if the action is taken in complete lack of
jurisdiction. Id. at 11-12. In the instant action,
the complaint challenges the plaintiff's state court
criminal conviction for a Class A felony. The administration
of a state criminal proceeding is completely within the scope
of a judge's official capacity. Therefore, Judge James
Kleopfer is immune from this suit.
the plaintiff is challenging the validity of his conviction.
This would impugn the validity of his continued confinement,
which in turn triggers the rule of Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994). Where “success in a . . . [42
U.S.C. §] 1983 damages action would implicitly question
the validity of conviction or duration of sentence, the
litigant must first achieve favorable termination of his
available state, or federal habeas, opportunities to
challenge the underlying conviction or sentence.”
Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 751 (2004) (citing
to Heck). “[U]nder Heck, a § 1983 claim for
damages is not cognizable (i.e. does not accrue) if a
judgment in favor of the plaintiff on that claim ‘would
necessarily imply the invalidity of [the plaintiff's]
conviction or sentence.'" Snodderly v. ...