United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
KEVIN D. HAMLET, Plaintiff,
CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, CITY CORPORATION OF MARION COUNTY, HELEN MARCHAL Marion County Superior Court Judge, TERRY R. CURRY Marion County Prosecutor, DUANE MERCHANT Marion Co. Dep. Prosecutor, ABIGAIL GRANTSTEIN former Dep. Pros., MARION COUNTY PUBLIC DEFENDER'S OFFICE, CELESTE JAFFE Public Defender, JANET PYKE Marion County Court Reporter, Defendants.
ENTRY GRANTING IN FORMA PAUPERIS STATUS, SCREENING
AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT, AND ALLOWING PLAINTIFF TO SHOW
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.
D. Hamlet, an Indiana inmate incarcerated in the Putnamville
Correctional Facility, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action on December 19, 2017. He wishes to sue the City of
Indianapolis, Marion County, a Superior Court judge, the
county prosecutor, two deputy prosecutors, the public
defender's office, a deputy public defender, and a court
reporter for their conduct in his state court prosecution.
In Forma Pauperis Status
Hamlet's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, dkt. , is granted. The
assessment of even an initial partial filing fee is not
feasible at this time. “All [28 U.S.C.] § 1915 has
ever done is excuse pre-payment of the docket fees;
a litigant remains liable for them, and for other costs,
although poverty may make collection impossible.”
Abdul-Wadood v. Nathan, 91 F.3d 1023, 1025 (7th Cir.
Mr. Hamlet is a prisoner, his complaint is subject to the
screening requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This
statute directs that the court shall dismiss a complaint or
any claim within a complaint which “(1) is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” Id. To satisfy the
notice-pleading standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, a complaint must provide a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, ” which is sufficient to provide
the defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and
its basis. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007) (per curiam) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Wade v. Hopper, 993
F.2d 1246, 1249 (7th Cir. 1993) (noting that the main purpose
of Rule 8 is rooted in fair notice: a complaint “must
be presented with intelligibility sufficient for a court or
opposing party to understand whether a valid claim is alleged
and if so what it is.”) (quotation omitted)). The
complaint “must actually suggest that the plaintiff has
a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Windy
City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin.
Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir.
2008)). The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally, and
holds pro se pleadings to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v.
Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
Hamlet was arrested by Indianapolis police on June 22, 2016.
He was charged with a felony offense and taken before a
judge. He was appointed a public defender. Eventually Mr.
Hamlet plead guilty to the criminal charge and was sentenced
to prison. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief and
received an evidentiary hearing. A transcript of the plea
hearing was obtained, but Mr. Hamlet contends it was altered
by the court reporter. At the time he filed this action, he
asserts that the state trial court had ninety days to rule on
his post-conviction case, but has gone sixty days past that
paraphrase Mr. Hamlet's claims, he seeks damages for (1)
wrongful imprisonment because “one or more
defendants” knew that Mr. Hamlet's conviction was
obtained through deceit and coercion and they failed to
intervene; (2) “one or more defendants” failed to
intervene and allowed the prosecution to go forward while
prosecutors denied Mr. Hamlet access to exculpatory evidence;
(3) defense counsel and prosecutors, and “one or more
defendants” denied Mr. Hamlet due process of law when
he was not allowed effective representation of counsel, a
fair trial, evidence, and hearings; (4) being coerced into an
involuntary plea, which he calls an “illegal
seizure;” (5) the City and County, as
“persons” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, willfully
and wantonly provided inadequate representation to
defendants, forced them into involuntary plea agreements,
maliciously prosecuted them, and denied them exculpatory
evidence; and (6) conspiracy to violate Mr. Hamlet's
constitutional rights. He also adds several state law claims
which do not need discussion here.
Mr. Hamlet's claims flow from his June 22, 2016, arrest
by Indianapolis police and his prosecution in Marion County
Superior Court. Dkt. 2, p. 1. He identifies the case as
State v. Hamlett, No. 49G15-1606-F6-024163 (Marion
Cnty., Ind. Superior Ct., filed June 23, 2016). Mr. Hamlet
also pleads that he was coerced to plead guilty and judgment
was entered on August 11, 2016. Since that time he has been
trying to vacate the conviction through post-conviction
relief efforts and appeals. He complains that the defendant
judge is overdue with a ruling on his post-conviction case.
Mr. Hamlet believes the constitutional claims, noted above,
warrant monetary damages and a declaratory judgment. He does
not specify what the declaratory judgment should cover.
addressing the judicial and quasi-judicial immunities held by
defendants, and the failure to state cognizable claims, the
determinative issue is whether plaintiff can proceed in light
of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Any relief
on any of his federal constitutional claims calls into
question the validity of his state court conviction. That
conviction remains in effect.
a state prisoner seeks damages in a [42 U.S.C.] § 1983
suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in
favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity
of his conviction or sentence. . . .” Heck,
512 U.S. at 487. A Section 1983 action will be cognizable
only after a plaintiff can show that “the conviction or
sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by
executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such determination, or called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus . . . .” 512 U.S. at 487. Mr. Hamlet
cannot do that yet. He pleads that he is still engaged in
collateral attacks on the conviction, and even complains that
the state court judge is late with his ruling. This Court
takes judicial notice that according to the State of
Indiana's online ...