United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
EDWARD M. HAMPTON, Plaintiff,
DAVID MATTHEW ZENT, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
A. BRADY JUDGE
M. Hampton, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Allen County Superior
Judge David Matthew Zent and Prosecutor Ashely Rene Fifield
alleging they violated his federal and state constitutional
rights in order to convict him and sentence him to 15 years
in prison. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must
review the complaint and dismiss it if the action is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. The court applies
the same standard as when deciding a motion to dismiss under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v.
Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive
dismissal, a complaint must state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. Bissessur v. Indiana Univ. Bd. of
Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). “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.” Id. at 603. Nevertheless, a pro
se complaint must be liberally construed “however
inartfully pleaded.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
alleges that the defendants have violated his federal and
state constitutional rights because they have impeded his
efforts to challenge his conviction and sentence. ECF 1 at
2-4. In his complaint, he alleges Judge Zent improperly
denied his post-conviction motions to correct errors in his
proceedings and to vacate his conviction and sentence due to
prosecutorial misconduct. Id. at 2-3. Hampton
further claims that Prosecutor Fifield knowingly and
intentionally used false evidence and perjured testimony to
convict him. Id. at 3.
42 U.S.C. § 1983, Hampton cannot sue the defendants he
has named in his complaint. With respect to Judge Zent, he is
immune from suit because “[a] judge has absolute
immunity for any judicial actions unless the judge acted in
absence of all jurisdiction.” Polzin v. Gage,
636 F.3d 834, 838 (7th Cir. 2011). “A judge will not be
deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error,
was done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority;
rather, he will be subject to liability only when he has
acted in the clear absence of all jurisdiction.”
Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359 (1978). Because
the doctrine of judicial immunity applies, Hampton cannot
proceed on his claim against Judge Zent.
has also sued Prosecutor Fifield. She likewise is immune from
suit. “[I]n initiating a prosecution and in presenting
the State's case, the prosecutor is immune from a civil
suit for damages under § 1983.” Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976). Absolute immunity
shields prosecutors even if they act maliciously,
unreasonably, without probable cause, or even on the basis of
false testimony or evidence. Smith v. Power, 346
F.3d 740, 742 (7th Cir. 2003). Because the doctrine of
prosecutorial immunity applies, Hampton cannot proceed on a
claim against Prosecutor Fifield.
extent Hampton is challenging his confinement and seeking
release from prison, “habeas corpus is the exclusive
remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or
duration of his confinement . . ..” Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994). While this court
expresses no opinion on whether Hampton should file a habeas
petition, to the extent he is seeking relief only available
through a habeas petition, he needs to file a habeas petition
in a separate case. The clerk will send him a blank
conviction habeas form and in forma pauperis form for his
use, if he decides to file a habeas petition challenging his
it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the opportunity
to file an amended complaint when a case is dismissed sua
sponte, see Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014
(7th Cir. 2013), that is unnecessary where the amendment
would be futile. Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs., 588
F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[C]ourts have broad
discretion to deny leave to amend where . . . the amendment
would be futile.”). Such is the case here. No.
amendment would change the fact that Hampton has sued the
defendants that cannot be liable to him under 42 U.S.C.
these reasons, the court:
DISMISSES this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
because the complaint does not state a claim; and
DIRECTS the clerk to send Edward M. Hampton a blank habeas
corpus petition, AO-241 (Rev. 1/15) (Conviction, INND Rev.