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Balcar v. Jefferson County Judicial Dist.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

March 28, 2017



          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District Court.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a convicted prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 594 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons set forth below, the action will be dismissed.


         Plaintiff brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the “Jefferson County Judicial District”; the “Jefferson County District Attorney Office”; Judge Charles Cunningham of the Jefferson County Circuit Court, in both his official and individual capacities; an unnamed prosecutor from the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office;[1] Public Defender Erin Melchior; the “Jefferson County Detention or Jail”; and “Vititow Refrigeration Owner.” Plaintiff alleges that, in 2008, “Vititow Refrigeration” reported to the Laurel County (Kentucky) Attorney that Plaintiff had written “bad checks” to the company. Plaintiff further alleges that this case was “sent to the District Court and then sent to the Laurel County Grand Jury in Dec. of 2008, they vote for a no bill and charges was drop by the court.”

         Plaintiff alleges that Vititow Refrigeration then “filed a warrant in the Jefferson County District Attorney Office, Bad Checks Unit on 7-10-12, . . . about 4 years after the charges drop in London, Ky.” Plaintiff states: “This is a very clear case of Double Jeopardy by the Jefferson County Circuit Court and District Attorney of Jefferson County.” In the complaint, Plaintiff specifies that it was Brian Lowe, presumably the owner of Vititow Refrigeration whom Plaintiff sues, who brought the same charges against Plaintiff in two courts.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Louisville Public Defender Erin Melchior was appointed as his counsel for the case in Louisville. Plaintiff states that he told Defendant Melchior about the case in London (Laurel County) but that she refused to investigate this matter. Plaintiff also indicates that neither Defendant Judge Cunningham nor “the prosecutor” would consider his argument regarding the prior charges. Plaintiff suggests that, as a result, he was wrongfully incarcerated at the Defendant “Jefferson County Detention or Jail” from June 25, 2013, to December 4, 2014, and then placed with the Kentucky Department of Corrections.

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Vititow Refrigeration “lied to the District Attorney Office when they filed charges on [Plaintiff] on bad checks.” Plaintiff states that the checks he wrote to Vititow Refrigeration were “all post date” and that Vititow Refrigeration knew the money was not in Plaintiff's bank account at the time.[2]

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.


         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, this Court must review the instant action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the court determines that it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See § 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d at 608.

         “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, while liberal, this standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. See Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995). The court's duty “does not require [it] to conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Section 1983 creates no substantive rights but merely provides remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere. Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). “A plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Absent either element, a § 1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

         A. Defendants “Jefferson County Judicial District” & “Jefferson County ...

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