United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
DANIEL H. JONES, Plaintiff,
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, et al., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE
Daniel H. Jones is an inmate currently confined in the Turney
Center Industrial Complex located in Only, Tennessee. Jones
has filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [R. 1] and a motion to waive payment
of the filing and administrative fees. [R. 3] The information
contained in Jones's fee motion indicates that he lacks
sufficient assets or income to pay the $350.00 filing fee.
[R. 4] Because Jones has been granted pauper status in this
proceeding, the $50.00 administrative fee is waived. District
Court Miscellaneous Fee Schedule, § 14.
Court must conduct a preliminary review of Jones's
complaint because he has been granted permission to pay the
filing fee in installments and because he asserts claims
against government officials. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2), 1915A. A district court must dismiss any claim
that 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. Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). When
testing the sufficiency of Jones's complaint, the Court
affords it a forgiving construction, accepting as true all
non-conclusory factual allegations and liberally construing
its legal claims in the plaintiff's favor. Davis v.
Prison Health Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th Cir.
complaint, Jones names as Defendants the Commonwealth of
Kentucky, Harlan County Circuit Judge Kent Hendrickson, and
“Justices Acree, Nickell, Venters, Wright, Cunningham
and Hughes” of the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the
Kentucky Supreme Court. [R. 1] Although his allegations are
not entirely clear, he generally claims violations of his
“state and U.S. constitutional rights involving each
defendants' act of gross-negligence as to a statutory
need in protecting the plaintiff's best interest, seeking
both immediate and permanent injunction, as well as a
declaratory judgment with monetary compensation for the
injuries sustained.” [R. 1 at p. 1] He also references
his rights under the Constitution of the State of Tennessee.
[Id. at p. 2]
majority of Jones's complaint generally accuses the
defendants of gross negligence, acting with callous
indifference and malicious intent, willfully violating
legislation, and acting unprofessionally, without indicating
the specific factual basis for these allegations. However,
from what the Court is able to ascertain, it appears that
Jones tendered a civil complaint to the Harlan Circuit Court
in July 2017 “requesting, inter alia, a
declaration of rights regarding a crucial piece of evidence;
[doc. A-1], clearly negating his guilt involving a crime of
rape. Here, plaintiff's indicia overwhelmingly shows a
deliberate omission by the Commonwealth in neglecting this
crucial evidence which ‘could have' exculpated him
in preventing a conviction and sentence to a term of Life w/o
Parole.” [Id. at p. 5]. Although it is not
entirely clear, Jones's allegations suggest that his
requests for relief were denied by the Harlan Circuit Court,
as well as on appeal by the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the
Kentucky Supreme Court. [Id. at p. 5-6]. Jones also
indicates that, because of Defendants' actions,
Tennessee's TBI Agency has retained him on its Sex
Offenders Registry. [Id. at p. 6] As relief, he
seeks a declaration by this Court that Jones's due
process rights have been violated, an injunction, and
monetary damages. [Id. at p. 7-8]
complaint must set forth sufficient allegations to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). The Court has an obligation to liberally construe a
complaint filed by a person proceeding without counsel, but
it has no authority to create arguments or claims that the
plaintiff has not made. Coleman v. Shoney's,
Inc., 79 Fed.Appx. 155, 157 (6th Cir. 2003) (“Pro
se parties must still brief the issues advanced with some
effort at developed argumentation.”). In addition, a
federal district court has the authority to dismiss any
complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) “when the
allegations of a complaint are totally implausible,
attenuated, unsubstantial, frivolous, devoid of merit, or no
longer open to discussion.” Apple v. Glenn,
183 F.3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Hagans v.
Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536 (1974)).
Jones's complaint must be dismissed for failure to state
a claim for which relief may be granted. First, Jones's
complaint does not comply with Federal Rule of Procedure 8
because it does not contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to
relief” and fails to include allegations that are
“simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), (d)(1). Indeed, the majority of Jones's
complaint simply labels defendants' actions as
“grossly negligent, ” “willful, ”
“malicious, ” and “unprofessional, ”
without providing any factual allegations supporting such
conclusions. Vague allegations that one or more of the
defendants acted wrongfully or violated the plaintiff's
constitutional rights are not sufficient. Laster v.
Pramstaller, No. 08-CV-10898, 2008 WL 1901250, at *2
(E.D. Mich. April 25, 2008).
Jones's complaint seeks to assert civil rights claims
against the Commonwealth of Kentucky and various state judges
based on decisions and rulings made during the course of
civil proceedings. However, Jones's claims against the
Commonwealth of Kentucky are be barred by sovereign immunity,
see Sefa v. Kentucky, 510 Fed.Appx. 435, 437 (6th
Cir. 2013). In addition, Jones's claims against the
individual judges are clearly barred by judicial immunity.
have long been entitled to absolute judicial immunity from
tort claims arising out of their performance of functions
integral to the judicial process. Pierson v. Ray,
386 U.S. 547, 553-55 (1967). Indeed, “judicial immunity
is not overcome by allegations of bad faith or
malice...” Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11
(1991). Here, the judicial conduct alleged by Jones falls
squarely within the individual judge's respective roles
as trial and appellate judges. See Huffer v. Bogen,
503 Fed.Appx. 455, 459 (6th Cir. 2012)(“[T]he factors
determining whether an act by a judge is a
‘judicial' one relate to the nature of the act
itself, i.e., whether it is a function normally
performed by a judge, and to the expectations of the parties,
i.e., whether they dealt with the judge in his
judicial capacity.”)(quoting Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 362 (1978)). Thus, each of the
individual judges named as defendants are entitled to
absolute judicial immunity against Jones's claims.
of the foregoing reasons, Jones's complaint fails to
state a claim for which relief may be granted and will be
it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
Jones's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [R. 3] is GRANTED and payment
of the filing and administrative fees is
Jones's complaint [R. 1] is DISMISSED.
pending requests for relief, including Jones's Motion for
Issuance of ...