United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
LARRY E. EALY, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM G. KNOEBEL, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
William O. Bertelsman, United States District Judge.
E. Ealy is a resident of Muncie, Indiana. Ealy has filed a
pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. [R. 1] This matter is before the Court to
conduct the initial screening required by 28 U.S.C. §
complaint, Ealy indicates that in September 2018 he was
driving north through Gallatin County, Kentucky when he was
pulled over for speeding by an unnamed officer of the
Kentucky State Police. The officer then advised him that the
vehicle had been reported stolen in Ohio, and Ealy was
arrested for receiving stolen property. Ealy posted bail and
was released from custody three days later. In December 2018,
Ealy was charged with receiving stolen property. Ealy
contends the indictment obtained by William Knoebel, a
prosecutor in Gallatin County, was defective because it did
not set forth the information necessary to properly charge an
offense and because a proper investigation would have
revealed that he had legally purchased the vehicle. [R. 1 at
Page ID #1-3] Ealy makes no allegation regarding the
disposition of the criminal charges against him. However, the
Court takes judicial notice that as of this writing the
criminal charges against Ealy remain pending in the Circuit
Court of Gallatin County, Kentucky in Commonwealth v.
Ealy, No. 18-CR-00084 (Gallatin Cir. Ct.
these events Ealy asserts a wide variety of claims. He
asserts that the arresting officer lacked probable cause to
arrest him, did not obtain a warrant, and detained him for an
unreasonable amount of time. He also complains that excessive
bail was imposed in his criminal case. He further contends
that defendant Knoebel presented false information to the
grand jury in violation of the Fifth Amendment and violated
the “Bivens Act Unreasonable Use of Force Search and
Seizure” by obtaining an indictment without sufficient
evidence. He also purports to assert a claim under
“§14141” under which he appears to assert
that Knoebel prosecuted him as part of a pattern and practice
of race-based discrimination. Ealy also refers to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1985 but complains that his Sixth Amendment rights
were violated in the criminal case based upon the same
allegedly false statements to the grand jury and the
assertedly insufficient indictment. Ealy purports to assert a
claim that Knoebel contributed to jail overcrowding contrary
to “HB 463”; violated “Senate Bill (H.R.
5682) First Step Act”; and violated the Thirteenth
Amendment's prohibition against slavery by presenting
false evidence to the grand jury. [R. 1 at Page ID #4-7]
noted above, the criminal charges against Ealy remain
pending. In Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971),
the United States Supreme Court held that federal courts
should not exercise jurisdiction over civil matters in any
fashion that would interfere with ongoing state criminal
prosecutions absent truly extraordinary circumstances.
Id. at 44. The rule is “designed to permit
state courts to try state cases free from interference by
federal courts, particularly where the party to the federal
case may fully litigate his claim before the state
court.” Zalman v. Armstrong, 802 F.2d 199, 205
(6th Cir. 1986). Accordingly, the Court would be required to
decline to exercise jurisdiction over any claims related to
the presence of probable cause, false arrest or imprisonment,
the validity of the grand jury proceedings, the sufficiency
of the indictment, and malicious prosecution out of concern
with possible interference with pending criminal proceedings.
Of course, if Ealy is ultimately convicted of the criminal
charges about which he complains, Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994) will present a bar to many of his claims.
abstention is not necessary here because Ealy's complaint
is subject to dismissal on several other grounds. First,
while Ealy complains of the arresting officer's conduct
in several respects, he did not name him as a defendant in
the complaint, and such claims must be dismissed. Second,
Ealy complains that throughout the criminal proceedings,
prosecutor Knoebel violated his constitutional rights by
making false statements to the grand jury, filing a
legally-insufficient indictment, and essentially engaging in
racial profiling. But even if wrongful or discriminatory, all
of the actions about which Ealy complains were undertaken by
Knoebel “within the scope of his duties in initiating
and pursuing a criminal prosecution.” Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 410 (1976). Accordingly, he
enjoys absolute quasi-judicial immunity for them, even when
they involve the solicitation or presentation of false
testimony or improper discrimination. Adams v.
Hanson, 656 F.3d 397, 401-03 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing
Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 269 (1993)).
reference to “§ 14141” is likely intended to
refer to the law enforcement misconduct statute, since
re-codified at 34 U.S.C. § 12601. But that provision
vests enforcement authority exclusively with the United
States Attorney General, and he may not assert a private
right of action under it. 34 U.S.C. § 12601(b); Awah
v. Bd. of Educ. of Balt. Cty., No. WMN-09-CV-1044, 2010
WL 1929908, at *2 (D.Md. May 11, 2010). Ealy also refers to
“HB 463” and the First Step Act, but neither
applies to him nor provides a private cause of action. The
former is Kentucky law which enacted reforms regarding
rehabilitation programs available to Kentucky inmates and
probation supervision; the latter effected changes to federal
sentencing and prison programming. But Ealy is neither a
state nor a federal prisoner; he is a pretrial detainee.
Because Ealy's complaint does not state any viable claims
against prosecutor Knoebel as the sole defendant, it must be
the Court takes judicial notice that Ealy has an extensive
history of frivolous and abusive litigation in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and
the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The
former imposed filing restrictions against Ealy in 2009 after
he filed dozens of lawsuits against state and local
officials, and thereafter expanded his range to include state
and federal judges. In that Court Ealy is required to obtain
prior permission from the Court before filing any new
lawsuit. See Ohio v. Ealy, No. 1: 09-CV-245 (S.D.
Ohio Apr. 24, 2009). After restrictions were imposed, Ealy
began attempting to circumvent them by using an alias and
filing suits in district courts in other states, including
Indiana, Mississippi, and elsewhere. Those courts promptly
responded by transferring his complaint to the proper venue,
dismissing his claims, and/or imposing filing restrictions of
their own. See Ealy v. Dlott, No. 1:
15-CV-669-TWP-DKL (S.D. Ind. May 7, 2015); Olakwesu Elbey
v. State of Ohio, No. 3: 10-CV-141-DPJ-FKB (S.D.Miss.
Aug. 26, 2010); Ealy v. United States, No. 1:
14-CV-1218-EDK (Ct. Fed.Cl. Apr. 30, 2015). The Court also
notes that Ealy has been advised in earlier decisions that
some of the claims he sets forth in his present complaint are
simply not viable, cf. Ealy v. Toey, No. 1:
15-CV-545-GLR (D. Md. March 18, 2016), but he continues to
assert them in template complaints he has filed in this and
other actions, cf. Ealy v. Marcelain, No. 2:
19-CV-826-GCS-KAJ (S.D. Ohio March 7, 2019). The Court need
not consider the imposition of sanctions at this juncture in
light of its disposition of this case, but will not hesitate
to do so should Ealy's conduct warrant it in the future.
it is ORDERED as follows:
1. Ealy's complaint [R. 1] is DISMISSED,
2. The Court will enter an appropriate judgment.
3. This matter is STRICKEN from the active