United States District Court, D. New Mexico
DARREN L. JAMES, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Defendants.
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED
GREGORY B. WORMUTH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss. Doc. 8. For the reasons discussed below, I
recommend that the Court grant Defendants' motion and
dismiss this action.
2013, Defendant Andrea Reeb was employed as an Assistant
District Attorney for the Ninth Judicial District
Attorney's Office and prosecuted Plaintiff in three
methamphetamine-trafficking cases. Doc. 1 at 1-3;
doc. 8 at 3; doc. 8-1 at 1. On October 2,
2013, Plaintiff pled guilty to all three charges pursuant to
a plea agreement, which was signed by Plaintiff,
Plaintiff's attorney, and Defendant Reeb. Doc. 8
at 3; doc. 8-1 at 1-5. While Plaintiff's
Complaint does not directly identify these criminal cases as
the subject of this suit, it does refer to his “pending
motion in district court, ” which likely refers to
Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate in these cases. See doc.
8 at 3-4; doc. 8-1 at 9-11. In addition, it
appears that no criminal cases involving Plaintiff have been
filed other than these three trafficking cases. See
Therefore, I recommend that the Court construe
Plaintiff's Complaint as alleging constitutional
violations relating to his transportation to the Curry County
Detention Center on October 2, 2013.
filed the instant action on October 27, 2016. Doc.
1. The Complaint alleges that by improperly ordering
Plaintiff's transportation to the Curry County Detention
Center, Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth,
Fourteenth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the United States
Constitution. Id. On January 5, 2017, Defendants
filed this Motion to Dismiss, alleging that: (1)
Plaintiff's claims are barred by the applicable statute
of limitations; (2) Defendants are entitled to immunity under
the Eleventh Amendment; (3) Defendant Reeb is entitled to
absolute prosecutorial immunity; and (4) Defendant Reeb is
entitled to qualified immunity. Doc. 8 at 2-10. For
the following reasons, I recommend that the Court grant
Defendants' motion and dismiss this action.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a court to dismiss a
complaint for failure to state a claim upon which the court
can grant relief. When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the
court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual
allegations in the complaint and must view them in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sutton v. Utah
State Sch. for the Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236
(10th Cir. 1999). “The court's function on a Rule
12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the
parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the
plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to
state a claim for which relief may be granted.”
Id. (quoting Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d
1562, 1565 (10th Cir. 1991)).
survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must include
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “The
plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“Thus, the mere metaphysical possibility that some
plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support of the
pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must give the
court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable
likelihood of mustering factual support for these
claims.” Ridge at Red Hawk, LLC v. Schneider,
493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007).
complaint challenged by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
does not require detailed factual allegations, a complaint
does not “suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid
of further factual enhancement.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (internal alterations, citations, and quotations
omitted); see also Bixler v. Foster, 596 F.3d 751,
756 (10th Cir. 2010). The court is not required to accept
conclusions of law, conclusory allegations, or the asserted
application of law to the alleged facts. Hackford v.
Babbitt, 14 F.3d 1457, 1465 (10th Cir. 1994).
as here, a party is proceeding pro se, the Court is
to liberally construe his pleadings. Casanova v.
Ulibarri, 595 F.3d 1120, 1125 (10th Cir. 2010).
“But the court [is] not [to] ‘assume the role of
advocate for the pro se litigant.'” Baker v.
Holt, 498 F. App'x 770, 772 (10th Cir. 2012)
(unpublished) (quoting Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d
1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991)). Accordingly, the Court
“will not supply additional factual allegations to
round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal
theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New
Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997). In
other words, “[t]he broad reading of the
plaintiff's complaint does not relieve the plaintiff of
the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized
legal claim could be based.” Hall, 935 F.2d at
1110. Prisoners are particularly well-situated to plead facts
outlining their treatment since they experienced it
first-hand. See Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1185
(10th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of
first allege that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the
statute of limitations. Doc. 8 at 2-4. The Supreme
Court has held that because “§ 1983 claims are
best characterized as personal injury actions . . . the
3-year statute of limitations governing actions ‘for an
injury to the person or reputation of any person'”
applies to such claims brought in New Mexico. Wilson v.
Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 280 (1985) (quoting N.M.S.A.
§ 37-1-8). Therefore, in order to satisfy the statute
of limitations, Plaintiff must have brought the lawsuit
within three years of his alleged injury. See
N.M.S.A. § 37-1-8.
claims that he was injured by Defendants' act of
transporting Plaintiff back and forth between the Department
of Corrections and the Curry County Detention Center.
Doc. 1 at 2-3. As explained above, Plaintiff appears
to be referring to his transportation immediately preceding
the signing of his plea agreement on October 2, 2013. See
doc. 8-1 at 1-5. Under the three-year statute of
limitations, any action filed in regard to such injury must
have been filed by October 2, 2016. Plaintiff filed the
instant action on October 27, 2016, and thereby missed the
deadline under the statute of limitations by 25 days. See
doc. 1. Although Plaintiff did not identify the date on
which he signed his Complaint, the envelope in which the
Complaint was sent to the Court was postmarked October 26,
2016. Doc. 1 at 4-5. Therefore, as all evidence
suggests that Plaintiff failed to file his Complaint within
the time limits established by the statute of limitations, I
recommend that Plaintiff's claims be dismissed with
prejudice on that ground.
Defendant District Attorney's Office and Defendant Reeb,
in her official capacity, are entitled to immunity under the
the Court were to find that Plaintiff filed his Complaint
within the applicable statute of limitations, the Court
should grant Defendants' Motion as to Defendant Ninth
Judicial District Attorney's Office and Defendant Reeb,
in her official capacity, on the basis of Eleventh Amendment
immunity. The Eleventh Amendment to the United States
Constitution states that “[t]he Judicial power of the
United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in
law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the
United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or
Subjects of any Foreign state.” U.S. Const. amend. XI.
The Supreme Court has explained that “the Constitution
does not provide for federal jurisdiction over suits against
nonconsenting States.” Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of
Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 73 (2000).
Ninth Judicial District Attorney's Office is a state
entity. See N.M.S.A. § 36- 1-11; State ex rel.
Attorney General v. Reese, 78 N.M. 241, 249 (1967);
State ex rel. Ward v. Romero, 17 N.M. 88, 97-99, 125
P. 617, 619-20 (1912). Consequently, it and its employees
(when sued in their official capacities) are protected by the
Eleventh Amendment. See Macias v. Griffin, 612 Fed.
App'x 532, 534 (10th Cir. 2015) (holding that New
Mexico's Fifth Judicial District Attorney's Office is
protected from suit by the Eleventh Amendment); Jacks ...