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Bustos v. 2nd Judicial District Court

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 15, 2017

RUDY BUSTOS, Plaintiff,


         THIS MATTER is before the Court under 28 U.S.C. §1915A and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the Civil Rights Complaint Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 filed by Plaintiff Rudy Bustos on October 12, 2016 (Doc. 1) (“Complaint”). The Court will dismiss the Complaint, with prejudice, based on immunity, failure to state a claim, and the Heck doctrine.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Rudy Bustos is a prisoner incarcerated at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility. Bustos was indicted by a New Mexico Grand Jury on two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of second degree murder. He pled no contest to the charges. In 2005, he was sentenced to 15 years of incarceration with a one-year enhancement and two years of parole, and was granted 410 days of presentence credit. The Court also imposed restitution in the amount of $12, 500. (Doc. 1 at 2-3). See, also, State of New Mexico v. Bustos, Nos. D-202-CR-2004-04512 and D-202-CR-2005-00260.

         Bustos filed his Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in this Court on October 12, 2016.[1](Doc. 1). His Complaint names the 2nd Judicial District Court and the District Attorney of Bernalillo County of New Mexico as Defendants. (Doc. 1 at 1-2). Bustos contends that, by imposing two years of parole on top of the maximum statutory sentence of 15 years, the State District Court and the District Attorney violated the prohibition against double jeopardy under both the United States and the New Mexico Constitutions. (Doc. 1 at 2-3). He seeks “to be compensated for mental strain and anguish, cruel and unusual punishment and constitutional rights, ” to have his sentence re-calculated, and to be relieved of the restitution obligation. (Doc. 1 at 3-4).

         II. The Law Regarding Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim

         Plaintiff Bustos is proceeding pro se. The Court has the discretion to dismiss a pro se complaint sua sponte for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) the Court must accept all well-pled factual allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported allegations, and may not consider matters outside the pleading. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1989). The court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim if “it is ‘patently obvious' that the plaintiff could not prevail on the facts alleged.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting McKinney v. Oklahoma Dep't of Human Services, 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th Cir. 1991)). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Id.

         In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court liberally construes the factual allegations. See Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1520-21 (10th Cir. 1992). However, a pro se plaintiff's pleadings are judged by the same legal standards that apply to all litigants and a pro se plaintiff must abide by the applicable rules of court. Ogden v. San Juan County, 32 F.3d 452, 455 (10thCir. 1994). The court is not obligated to craft legal theories for the plaintiff or to supply factual allegations to support the plaintiff's claims. Nor may the court assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1110.

         In deciding whether to dismiss the complaint, in whole or in part, the court is to consider whether to allow plaintiff an opportunity to amend the complaint. Pro se plaintiffs should be given a reasonable opportunity to remedy defects in their pleadings. Reynoldson v. Shillinger, 907 F.2d 124, 126 (10th Cir. 1990). The opportunity to amend should be granted unless amendment would be futile. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1109. An amendment is futile if the amended claims would also be subject to immediate dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) or § 1915(e)(2)(B) standards. Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir. 2004).

         III. Plaintiff's Complaint Fails to State a Claim for Relief

         A. Plaintiff's Claims are Barred by Judicial and Prosecutorial Immunity:

         Civil rights and state law claims against judicial officers acting as judges are clearly barred by absolute judicial immunity. See Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355-56 (1978); Christensen v. Ward, 916 F.2d 1462, 1473-76 (10th Cir. 1990); Hunnicutt v. Sewell, 147 N.M. 272, 277-78, 219 P.3d 529, 534-45 (Ct. App. 2009). It is well settled that the doctrine of judicial immunity is applicable in actions, such as the case at bar, with 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims as well as state law claims. Van Sickle v. Holloway, 791 F.2d 1431, 1434-35 (10th Cir.1986); Collins on Behalf of Collins v. Tabet, 111 N.M. 391, 396, 806 P.2d 40, 45 (1991). Absolute immunity bars all suits for money damages for acts made in the exercise of judicial discretion. Guttman v. Khalsa, 446 F.3d 1027, 1033 (10th Cir.2006).

         The United States Supreme Court has recognized absolute immunity for officials whose special functions or constitutional status requires complete protection from suit. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 807 (1982). The purpose of absolute judicial immunity is:

“to benefit the public, ‘whose interest is that the judges should be at liberty to exercise their functions with independence and without fear of consequences.' The Supreme Court has recognized that ‘the loser in one forum will frequently seek another, charging the participants in the first with unconstitutional animus.' Therefore, absolute immunity is ...

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