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Selph v. Tedrow

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

February 21, 2018

JULIAN SELPH, Plaintiff,


         THIS MATTER is before the Court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A 1915(e)(2)(B), and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the Civil Rights Complaint Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 filed by Plaintiff Julian Selph (Doc. 1). The Court will dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that it fails to state a claim, seeks monetary relief from Defendants who are immune from such relief, and is barred by Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971) .


         Plaintiff Julian Selph is a prisoner in the custody of the State of New Mexico. At the time he filed his Complaint, he was a pretrial detainee awaiting trial on charges in State of New Mexico, County of San Juan, Eleventh Judicial District Court cause no. D-1116-CR-201500444. (Doc. 1 at 19). During the pendency of this action, Selph has been convicted by a jury and sentenced to 339 years imprisonment on multiple counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13, criminal exual contact with a minor under 13, child abuse, and intimidation of a witness. See D-1116-CR-201500444.[1]

         Selph filed his Civil Rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1 at 1). The caption of Selph's Complaint identifies “County of San Juan Prosecutor Robert P. Tedrow & District Attorney Office All Assistants” as Defendants. (Doc. 1 at 1). In the body of his Complaint, Selph also names Karen Etcitty, an Assistant District Attorney, and New Mexico State Magistrate Judge Trudy Reed-Chavez. (Doc. 1 at 2-3). For Selph's cause of action, the Complaint alleges Count I “malicious prosecution” and Count II “6 Amendment-Due Process.” (Doc. 1 at 4). In the space for “supporting facts, ” Selph states “see attached.” (Doc. 1 at 4). Attached to Selph's Complaint are copies of documents from his state criminal proceeding and hand-written letters, addressed “to whom it may concern, ” setting out what appears to be a rambling diary or log of events occurring during his prosecution. (Doc. 1 at 8-33). Selph seeks “$10, 000, 000 in monteary damages as well as my case dismissed, for ajudicating officials in my case be removed from office & heavly reprimanded by the Court.” (Doc. 1 at 6).


         Plaintiff Selph is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. The Court has the discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint sua sponte for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under either Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).

         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. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; 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.

         Under § 1915(e)(2)(B) the court may dismiss the complaint at any time if the court determines the action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(2). The authority granted by § 1915 permits the court the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). See also Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir.1991). The authority to “pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations” means that a court is not bound, as it usually is when making a determination based solely on the pleadings, to accept without question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). The court is not required to accept the truth of the plaintiff's allegations but, instead, may go beyond the pleadings and consider any other materials filed by the parties, as well as court proceedings subject to judicial notice. Denton, 504 U.S. at 32-33.

         The Court liberally construes the factual allegations in reviewing a pro se complaint. 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 (10th Cir. 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 the rule 12(b)(6) or § 1915(e)(2)(B) standards. Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir. 2004).


         I. The Complaint Fails to State a Claim for Relief

         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must assert acts by government officials acting under color of law that result in a deprivation of rights secured by the United States Constitution. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). There must be a connection between official conduct and violation of a constitutional right. Conduct that is not connected to a constitutional violation is not actionable under Section 1983. See Trask v. Franco, 446 F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th Cir. 1998).

         Further, a civil rights action against a public official or entity may not be based solely on a theory of respondeat superior liability for the actions of co-workers or subordinates. A plaintiff must plead that each government official, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 676, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009). Plaintiff must allege some personal involvement by an identified official in the alleged constitutional violation to succeed under § 1983. Fogarty v. Gallegos,523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008). In a Section 1983 action, it is particularly important that a plaintiff's complaint “make clear exactly who is alleged to have done whatto whom, ...

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