United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTER comes before the Court on the Prisoner's Civil
Rights Complaint filed by Plaintiff, Mark Reyes (Doc. 1). The
Court determines that the Complaint fails to state a claim
for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and will be dismissed
without prejudice. The Court also grants Plaintiff Reyes
leave to file an amended complaint.
Factual and Procedural Background
Mark Reyes is a prisoner incarcerated at the
Penitentiary of New Mexico (“PNM”). (Doc. 1 at
1). Reyes alleges deprivation of constitutionally protected
rights to due process, equal protection, and freedom from
unreasonable seizures by deductions from Plaintiff's
prison inmate account for debts that were incurred for
postage and legal copies between 2000 and 2005. Reyes claims
that the deductions from the account by prison officials are
illegal because: (1) Plaintiff's sentence and
incarceration were illegal; (2) Plaintiff is indigent and all
legal mail and legal copies are free to indigent inmates; (3)
in 2010 Plaintiff obtained a legal name change and is no
longer liable for any debts incurred under the name of
“Mark Reyes”; and (4) in 2013, Plaintiff signed
an authorization for a deduction of 50% of monies deposited
in the account but, off and on, the prison deducts all of the
monies deposited into the account. (Doc. 1 at 4-5).
alleges damage from the deduction of monies in the inmate
account and freezing of the account. The claimed damage
includes an inability to purchase food, hygiene, clothing,
and medical items from the commissary, loss of books due to
inadequate funds to mail them home, loss of copies of legal
documents due to inadequate funds to mail them home, and an
inability to complete the publication process for the name
change due to lack of funds. (Doc. 1 at 7-10, 17-27).
Plaintiff's request for relief asks for reimbursement of
the amounts that have been deducted from the inmate account,
release from all liability for any debt owed the prison, all
mail sent free-of-charge, payment of the publication costs
for the name change, replacement of 97 specified books, a
one-year subscription to “Shape” magazine, and a
number of clothing items to be ordered at the prison's
expense. (Doc. 1 at 17-27).
inmate account statements contained in the record do not
support any allegation that the prison has taken all of the
money in Plaintiff's account. While the account
statements do show some deductions by the prison to cover
prior debt for postage charges, the statements also show
ongoing charges by Reyes for commissary purchases and
postage. (Doc. 2 at 5-8, Doc. 4 at 2).
Standard for Failure to State a Claim
Reyes 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 can be granted under either
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or 28
U.S.C. Section 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).
Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all well-pled factual
allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported allegations, and
may not consider matters outside the pleadings.
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. Okla. Dep't of Human Servs., 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
Section 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may dismiss the complaint at
any time if it determines that the action fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(2). The authority granted by Section 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, 935 F.2d at 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). Nor is the Court 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. Id. at 32-33.
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, 935 F.2d at 1110.
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, 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 Section 1915(e)(2)(B) standards. Bradley v.
Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir. 2004).
Analysis of Plaintiff Reyes' Claims
claims that the deductions from his inmate account were made
in violation of his due process, equal protection, and Fourth
Amendment rights. (Doc. 1 at 3). The named Defendants in this
case are Warden German Franco and Deputy Warden Alicia
Lucero. (Doc. 1 at 1). As factual support for the claims
against these Defendants, Plaintiff Reyes alleges:
The defendants Warden German Franco and Deputy Warden Alicia
Lucero were informed in writing by me in 2015 that my account
money was being taken again even though I don't owe money
. . . The Warden German Franco and Deputy Warden Alicia
Lucero are directly responsible for this ongoing violation
because they have known about it since 2013 and have not
stopped charging ...