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Douglas v. F.S.

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

April 24, 2015

F.S., ET AL., Defendants.


JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On March 2, 2015, the Plaintiff, Jeffery G. Douglas, Tennessee Department of Correction prisoner number 467106, an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed a pro se civil complaint, titled "Writ of Conspiracy, " accompanied by a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) In an order issued on March 3, 2015, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as F.S., [1] Jennifer Plunk, Ralph Turner, Gregory D. Gookin, and Danielle Jones. On April 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed a document, titled "Additional Pleadings to Writ of Conspiracy, " that the Court construes as an amendment to his complaint. (ECF No. 5.)

By way of background, this action arises out of Plaintiff's convictions for rape and sexual battery of a thirteen-year-old girl, which were obtained in the Circuit Court for Madison County, Tennessee. Douglas was sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of ten years for the rape and two years for the sexual battery. The convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Douglas, No. W2010-00986-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 915052 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 16, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 25, 2011). The denial of post-conviction relief was affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Douglas v. State, No. W2012-00012-CCA-R3-PC, 2013 WL 1557367 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 9, 2013). Douglas has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which is pending in this district. See Douglas v. Steward, No. 1:13-cv-01129-JDB-egb (W.D. Tenn. filed May 6, 2013). The Defendants in the present suit are the victim (F.S.), the victim's mother (Plunk), the victim's mother's boyfriend (Turner), defense counsel (Gookin) and the police investigator (Jones).

This is not the first lawsuit Plaintiff has filed against these parties arising from his criminal prosecution. On July 21, 2011, Douglas filed a federal lawsuit in this district against Plunk, F.S. and Turner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Douglas v. Plunk, No. 1:11-cv-01219-JDT-egb (W.D. Tenn.).[2] The Court issued an order on July 5, 2012, that, inter alia, dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim and imposed a first "strike" under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Id. (ECF No. 9). The Court reasoned that "[a] witness in a criminal trial is absolutely immune under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for claims arising from the witness' testimony." Id. at 4. Douglas did not appeal that dismissal.

On November 2, 2012, Plaintiff filed a second action in the Madison County Circuit Court against the defendants named in the present suit and other parties. Defendant Jones subsequently removed the case to federal court. Douglas v. Jones, No. 1:12-cv-01276-JDB-egb (W.D. Tenn. removed Nov. 30, 2012). In an order issued on September 3, 2013, U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen remanded the case to state court for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. Id. (Order Remanding Case, ECF No. 125).

In his most recent complaint, titled "Writ of Conspiracy, " Plaintiff alleges that, on October 19, 2013, he signed an affidavit of complaint charging F.S., Plunk and Turner with extortion under Tennessee law and seeking a warrant for their arrest. (ECF No. 1 at 2; ECF No. 1-1.) Jackson Police Captain Tyreece Miller wrote to Plaintiff on October 24, 2013, that "I will treat this complaint as I would any other complaint/police report." (ECF No. 1-2 at 2.) Miller also wrote that "I will assign your complaint to an Investigator to follow up. The results of the investigation will then be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for review." (Id. ) Plaintiff was advised that "[y]ou will receive future correspondence via U.S. mail." (Id. ) Plaintiff has heard nothing further about his affidavit of complaint. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) On October 31, 2013, Plaintiff signed another affidavit of complaint F.S., Plunk, Turner and Jones that charged those parties with perjury and sought the issuance of arrest warrants. (Id. at 2; ECF No. 1-3.)

The remainder of the complaint sets forth the law governing actions for malicious prosecution and the common-law writ of conspiracy, which "applied when conspiracy was formed to prosecute an individual on a false charge of felony...." (ECF No. 1 at 1; see also id. at 3 (same).) There is also a lengthy discussion of the law of perjury. (Id. at 3-5.) The complaint asserts that, in a cause of action for maliciously accusing another of a crime with an intent to injure that other person, "it is, [sic] immaterial whether the person is guilty or innocent of such crime." (Id. at 6 (emphasis omitted).) The complaint concludes with a discussion of extortion and obstruction of justice. (Id. at 6-7.)

Plaintiff asks the Court to "grant the Arrest Warrant" and grant any other relief to which he may be entitled. (Id. at 7.)

In his amended complaint, which was filed on April 6, 2015, Plaintiff discusses, in general terms, the law applicable to an attempt to commit an offense. (ECF No. 5 at 1-2.) Plaintiff also reiterates his arguments that Defendants have committed perjury. (Id. at 3.) The amended complaint argues that Defendants have attempted to commit the crime of conspiracy. (Id. at 4-6.)

The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). "Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'" Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). "[P]leadings that... are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 ("Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, ...

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