United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
QUINCY D. SCOTT., SR., Plaintiff,
JOSH RHODES, McMinn County Sheriff's Office Detective, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Magistrate Judge Christopher
B. Steger's December 13, 2016 Report &
Recommendation, issued pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)
and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b). [Doc. 8]. For the
reasons set forth herein, the Court will: (1) ACCEPT and
ADOPT Magistrate Judge Steger's findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and recommendations; (2) GRANT
Plaintiff's Motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. 3]; (3) DENY Plaintiff's Motions to
Amend [Docs. 5, 7, 9]; and (4) DISMISS this action for
failure to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A).
September 12, 2016, Plaintiff Quincy D. Scott, Sr., a pro se
prisoner, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc.
1] and, shortly thereafter, he filed a motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 3].
Complaint, Plaintiff names as defendants McMinn County
Sheriff's detectives Josh Rhodes and Jim Shaw, Athens
Police Department detective Freddie Shultz, Assistant
District Attorneys Dorothy Cherry and Emily Petro, and two
employees of a Check Into Cash store in Etowah Tennessee,
Felicia Branam and Lisa Raby. [Doc. 1 at 7]. Plaintiff
alleges that, on July 10, 2014, Rhodes unlawfully stopped him
and his friend, Larry Moore, while the two were riding in
Moore's truck; Rhodes searched the truck, allegedly for
evidence related to a robbery, but ultimately let the men go.
[Id. at 4]. The next day, however, Rhodes again
stopped Moore and again searched his truck. [Id.].
Plaintiff contends that Rhodes fabricated evidence related to
the robbery and said that the evidence was found in the
truck. [Id. at 4-5]. Rhodes and a federal agent came
to arrest Plaintiff, and later told him in custody that if he
“did not tell them that [Moore] robbed a bank, they
would give [him] 1, 001 months in federal prison”;
Plaintiff, however, maintained that he did not know about a
robbery. [Id. at 5].
appears that Plaintiff went to trial on charges related to
these events. [See Id. at 5-6]. Although the
physical evidence allegedly collected from the truck did not
test positive for Plaintiff's DNA or fingerprints, it was
nonetheless admitted into evidence at trial. Additionally,
the trial court judge permitted pictures of evidence that had
gone missing prior to trial to be admitted into evidence.
None of the witnesses identified Plaintiff or testified that
he matched the description of the robber. According to
Plaintiff, the prosecutor stated to the jury that the
evidence presented did not establish proof of Plaintiff's
guilt but that he should be convicted regardless, and that
the judge instructed the jury that they could convict if they
were convinced of his guilt by a “moral
Complaint asserts causes of action for “false
imprisonment, obtaining grand jury indictment under false
pretenses, unlawful stop and search and seizure, malicious
prosecution, fabricating evidence, due process violation,
judicial misconduct, prosecutorial manipulation, bad faith of
the court, and chain of custody violation, ” related to
the numerous violations of his civil rights that allegedly
occurred with respect to his arrest, prosecution, and
conviction. [Id. at 6-7]. He requests the reversal
of his conviction and one million dollars in punitive
damages. [Id. at 8].
November 2016, Plaintiff filed two motions to amend his
complaint. [Docs. 5, 7]. In his first motion to amend,
Plaintiff argues that the prosecutors and judge continued to
violate his constitutional rights as recently as November 2,
2016, when he was sentenced - despite his protests - for the
offense of aggravated robbery despite the fact that the jury
convicted him of aggravated burglary. [Doc. 5]. In his second
motion to amend, he seeks to name his attorney, assistant
public defender Donald Leon Shahan, Jr., as a defendant to
this action, arguing that his attorney failed to file a
motion to suppress evidence and generally failed to represent
Plaintiff “in the manner requested by Plaintiff.”
December 13, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Christopher
B. Steger entered a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) in this action. [Doc. 8]. In it,
Judge Steger recommended that Plaintiff's motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis be granted, as he
lacked sufficient resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee for
his action. [Id. at 1]. However, Judge Steger
recommended that Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed for
failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). [Id]. Specifically, Judge Steger
concluded that Plaintiff's claims were barred by Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), as his success
on those claims would necessarily imply the invalidity of his
underlying conviction. [Id. at 2-3]. Judge Steger
finally recommended that Plaintiff's Motions to Amend be
denied as futile, as those amendments sought to raise claims
challenging “the fact or duration of [his] confinement,
” and as such, are not cognizable under § 1983.
[Id. at 3]. Plaintiff was advised that he had
fourteen days in which to file any objections to the R&R,
and that “failure to file objections within the time
specified constitutes a waiver of his right to
appeal….” [Id. at 5 n.1].
next day, the Court received a third Motion to Amend from
Plaintiff, which had been signed and dated on December 12,
2016, prior to the entry of the R&R. [Doc. 9]. In this
Motion, Plaintiff seeks to add McMinn County, Tennessee as a
Defendant to this action and to increase the total amount of
damages sought. [Id.].
more than 40 days have now passed since the entry of the
magistrate judge's R&R, Plaintiff has not filed any
written objections thereto, nor has he made any additional
filings or communications with the Court.
Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Steger's conclusion
that Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application
and accompanying documents demonstrate that he lacks
sufficient financial resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee.
Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915,
Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. 3] will be GRANTED. However, for the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motions to Amend his
Complaint [Docs. 5, 7, 9] will be DENIED AS FUTILE, no
process shall issue, and this action will be DISMISSED for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
under § 1983.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
district courts must screen prisoner complaints and shall, at
any time, sua sponte dismiss any claims that are
frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or
are against a defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A); Benson v.
O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). Courts must
liberally construe pro se pleadings filed in civil rights
cases and hold them to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. See, e.g., Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Nonetheless, the
dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007),
“governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the
relevant statutory language tracks the language in [Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure] 12(b)(6).” Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. ...