United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lewis Sisemore (“Plaintiff”) has filed this pro
se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his
constitutional rights “may” have been violated by
Defendants Greene County Sessions Court Judge Bailey,
District Attorney Burkely Bell, Attorney Troy L. Bowlin II,
and Tennessee Trooper Vince Mullins [Doc. 1 p.1]. This action
was filed in the Middle District of Tennessee, which
transferred it to this division based on venue considerations
[Doc. 3], and it is now before the Court for screening.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), district courts must
screen complaints by non prisoners who are proceeding in
forma pauperis. See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114
F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), overruled on other grounds by Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). Dismissal is required if
complaints are frivolous or malicious, if they fail to state
a claim for relief, or if they are brought against a
defendant who is immune, unless the Court invites a plaintiff
to amend an allegation which, though deficient as presented,
might state a claim if amended. LaFountain v. Harry,
716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013).
performing the screening task, the Court recognizes that pro
se pleadings are to be generously construed and “held
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976)). All well-pleaded allegations in the complaint will
be taken as true and the factual allegations will be
considered to determine whether “they plausibly suggest
an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009). The Court examines the complaint in
light of those requirements.
contends that, on January 28, 2013, while he was traveling on
I-81 in the southbound lane, he was instructed to enter the
scales, was stopped on the scale, and was told to bring his
log book and driver license inside the building. Once inside,
Plaintiff presented these documents to Defendant Trooper
Mullins, who examined them, told him to update his log book
to the current date, and finally sent him out the door. The
encounter continued, however, because Trooper Mullins then
instructed Plaintiff to drive to the inspection shed.
Ultimately, Trooper Mullins searched the cab of the truck,
without notice, a warrant, or probable cause, and frivolously
arrested Plaintiff, using tactics of fear and intimidation.
Plaintiff was misinformed and coerced into waiving his
rights. Plaintiff charges that these events were the result
of a conspiracy involving the Judge, the District Attorney,
the defense attorney, perhaps the arresting officer and even
the court clerk. Plaintiff maintains that his defense counsel
lied to him, accepted attorney fees, did not defend him, and
coerced him to enter a guilty plea which was not in his best
asks that Defendants be put on notice that a federal civil
rights lawsuit has been filed and that their possible
misconduct is under investigation. Plaintiff also asks that
his state charges be dismissed and his weapon and ammunition
be returned to him.
the statute upon which Plaintiff's lawsuit is based,
i.e., 42 U.S.C. § 1983, provides for redress of the
deprivation of a right guaranteed by the Constitution or laws
of the United States caused by a “person” acting
under color of state law. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 & n.55 (1978) (for
purposes of a § 1983 action, a “person”
includes individuals and “bodies politic and
the second element is missing with respect to Plaintiff's
claim against Attorney Troy L. Bowlin, II, because a private
attorney defending a criminal accused is not a state actor.
See Polk Cnty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 318 (1981)
(“[A] lawyer representing a client is not, by virtue of
being an officer of the court, a state actor ‘under
color of state law' within the meaning of §
1983.”); Rogers v. Stacey, No. 99-3408, WL
190100 (6th Cir. Feb. 7, 2000) (defense attorney not acting
under color of state law); McNeil v. Brott, No.
89-1433, 1989 WL 147109 (6th Cir. Dec. 6, 1989) (private
attorney not state actor).
Attorney Bowlin and all claims against him are
DISMISSED for failure to state a claim which
would entitle Plaintiff to relief under § 1983.
claims of conspiracy are likewise fatally deficient. A civil
conspiracy, as explained by the Sixth Circuit, “is an
agreement between two or more persons to injure another by
unlawful action.” Spadafore v. Gardner, 330
F.3d 849, 854 (6th Cir 2003) (citing Hooks v. Hooks,
771 F.2d 935, 943- 44 (6th Cir. 1985)). Here, Plaintiff
claims that a conspiracy to violate his rights existed, but
he has provided no factual allegations to link these
Defendants “to any common act designed to deprive
[plaintiff] of [his] constitutional rights.” Mich.
Paytel Joint Venture v. City of Detroit, 287
F.3d 527, 541 (6th Cir. 2002). Even if the Court assumes, as
it must, that all the conduct occurred as alleged in the
complaint, “there is no evidence from which to infer
that the defendants acted in concert in so doing.”
Spadafore, 330 F.3d at 854. The Court is not
required to conjure up unpled facts, Scheid v. Fanny
Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 437 (6th Cir.
1988), and Plaintiff's assertion of the existence of a
civil conspiracy lacks merit, is conclusory, and fails to
state a § 1983 claim for relief. See Gutierrez v.
Lynch, 826 F.2d 1534, 1538-39 (6th Cir. 1987) (holding
that vague, conclusory accounts of a conspiracy and
unconstitutional behavior are insufficient to state a civil
rights claim); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 (the
complaint must contain contentions showing that each
Defendant violated the Constitution through his “own
final claim is that his state criminal charges are
constitutionally infirm due to an unconstitutional search
conducted by Trooper Mullins, an unlawful arrest, and
misinformation and coercion used to secure his guilty plea.
Plaintiff requests that the Court dismiss the State's
case against him, return his weapon and ammunition, and
credit him for his “clean record” which
“speaks for itself” [Doc. 1 p.3].
for Plaintiff, this claim must be dismissed because the
doctrine established by Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S.
37 (1971), applies here and calls for that result. Under this
doctrine, federal courts must abstain from entertaining
lawsuits by individuals seeking to enjoin a criminal
prosecution against them in state court where those
proceedings implicate important state interests and the
plaintiff has an adequate opportunity to raise his challenges
in that forum. See O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S.
488, 499-504 (1974). All of the factors supporting abstention
are present here.
appears that Plaintiff's criminal proceedings are pending
in the state court. There, Plaintiff may attack what he sees
as criminal charges tainted by multiple violations of his
rights and a state criminal case rife with constitutional
violations. Were this Court to find in Plaintiff's favor
that the rights allegedly violated, in fact, were violated,
this ruling undoubtedly would undermine the State's
interest in conducting its criminal ...