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Raudenbush v. Scholfield

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

April 27, 2017

GEORGE JOSEPH RAUDENBUSH III, Plaintiff,
v.
DERRICK SCHOLFIELD, BOBBY STRAUGHTER, MARK THOMASON, AMANDA SALYERS, FAYE MCNUTT, MICHELLE HARPER, GERALD GULLEY, and ALISHA JAMES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS A. VARLAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner's complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2], an amended complaint [Doc. 3], and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1]. It appears from the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] will be GRANTED.

         Defendant Gulley has also filed a motion to dismiss [Docs. 4, 5]. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss [Doc. 8], [1] Defendant Gulley filed a reply [Doc. 9], and Plaintiff filed an unauthorized sur-reply [Doc. 10].

         For the reasons discussed herein, Defendant Gulley's motion to dismiss [Doc. 4] will be GRANTED, no process shall issue, and this action will be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983 as to all Defendants.

         I. Screening Standard

         Under 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. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A. The dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and in 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 Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive an initial review under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Courts liberally construe pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases and hold them to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

         In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Black v. Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23 F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir. 1994); Russo v. City of Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) (stating that “Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere”).

         II. Allegations of the Complaint

         In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was convicted in Monroe County of various crimes, sentenced to a four-year maximum sentence, and that he was released “within two months” of completing that sentence because he had a good record [Doc. 3 pp. 8-9]. Plaintiff also alleges that on December 3, 2013, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed this conviction and that on December 20, 2013, a bond was secured for Plaintiff's release [Id. at 9].[2]

         On December 15, 2014, however, after Plaintiff was retried and again convicted of the same charges for a second time, Plaintiff again received a maximum sentence of four years [Id. at 10]. Plaintiff states that during his sentencing for this second conviction, the trial judge stated that Plaintiff would be on probation until the Board of Parole of the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) determined that Plaintiff had flattened his sentence [Id. at 11]. Plaintiff was then taken to the Board of Parole, where he was processed and issued a violent offender identification card [Id. at 10].

         Plaintiff states that at his processing, he presented Defendant Salyers with a letter from the Chief Counsel of the Public Defender's Office dated January 16, 2014, which stated that Plaintiff's first sentence was set to expiate in April if it had not been set aside [Id. at 10]. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Salyers made a copy of the letter, stated that the copy would be place in Plaintiff's file, and gave the original letter back to Plaintiff [Id. at 10-11]. Plaintiff further provides that Defendant Salyers's supervisor was present during this exchange [Id.]. Plaintiff also states that he told Defendant Salyers about the trial judge's statement regarding the Parole Board flattening Plaintiff's sentence [Id. at 11]. Further, as Plaintiff was living in Knoxville, Defendant Salyers transferred Plaintiff's case to the Knoxville office of the Board of Parole [Id.].

         On December 16, 2014, Plaintiff met with Defendant McNutt at the Knoxville Board of Parole office and presented her with the same letter from the Chief Counsel of the Public Defender's Office [Id.]. According to Plaintiff, Defendant McNutt agreed that it appeared that Plaintiff had been over sentenced and made a copy of the letter for Plaintiff's file [Id.]. Plaintiff gave Defendant McNutt “a detailed narrative documenting the over sentencing” [Id.]. Plaintiff also states that he called Defendant McNutt on November 17, 2015, and left her a voice message regarding the trial judge's statements at sentencing pertaining to the Board of Parole flattening Plaintiff's sentence [Id. at 12].

         On January 27, 2015, Plaintiff met with Defendant Harper at the Knoxville Board of Parole office and requested a Tennessee state identification card to help him with employment matters [Id.]. This request was refused, as Defendant Harper stated that Plaintiff would only get a violent offender identification card [Id.]. Plaintiff again gave Defendant Harper a copy of the same letter from the Chief Counsel of the Public Defender's Office and a “detailed narrative” of the over sentencing [Id.]. Plaintiff further requested that Defendant Harper check her files, as they would show that Plaintiff was not required to serve a second sentence, but all of Plaintiff's requests were ignored [Id.].

         Plaintiff later met with Probation Officer Jeff Skeen[3] and presented Mr. Skeen with the same information he had previously presented to Defendants Salyers, McNutt, Harper, and Gulley, and Mr. Skeen told Plaintiff that he was ...


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