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Moses v. Oldham

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

October 16, 2017

PAMELA MOSES, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM OLDHAM, in his official capacity as Shelby County Sheriff, and MARK LUTTRELL, in his official capacity as Mayor of Shelby County, Defendants.



         This action for damages and injunctive relief under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution raises serious allegations against Shelby County regarding abuse of power and a citizen's access to vital public institutions. Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of the Chief United States Magistrate Judge (the “Chief Magistrate Judge”) filed on October 17, 2016, recommending that the Court dismiss Plaintiff Pamela Moses' case sua sponte (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed timely objections on October 31, 2016 (ECF Nos. 8 & 9). For the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby ADOPTS the Chief Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation and accordingly DISMISSES Plaintiff's pro se complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint “pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause, Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution” (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff did not cite a cause of action but requested both injunctive and monetary relief. She also filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2). Plaintiff claims that when she visited the Shelby County Courthouse in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 16, 2016, she was followed, accosted, and wrongfully arrested by deputies of the Shelby County Sheriff. Pursuant to Administrative Order 2013-05, the case was assigned to the Chief Magistrate Judge for management of all pretrial matters, including the determination of non-dispositive matters and the issuance of reports and recommendations on all dispositive matters. In cases where a plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is required to screen the complaint and dismiss the action if the complaint “is frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Chief Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation constitutes the Court's screening.

         The Chief Magistrate Judge, construing the Complaint as pleading an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, entered an order granting Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and submitted a recommendation that the Court decline to exercise jurisdiction over this case under the Younger abstention doctrine, or, in the alternative, dismiss Plaintiff's pro se Complaint sua sponte for failure to state a claim. Order Grant'g Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and R. & R. for Sua Sponte Dismissal, at 14-15, Oct. 17, 2016, ECF No. 7; see Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Plaintiff's timely objections followed.


         When a magistrate judge “submit[s] to a judge of the [district] court proposed findings of fact and recommendations, ” “any party may serve and file written objections to such proposed findings and recommendations as provided by rules of court.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)-(C). A district court “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (italics added). After reviewing the evidence, the Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made” by the Chief Magistrate Judge. Id. The Court need not, however, review any portion of the recommendation to which Plaintiff did not specifically object, and may adopt the findings and rulings of the Chief Magistrate Judge to which no specific objection is filed. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-52 (1985).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Liberally construing Plaintiff's objections to the Chief Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, the Court identifies the following objections: (1) allegations of bias against the Chief Magistrate Judge; (2) the Chief Magistrate Judge goes beyond the Complaint in order to determine the applicability of the Younger doctrine and that it does not state a claim for which relief may be granted; (3) this action is based on new facts not previously adjudicated; (4) abstention by the Court pursuant to the Younger doctrine would be inappropriate in this instance because Plaintiff does not ask the Court interfere in a criminal matter but to prevent future harm; (5) even if the Younger doctrine is applicable, the allegations demonstrate a situation where the Court should still intervene; and (6) Plaintiff does state a claim for which relief can be granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by alleging the existence of a de facto policy of discrimination, harassment, and deprivation;. The Court will now address each of the objections in turn.

         A. Bias Allegations

         Plaintiff's Objection to the Report and Recommendation contains several allegations of bias and misconduct with respect to the Chief Magistrate Judge. Obj'n to the Magistrate's R. & R., ¶¶ 1-14, Oct. 31, 2016, ECF No. 9 [hereinafter “Pl.'s Obj'n”]. Plaintiff has made substantially the same claims against the Chief Magistrate Judge in a previous lawsuit in this district. See Obj'ns to R. & R., Moses v. Smith, No. 2:16-cv-02693-STA-dkv (July 5, 2016), ECF No. 14. In an Order Adopting the Report and Recommendation in that case, another District Court Judge in this district fully addressed these objections and found them to be without merit. Moses v. Smith, No. 2:16-cv-02693-STA-dkv, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60953, at *1 (W.D. Tenn. Apr. 21, 2017). Given the striking similarities between the allegations made in that case and this one, including the identities of both individuals, this Court rejects Plaintiff's allegations here and incorporates Section II of the Order in case number 2:16-cv-02693-STA-dkv by reference. Id. at *2-3; see also Moses v. Shelby Cty., No. 2:16-cv-02253-JDT-dkv, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89860, at *4 (W.D. Tenn. July 12, 2016) (rejecting similar allegations of bias made by Plaintiff against the Chief Magistrate Judge).

         B. The Report and Recommendation Goes Beyond the Complaint

         Plaintiff next objects to the Chief Magistrate Judge's references to and reliance upon other cases involving Plaintiff. Pl.'s Obj'n, ¶¶ 15-17. The actions of the Chief Magistrate Judge in doing so are not only appropriate but necessary in this instance. See Bailey v. City of Ann Arbor, 860 F.3d 382, 386 (6th Cir. 2017) (quoting New Eng. Health Care Emps. Pension Fund v. Ernst & Young, LLP, 336 F.3d 495, 501 (6th Cir. 2003)) (stating that a court ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motion “may consider materials in addition to the complaint if such materials are public records or are otherwise appropriate for the taking of judicial notice”). Screening a pro se Complaint for potential issues involving res judicata, the appropriateness of abstention, or frivolity necessarily involves some knowledge of prior or contemporaneous actions. Therefore, the Court finds this objection to be without merit.

         C. Res Judicata ...

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