United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER TO MODIFY THE DOCKET, DENYING AS UNNECESSARY
MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND
GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND
D. TODD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 5, 2019, Plaintiff Mickey Shanklin, inmate number
117589, who is currently incarcerated at the Bledsoe County
Correctional Complex (BCCX) in Pikeville, Tennessee, filed a
pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis.(ECF Nos. 1 & 3.) Shanklin filed three
additional pro se complaints and accompanying
motions to proceed in forma pauperis. Two of those
complaints and the accompanying motions were opened as case
numbers 19-1193 and 19-1205, and the third was docketed as an
amended complaint in this case. (ECF No. 5.) Because all the
complaints alleged similar claims about Shanklin's
state-court criminal proceedings, the Court consolidated the
four complaints into this action and directed the Clerk to
close case numbers 19-1193 and 19-1205. (ECF No.
The Court also ordered Shanklin to comply with the
requirements of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b) or to pay
the full $400 filing fee. (Id. at PageID 24-25.)
After Shanklin submitted the necessary documents, the Court
issued an order granting leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 12.) The Clerk shall
list the Defendants as the State of Tennessee, Assistant
District Attorney General (ADA) Shaun Brown, Public Defender
Gregory Gookin, Jackson Metro Narcotics Agent Mike Arnold,
and Circuit Court Judge Don Allen.
claims address his state criminal proceedings, conviction,
and sentence. He alleges that Defendant ADA Brown falsely
charged him with unspecified crimes. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.)
Shanklin alleges that his attorney, Public Defender Gookin,
provided him ineffective assistance and “let me get
falsely convicted and sentenced to 30 yrs.” (ECF No. 5
at PageID 14.) Shanklin contests video evidence presented at
his trial and contends that he was not given a fair trial.
(ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) He asserts that Defendant Arnold
altered the video evidence and “put my life in danger
with my Defendant in the case by turning us against each
other.” (ECF No. 8 at PageID 27.) He further contends
that Judge Allen “let the State of Tenn convict me on
charges that were not to be placed on me and that were
bogus.” (ECF No. 9 at PageID 33.)
seeks a retrial, termination of the employment of Defendants
Brown, Gookin, and Arnold, and unspecified monetary
compensation. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 3; ECF No. 5 at PageID 15;
ECF No. 8 at PageID 28; ECF No. 9 at PageID 34.)
Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to
dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the
(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).
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). The Court accepts the complaint's
“well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and
then determines whether the allegations “plausibly
suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v.
Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations
“are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ”
and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual
allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although
a complaint need only contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless
requires factual allegations to make a
“‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion,
of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 n.3.
se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and
should therefore be liberally construed.”
Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v.
Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro
se litigants, however, are not exempt from the
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989);
see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612,
613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro
se complaint for failure to comply with “unique
pleading requirements” and stating “a court
cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not
spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v.
Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169
(6th Cir. 1975))).
filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress . . . .
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two
elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the
“Constitution and laws” of the United States (2)
committed by a defendant acting under color of state law.
Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150
extent Shanklin seeks to sue Defendants Brown and Allen in
their official capacities, his claims are construed as
against the State of Tennessee. See Will v. Mich. Dep't
of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). The Eleventh
Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that
“[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be
construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced
or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of
another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign
State.” U.S. Const. amend. XI. The Eleventh Amendment
has been construed to prohibit citizens from suing their own
states in federal court. Welch v. Tex. Dep't of
Highways & Pub. Transp., 483 U.S. 468, 472 (1987);
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465
U.S. 89, 100 (1984); see also Va. Office for Protection
& Advocacy v. Stewart, 563 U.S. 247, 253-54 (2011)
(“A State may waive its sovereign immunity at its
pleasure, and in some circumstances Congress may abrogate it
by appropriate legislation. But absent waiver or valid
abrogation, federal courts may not entertain a private
person's suit against a State.” (citations
omitted)). Tennessee has not waived its sovereign immunity
and therefore may not be sued for damages. See Tenn.
Code Ann. § 20-13-102(a). Moreover, a state is not a
person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Lapides v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga.,
535 U.S. 613, 617 (2002); Will, 491 U.S. at 71.
Supreme Court has clarified, however, that “a state
official in his or her official capacity, when sued for
injunctive relief, would be a person under § 1983
because ‘official-capacity actions for prospective
relief are not treated as actions against the
State.'” Will, 491 U.S. at 71 n.10
(quoting Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 167 n. 14
(1985), and Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60
(1908)); see also Thiokol Corp. v. Dep't of Treasury,
State of Mich., Revenue Div., 987 F.2d 376, 381 (6th
Cir. 1993) (“[T]he [eleventh] amendment does not