I must screen prisoner complaints that seek relief against a government entity, officer, or employee. I will dismiss any part of a complaint raising claims that: (a) are legally frivolous or malicious; (b) fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (c) seek money from a defendant who is immune from paying damages. A claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Plaintiff Parnell R. May ("Plaintiff") alleges that Defendant Marianne Satterfield ("Defendant"), a prosecuting attorney, violated his constitutional rights in a pending state-court criminal action by amending the felony information against Plaintiff to include capital murder charges after a jury trial for murder in the first degree ended in mistrial. Plaintiff's claims against Defendant should be stayed. In Younger v. Harris, the Supreme Court held that federal courts should abstain from interfering in ongoing state proceedings. The Court explained the rationale for such abstention as follows:
Doc. Nos. 1, 3.
[The concept of federalism] represent[s] . . . a system in which there is sensitivity to the legitimate interests of both State and National Governments, and in which the National Government, anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal rights and federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways that will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the States.
Id. at 44.
The Younger abstention doctrine is appropriate where: (1) there is an ongoing state proceeding; (2) an important state interest is implicated; and (3) the plaintiff has an avenue for reviewing his constitutional claims in state court. Here, Arkansas has an important interest in adjudicating the charges against May, and he may raise the constitutional issues before the state court (and he already has). May has not pled any extraordinary circumstances that would warrant intervention in the state proceedings. When, as here, a plaintiff does not seek damages, his case should be dismissed under Younger, rather than stayed. Accordingly, May's complaint is administratively terminated until the criminal charges against him have been fully resolved.
State v. May, 60CR-17-169, Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Arkansas. Available at: https://caseinfo.arcourts.gov/cconnect/PROD/public/ck_public_qry_doct.cp_dktrpt_frames?backto=P&case_id=60CR-17-169&begin_date=&end_date=
Middlesex County Ethics Comm'n v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 435 (1982).
Night Clubs, Inc. v. City of Fort Smith, 163 F.3d 475, 481-82 (8th Cir. 1998). --------
The Clerk of the Court is directed to stay and administratively terminate this proceeding pending final disposition of May's criminal charges.
This case is subject to reopening upon May's filing of a motion to reopen the case after such final disposition.
I certify, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an in forma pauperis appeal of this order would not be taken in good faith.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 13th day of September, 2018.
/s/ Billy Roy Wilson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE