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Baker v. Laconte

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

April 16, 2018

IRVIN JAYOINE LEE BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
PIERRE LACONTE, Acting Residential Re-entry Manager, EMILY GILLESPIE, Director of Dismas Charities Clarksburg, Defendants.

          Stamp Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JAMES E. SEIBERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         On July 31, 2017, the pro se Plaintiff, who was then a federal prisoner incarcerated at West Virginia's Central Regional Jail, initiated this case by filing an action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). ECF No. 1. On that same date, the Plaintiff filed a motion to proceed without prepayment of fees together with his Prisoner Trust Account Report. ECF Nos. 2, 4. On August 23, 2017, the Court entered an order granting the Plaintiff's motion. ECF No. 7. The Plaintiff paid the required initial partial filing fee on September 5, 2017. This matter is now pending before the undersigned for an initial review and Report and Recommendation pursuant to LR PL P 2 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         II. FACTUAL HISTORY

         A. Underlying Criminal Conviction in the Northern District of West Virginia case number 3:14cr41.

         On July 22, 2014, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the Plaintiff was one of two defendants named in a five-count indictment which included a forfeiture allegation. On September 7, 2014, Plaintiff signed a plea agreement by which he agreed to plead guilty to Court Four of the indictment charging him with distribution of a quantity of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 (a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). ECF No. 43[1]. The plea agreement included a forfeiture provision in the amount of $16, 000. On September 15, 2014, Plaintiff entered a guilty plea pursuant to the terms of the agreement. ECF No. 44. On December 17, 2014, the District Court entered Judgment which sentenced Plaintiff to 63 months of incarceration, with credit for time served since August 15, 2014, followed by three years of supervised release. Id. at 2.

         B. The Bivens Complaint.

         The complaint is sparse at best. However, it appears that Plaintiff is complaining that he was removed from a halfway house program and placed in the regional jail before he had a disciplinary hearing. The complaint alleges three grounds for relief: (1) “Violation of due process”; (2) “Discrimination”; and (3) “Eighth Amendment”. ECF No. 1 at 7 - 8. For relief, the Plaintiff asks to be placed in another halfway house program[2]and be compensated for loss of wages and funds spent while at the regional jail.

         III. Standard of Review

         A. Pro Se Litigants.

         Because Petitioner is a prisoner seeking redress from a governmental entity or employee, the Court must review the complaint to determine whether it is frivolous or malicious. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court is required to perform a judicial review of certain suits brought by prisoners and must dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         Courts must read pro se allegations in a liberal fashion. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, a complaint is frivolous if it is without arguable merit either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (superseded by statute). The Supreme Court in Neitzke recognized that:

Section 1915(d)[3] is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit and because of the threat of sanctions for bringing vexatious suits under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. To this end, the statute accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual ...

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