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Cramer v. State

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

July 12, 2018




         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 19, 2017, the pro se Plaintiff initiated this case by filing a civil rights complaint against the State of West Virginia pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Liberally construed, the Plaintiff is alleging the State of West Virginia has twice filed the same charges against him, which he says constitutes double jeopardy and is a violation of his right to due process. On January 8, 2018, an order was entered granting the Plaintiff leave to file without prepayment of fees. This matter is before the undersigned for an initial review and report and recommendation pursuant to LR PL P 2 and 28 U.S.C. §1915(e).[1]


         Construing his complaint liberally, the Plaintiff alleges that in December of 2016, he was arrested in Belmont County, Ohio based on a warrant from Ohio County, West Virginia. The Plaintiff alleges he was released on January 4, 2017, 30 days after his arrest, and was never taken to West Virginia during that time. Upon his release, he was told that the warrant from Ohio County, West Virginia, which Plaintiff says was the basis for him being held for 30 days, was still active, and that if he were to go to West Virginia, he risked being arrested. The Plaintiff allegedly asked a deputy what would happen if he were to be pulled over in the state of Ohio. The deputy reportedly told him that the officer who pulled him over would see the warrant, check with Ohio County, West Virginia to see if they were going to come get him, then ultimately the officer would end up releasing him.

         Despite allegedly being told this, the Plaintiff says that in early September of 2017, he was arrested at his home in Ohio pursuant to the same warrant and was again taken to Belmont County Jail in Belmont County, Ohio. Plaintiff alleges he then appeared before a Judge in Ohio, at which time the prosecutor told the Judge he was being held on the same warrant as before, and asked the Judge to grant him asylum. The Judge instead asked the prosecutor to find out from Ohio County, West Virginia whether they intended to extradite the Plaintiff. The Judge set a hearing date for four weeks later. Plaintiff next says that four weeks later, he was served with a requisition for a warrant from West Virginia.

         The Plaintiff contends that if an individual is released from jail while being held on a detainer from another state, the state that issued the warrant must drop the warrant. Additionally, the Plaintiff argues that his being held for an estimated 150 days total on two separate occasions violates both his Fifth Amendment right to due process, and his constitutional protection against double jeopardy. As a result he is asking for an order from the Court stating that the State of West Virginia must drop the charges against him, and is seeking monetary damages in the amount of $1, 500, 000 for lost wages as well as pain and suffering.


         Because the Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the complaint to determine whether it is frivolous or malicious. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to perform a judicial review of cases brought in forma pauperis 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.

         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). However, the Court must read pro se allegations in a liberal fashion. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A complaint which fails to state a claim is not automatically frivolous. See Neitzke at 328. Frivolity dismissals should only be ordered when the legal theories are “indisputably meritless, ” or when the claims rely on factual allegations which are “clearly baseless.” See Neitzke at 327 and Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992). This includes claims in which the plaintiff has little or no chance of success. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976).

         Pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than those drafted by attorneys, and the court is obliged to construe liberally such complaints. However, in Bell Atlantic Corp. V. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), the Supreme Court observed that a case should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if, viewing the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint does not contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” While the complaint need not assert “detailed factual allegations.” it must contain “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Id. at 555.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         42 U.S.C. §1983 provides as follows:

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, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was ...

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