United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action was referred to the Honorable Cheryl A. Eifert, United
States Magistrate Judge, for submission to this Court of
proposed findings of fact and recommendation for disposition,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Following an
initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the
Magistrate Judge has submitted proposed findings and
recommends that the Court dismiss the Complaint with
prejudice, with the exception of Plaintiff's claims
relating to the arrest warrant, which she recommends should
be dismissed without prejudice. Neither party has filed any
objections to the Magistrate Judge's Findings and
Recommendations. However, Plaintiff, acting pro se,
has filed a Motion for Leave to Amend his Complaint. ECF No.
filed his action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting
that “Defendants Christopher D. Chiles
(“Chiles”), a prosecuting attorney, and Sean
Hammers (“Hammers”), an assistant prosecuting
attorney, conspired to knowingly and intentionally present
perjured testimony from Defendant Ryan Bentley
(“Bentley”), a city police officer, to the grand
jury in Plaintiff's state criminal case on June 19,
2012.” PF&R, at 2, ECF No. 6 (citation
omitted). Additionally, Plaintiff claims that his arrest
warrant was based upon the same false information.
Id. Plaintiff sues each Defendant in his individual
capacity for monetary damages. Id. at 2-3.
Proposed Findings and Recommendations, the Magistrate Judge
found that all three Defendants are entitled to absolute
immunity against the claims made by Plaintiff with respect to
the alleged perjured testimony being presented to the grand
jury. Id. at 5-6. With respect to Plaintiff's
allegations of false arrest and false imprisonment, the
Magistrate Judge found the claims “are undoubtedly a
thinly veiled collateral attack on [Plaintiff's] criminal
conviction, which is barred by Heck [v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477, 484-87 (1994)].” Id. at 7.
Plaintiff does not object to any of these findings and, in
fact, states in his Motion for Leave to Amend that the
“PF&R has correctly determined that Plaintiff's
Complaint is essentially an attack upon his criminal
conviction pursuant to [Heck].” Motion for
Leave to Am., at 2, ECF No. 7.
Plaintiff argues he should be able to amend his Complaint
because the state courts have refused to address his request
for habeas corpus relief, and he has no way to overturn his
conviction. In his amendment, he seeks to add Defendants in
their official capacity, to remove his demands for monetary
damages, and to have this Court award him “Declaratory
Judgment . . . [d]efining . . . [his] rights in the future
and the substance of the violations committed.”
Prop. Am. Compl., at 6 & 7, ECF No. 7-1. He also
seeks unspecified injunctive relief and any other appropriate
relief. Plaintiff, however, dropped his claim for false
arrest and imprisonment based upon his arrest warrant.
See Compl. (“claim 6”), at 13-15, ECF
No. 2, 20-22; Prop. Am. Compl. (“claim six
redacted in its entirety”), at 9, ECF No. 7-1, at
ruling on a motion to amend, Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure provides that “[t]he court should
freely give leave when justice so requires.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 (a)(2). Leave “‘should be denied
only when the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing
party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving
party, or the amendment would . . . [be] futile.'”
Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006)
(quoting Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503,
509 (4th Cir. 1986)). In this case, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's proposed amendment is futile.
the Court finds that it is unclear what injunctive relief or
declaratory judgment Plaintiff seeks from these Defendants.
To the extent Plaintiff seeks a ruling by the state court on
a habeas petition, Plaintiff cannot obtain such relief from
these Defendants. Additionally, if Plaintiff is seeking a
declaration that Defendants' grand jury actions were
improper, such an attack, as explained by the Magistrate
Judge, is precluded because all three Defendants are entitled
to absolute immunity on that issue, and Plaintiff's
proposed amendments do not change the fact that absolute
immunity bars his claims. Therefore, the Court finds that the
claims in the proposed Amended Complaint are futile.
given the futility of the proposed Amended Complaint, the
Court DENIES Plaintiff s Motion for Leave to
Amend. ECF No. 7. Having no objections to the Proposed
Findings and Recommendations of the Magistrate Judge, the
Court further accepts and incorporates them herein and
DISMISSES the Complaint, with
prejudice, with the exception of Plaintiffs claims
relating to the arrest warrant, which is DISMISSED,
without prejudice. The Court further
ORDERS this action be
REMOVED from the docket of this Court.
Court DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of
this Order to counsel of record and any unrepresented
Plaintiff also removed his “claim
5” for “executing a scheme to deprive another the
right to honest services.” Compl., at ...