United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Bluefield
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FABER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Standing Order, the action was referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Omar J. Aboulhosn for submission of findings
of fact and recommendations regarding disposition pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn
submitted his Findings and Recommendation
(“PF&R”) to the court on November 8, 2018, in
which he recommended that the court dismiss plaintiff's
complaint and motion for a temporary restraining order and
remove this matter from the court's docket.
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b),
the parties were allotted fourteen days plus three mailing
days in which to file any objections to Magistrate Judge
Aboulhosn's Findings and Recommendations. On November 19,
2018, plaintiff filed his objections to the PF&R. (ECF
No. 4). On that same day, he also filed a request for the
appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 5). Thereafter, on December
3, 2018, plaintiff filed a “request to amend his
complain[t] and temporary restraining order”. (ECF No.
6). With respect to plaintiff's objections, where they
are responsive to the PF&R, the court has conducted a
de novo review.
pro se complaint arises out of proceedings occurring in
Mercer County court on October 11, 2018. Davis alleges that
on that date he appeared for a preliminary hearing before
Magistrate Mike Flanigan. According to plaintiff, Flanigan
bound him over to circuit court without sufficient evidence.
Davis also complains about the lack of treatment for his
medical ailments while in state custody. In his objections,
plaintiff also asserts that he was brutally beaten while
PF&R, Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn found that the complaint
was subject to dismissal because the sole defendant named is
Magistrate Judge Mike Flanigan. As Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn
noted, the claims against Magistrate Flanigan are barred by
the doctrine of judicial immunity. As to plaintiff's
challenges to his ongoing state criminal charges, the
PF&R recommended that the court abstain from hearing
those claims pursuant to the abstention doctrine set forth in
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Finally, with
respect to plaintiff's allegations regarding inadequate
medical care, Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn noted:
To the extent Plaintiff believes he is being denied adequate
medical care at the Southern Regional Jail, Plaintiff should
file a form Complaint initiating a new civil action and name
as defendants those individuals responsible for failing to
provide such medical care. Plaintiff must also state what
constitutional, statutory or common law rights he believes
each defendant has violated and support each claim with
specific factual allegations about each defendant's
actions or omissions, and allege, with some degree of
particularity, how each named defendant was involved in the
alleged deprivation of his rights. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to mail [ ] a copy of a form
Complaint and a blank Application to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis to Plaintiff.
ECF No. 3 at p.2 n.2.
objections fail to address the PF&R's conclusions
regarding Flanigan's well-established immunity to suit.
“As early as 1872, the Court recognized that it was
‘a general principal of the highest importance to the
proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in
exercising the authority vested in him, [should] be free to
act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of
personal consequences to himself.'” Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355 (1978) (quoting Bradley
v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335, 347 (1872)). For that reason,
judges “are not liable to civil actions for their
judicial acts, even when such acts are in excess of their
jurisdiction, and are alleged to have been done maliciously
or corruptly.” Bradley, 13 Wall. 335, 351.
This judicial immunity applies even in suits brought pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Stump, 435 U.S. at 356.
“Few doctrines were more solidly established at common
law than the immunity of judges from liability for damages
for acts committed within their judicial jurisdiction.”
Pearson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967).
Judicial immunity applies even where a “judge is
accused of acting maliciously and corruptly, and it is not
for the protection or benefit of a malicious or corrupt
judge, but for the benefit of the public, whose interest it
is that the judge's should be at liberty to exercise
their functions with independence and without fear of
consequences.” Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,
12-13 (1991). Only when a judge has acted in “clear
absence of all jurisdiction” does judicial immunity not
attach to a judge's actions. Stump v. Sparkman,
435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978).
determining whether a judge's action is a judicial one
for purposes of immunity, a court is to consider “the
nature of the act itself, i.e., whether it is a function
normally performed by a judge, and [ ] the expectations of
the parties, i.e., whether they dealt with the judge in his
official capacity.” Id. at 362.
“Magistrates are judicial officers, and are thus
entitled to absolute immunity under the same conditions as
are judges.” King v. Myers, 973 F.2d 354, 356
(4th Cir. 1992) (citing Pressly v. Gregory, 831 F.2d
514, 517 (4th Cir. 1987)).
allegations make clear that all of the actions taken by
Magistrate Flanigan in the state proceedings were taken in
the course of his official capacity as a magistrate in Mercer
County Magistrate Court. None of the allegations in
plaintiff's complaint can be construed as alleging action
taken outside of his official capacity nor is there any
indication that Flanigan lacked jurisdiction to hear the case
of which plaintiff complains. Accordingly, plaintiff's
objections are OVERRULED.[*]
foregoing reasons, the court adopts the Findings and
Recommendations of Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn,
DISMISSES plaintiff's complaint and
motion for a temporary restraining order and directs the
Clerk to remove this matter from the court's docket.
Because plaintiff's proposed amended complaint does not
address the deficiencies outlined in the PF&R and would
therefore be futile, the motion to amend (ECF No. 6) is
DENIED without prejudice. Finally, the
motion/request for counsel (ECF No. 5) is
DENIED as well.
Clerk is directed to send copies of this Memorandum Opinion
and Order to counsel of record and to plaintiff, pro se.