United States District Court, D. Nebraska
JOSEPH W. HIGGINS, Plaintiff,
CHIEF JUDGE OF THE NEBRASKA SUPREME COURT, in their official and individual capacity; HEAD CLERK OF THE NEBRASKA SUPREME COURT, in their official and individual capacity; THE ARRESTING OMAHA POLICE AND POLICE DEPARTMENT, in their official and individual capacity; PETE RICKETTS, Governor, in their official and individual capacity; and BRAD ASHFORD, Senator, in their official and individual capacity; Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
SMITH CAMP CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the initial review of Plaintiff
Joseph Higgins's Amended Complaint, ECF No. 14.
Higgins filed his initial complaint, ECF No. 1, while
incarcerated at either the Lincoln Correctional Facility or
the Lincoln Treatment Center. He alleged that he was charged
with a crime for which there was insufficient evidence to
proceed to trial; that he was denied a preliminary hearing;
that he was denied his right to a speedy trial; and that he
was denied his right of appeal and/or issuance of a writ. He
also stated that his mental health history was shared without
his consent, and he was given a “fabricated”
mental health diagnosis. Id. ¶ 5, Page ID 6.
claimed that all of these actions were undertaken by
Defendants as part of a civil conspiracy to deprive him of
due process and his rights under the Fourth and Fifth
Amendment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). The
Complaint instructed the Court “not to construe this 42
U.S.C. Section 1985(3) complaint to be something other than
[a] 42 U.S.C. [§] 1985(3) complaint.” Id.
¶ 8, Page ID 8. The Complaint sought $5 million from
Defendants “each both in their official and individual
capacity; an immediate release from custody; and restoration
of any property loss . . . .” Id.
Higgins filed his Complaint in forma pauperis, the Court
conducted an initial review in accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e). See ECF No. 13. The Court determined
that the Complaint failed to meet the pleading standards of
42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) and granted Higgins leave to amend.
filed his Amended Complaint, ECF No. 14, on March 15, 2017.
The Amended Complaint appears intended to supplement, rather
than supersede, the original Complaint. The Court will
interpret the Amended Complaint as supplemental so as to
liberally construe the pleadings. See NECivR
15.1(b); see also Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 849 (8th Cir. 2014)) (holding that
pro se complaints must be “construed liberally”).
Amended Complaint states that Defendants “provided
[Higgins] absolutely no preliminary hearing through force and
intimidation” and that Higgins was “ruled as
incompetent and sent to [Lincoln Regional Center]”
without evidence. Amended Compl. ¶ 2, Page ID 45. The
Amended Complaint further alleges that “the supreme
court and the entire government workers through paperwork and
conduct fail to act.” Id. ¶ 4, Page ID
45. Lastly, the Amended Complaint indicates that Higgins has
been released from custody.
documents filed with the Amended Complaint show that the
Douglas County Attorney filed two informations on August 9,
2016, id., Page ID 49 & 50, in the Douglas
County District Court, each charging Higgins with one count
of making terroristic threats, a Class IIIA felony, in
violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-311.01(1)(a) (Reissue
2008). On August 16, 2016, Higgins, through his attorney,
filed a motion in the Douglas County District seeking an
examination to determine Higgins's competence to stand
trial, pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-1823 (Reissue
2008). On August 16, 2016, the Douglas County District Court
issued two orders, ECF No.14, Page ID 47 & 48, ordering
Higgins transferred from the Douglas County Correctional
Facility to the Lincoln Regional Center to evaluate his
mental competency for trial.
November 2, 2016, the Douglas County District Court entered
an order, id., Page ID 52, finding Higgins
incompetent to stand trial, and ordering that he be held at
the Lincoln Regional Treatment Center until he became
competent. Id. The court also authorized the Lincoln
Regional Center to administer psychiatric medication to
Higgins in order to improve his mental health, and ordered
the center to submit a written report every six months, after
which the court would schedule a hearing to review
Higgins's competency. Id.
Court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The Court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim; that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted; or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian, 760 F.3d at 848
(quoting Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th
Cir. 1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held ...