United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf, Senior United States District Judge
filed her Complaint on January 25, 2018. (Filing No.
1.) She has been given leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Filing No. 6.) The court now conducts an
initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
seeks a declaratory judgment that Defendant “Judge
Randall” violated her constitutional rights to due
process and equal protection under the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments. Plaintiff alleges that she filed a petition for
replevin in the Douglas County District Court seeking an
accounting as to how much, if any, Plaintiff yet owed to
Sonny Gerber (“Gerber”) for a 2007 Chrysler 300,
which Plaintiff purchased from Gerber. (Filing No. 1 at
CM/ECF p.2.) In the course of presiding over
Plaintiff's replevin action, Judge Randall “threw
[Plaintiff] in jail for contempt of court . . . in violation
of the maxim that you can't get a criminal sanction out
of a civil proceeding.” (Id. at CM/ECF p.1.)
In addition, Plaintiff claims Judge Randall issued a warrant
for her arrest on the pretext that she had refused to turn
the aforementioned vehicle over to Gerber who had countersued
Plaintiff in the replevin action. (Id. at CM/ECF
p.3.) Plaintiff asks for “an injunction estopping
defendant, his successors in office and all persons acting in
active concert and participation with him, from further
violations of plaintiff's constitutional rights.”
(Id. at CM/ECF p.2.)
Complaint, Plaintiff specifically refers to the replevin
action by its case number, CI16-5509. (Id. at CM/ECF
p.3.) The state court records for this case, available to
this court online, show that judgment was entered against
Plaintiff on Gerber's counterclaim and Plaintiff's
appeal of this judgment is currently pending. The court takes
judicial notice of the state court records related to this
case in Valentine v. Gerber, No. CI16-5509, Douglas
County District Court of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Court of
Appeals appellate case records in A-18-134. See Stutzka
v. McCarville, 420 F.3d 757, 760 n.2 (8th Cir. 2005)
(court may take judicial notice of judicial opinions and
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON IN INITIAL REVIEW
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 v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (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 to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
indicates this is a “Ku Klux Action” (filing
no. 1), which, based on the conclusory allegations of
the Complaint, the court construes to be an action brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. “To state a claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of
a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United
States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.”
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
sues Judge Randall, a state district court judge, for
equitable relief. Thus, the court must first consider whether
Plaintiff's claims against Judge Randall are barred under
the doctrine of judicial immunity.
is immune from suit, including suits brought under section
1983 to recover for alleged deprivation of civil rights, in
all but two narrow sets of circumstances. Schottel v.
Young, 687 F.3d 370, 373 (8th Cir. 2012). “First,
a judge is not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions,
i.e., actions not taken in the judge's judicial capacity.
Second, a judge is not immune for actions, though judicial in
nature, taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction.” Id. (internal citations
omitted). An act is judicial if “it is one normally
performed by a judge and if the complaining party is dealing
with the judge in his judicial capacity.” Id.
(internal citations omitted). “[A] judge ...