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Robinson v. The Lancaster County Court

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

March 14, 2019

ERIC M. ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
THE LANCASTER COUNTY COURT, Court Rep. for State of Neb; THE LANCASTER COUNTY DISTRICT COURT, Court Rep. for State of Neb.; NEBRASKA COURT OF APPEALS, Court Rep. for the State of Neb.; and THE NEBRASKA SUPREME COURT, Court Rep. for the State of Neb; Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RICHARD G. KOPF SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Eric M. Robinson (“Robinson”) filed a Complaint (filing no. 1) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has also filed additional motions and supplemental materials. (Filing Nos. 16, 18, 20, 21, & 23-27.) The court granted Robinson leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 15.) The court now conducts an initial review of Robinson's pleadings to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT AND ADDITIONAL PLEADINGS

         Robinson filed his Complaint on March 7, 2018, seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Lancaster County and District Courts of Nebraska, the Nebraska Court of Appeals, and the Nebraska Supreme Court (collectively “the Nebraska state courts”). In his 65-page Complaint, Robinson alleges that the Nebraska state courts have violated his “First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievance by intentionally neglecting said courts' obligation to Article I, Section 13 of the Nebraska State Constitution to, without delay, remedy matters of [Robinson's] violated 6th and 14th Amendment right to effective counsel in order to secure the right to due process of law fair trial resources” for overturning Robinson's unlawful convictions. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 4-5.)[1]

         Robinson also claims he was unlawfully incarcerated as a result of various state court criminal proceedings and the Nebraska state courts have acted to deny him the “defense owed.” (See id. at CM/ECF pp. 12-13, 15, 20.) In particular, Robinson asserts that Judge Acton of the Lancaster County Court “forged . . . a CR14-9536 Case Action Summary” on September 16, 2014, “to fraud the satisfaction of attorney withdraw[al] matters that were not adjudged by Judge Acton in concerns with Sandford Pollack's withdraw[al] . . . on [September 13, ] 2014, that Judge Foster sustained at a formal hearings conference on [September 15, ] 2014, ” at which Robinson appeared. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 21-22.) Robinson alleges Judge Acton's “forgery” appointed Bill Chapin when no motion for substitute counsel or order appointing replacement counsel had been made at the September 15, 2014 formal hearings conference and thereby denied Robinson's right to proceed pro se. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 22.) However, Robinson also alleges that Chapin was bound to Robinson as his “counsel of choice” in Lancaster County Court Case CR15-13365 and asserts he was owed the counsel of his choice in his other state criminal proceedings. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 27-33.)

         Robinson alleges he has suffered a “broad spectrum” of injuries based on Judge Acton's “malfeasance that recruited and redirected [Robinson's] counsel of his choice at court cost, Bill Chapin.” (Id. at CM/ECF p. 38.) As relief, Robinson seeks to have “all of [his] criminal convictions attached to Judge Acton, . . . Judge Phillips, . . . Judge Yardley, [and] Judge Otte from 2014 [until] now . . . abolished and counsel of choice at whatever the cost to the state . . . awarded immediately.” (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 43-44.) Robinson also requests damages in the amount of the “daily per diem to cover my living expenses, equivalent to the daily unlawful incarceration pay rate while [he is] pursuing damages from the State of Nebraska.” (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 44-45.)

         Attached to Robinson's Complaint are approximately 26 pages consisting of various state county, district, and appellate court records from Robinson's criminal proceedings in those courts along with Robinson's handwritten commentary. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 66-92.) In addition, Robinson has filed a supplement (filing no. 23) and eight motions for supplemental filings (filing nos. 16, 18, 20, 21, & 24-27)[2]totaling approximately 342 pages and consisting of various state court records from Robinson's county, district, and appellate court proceedings along with Robinson's handwritten or typed commentary, ramblings, and frustrations related to those various proceedings. With the exception of one motion (filing no. 20), all of Robinson's supplemental pleadings and motions are identical to pleadings filed by Robinson in his other civil action at Case Number 8:18CV73, in which Robinson raised claims similar to those here. The court recently dismissed Robinson's action at 8:18CV73 without prejudice because, inter alia, Robinson's claims were barred under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). (Filing No. 37, No. 8:18CV73.)

         As additional background, the court notes that Robinson previously filed an action in this court at Case Number 8:17CV204 seeking a writ of mandamus related to his state criminal proceedings which the court dismissed without prejudice. (See Filing Nos. 28 & 29, No. 8:17CV204.) Robinson also currently has other pending cases in this court related to his state criminal proceedings. See 4:18CV3154 (§ 2241 habeas), 8:19CV42 (§ 2241 habeas), and 8:19CV43 (§ 2254 habeas).

         II. APPLICABLE STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         The 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. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Pro se 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.”).

         “The 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).

         Liberally construed, Robinson alleges federal constitutional claims. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the United States Constitution or created by federal statute and also must show that the alleged deprivation was caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Buckley v. Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993).

         III. ...


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