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Hill v. City of St. Louis

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 15, 2015

GREGORY A. HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RODNEY W. SIPPEL, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff (registration no. #169814), an inmate at Correctional Center, for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee [Doc. #2]. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $6.32. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court finds that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), a prisoner bringing a civil action in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount of the filing fee. If the prisoner has insufficient funds in his or her prison account to pay the entire fee, the Court must assess and, when funds exist, collect an initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of (1) the average monthly deposits in the prisoner's account, or (2) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the prior six-month period. After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner is required to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The agency having custody of the prisoner will forward these monthly payments to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds $10, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his complaint. A review of plaintiff's account indicates an average monthly deposit of $31.58, and an average monthly balance of $14.41. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $6.32, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis in either law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007).

In reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The Court must also weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

The Complaint

Plaintiff brings this action alleging what he purports to be violations of his civil rights. Plaintiff first invokes the jurisdiction of 28 U.S.C. § 1343, asserting that he is entitled to seek redress for deprivations he allegedly suffered when certain jurors on his criminal jury were struck during voir dire. Unsurprisingly, plaintiff raises challenges pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).

Plaintiff next invokes the jurisdiction of the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 et seq., and moves the Court to declare that pursuant to the Supreme Court case of Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400 (1991), he should be allowed to bring a Declaratory Judgment on behalf of an alternative juror who was excluded from the jury at his criminal trial, to assert race discrimination rights on her behalf, and thus, raise a collateral attack on his own conviction.

The relief sought by plaintiff is as follows: (1) a declaratory judgment stating that plaintiff has a liberty interest in Missouri Revised Statute § 494.400 et seq. (preemptory system) not to have "his jurors" struck pursuant to race; (2) a declaratory judgment that all citizens have a constitutional right to participate in their state-provided jury selection procedures without discrimination; (3) a declaratory judgment entitling plaintiff to relief pursuant to Missouri Revised Statute § 494.465.1 and Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400 (1991), i.e., quashing or overruling plaintiff's criminal indictment; (4) declaring plaintiff's criminal conviction overruled and/or reversed or expunged; and (5) a mandatory injunction to George Lombardi, the Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, requiring him to release plaintiff until he can be retried by a "jury free from racial discrimination."

The Criminal Case and its Progeny

In order to discern the substance of plaintiff's allegations, it is necessary to review plaintiff's criminal case, as well as his direct appeals and ...


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