United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
WELDON B. BRYANT, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL PRITCHETT, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law. The motion is
granted. Additionally, the Court will order the Clerk to
issue service of process.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a
complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a
complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions"
and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action [that are] supported by mere conclusory
statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim
for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of
misconduct." Id. at 679. "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."
Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief [is] a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
brings this action against the Honorable Michael Pritchett,
Circuit Court Judge, 36th Judicial Circuit, and a John Doe
sheriffs deputy. Plaintiff alleges that he attended the plea
hearing of Alyson Walker before Judge Pritchett in July 2015.
He claims that Judge Pritchett accused him of "trying to
pick up young jailed women, " and told Plaintiff to
leave the courtroom. As he was leaving the courtroom, Judge
Pritchett said he did not want Plaintiff in his courtroom
unless he had business before the court.
3, 2016, Plaintiff attended a proceeding for his fiance,
again before Judge Pritchett. He says Judge Pritchett called
him to the bench and accused him of passing of contraband to
prisoners. Judge Pritchett ordered him out of the courtroom
says that Defendant John Doe followed him out of the
courtroom and informed him that Judge Pritchett had banned
him from the courthouse. Doe told Plaintiff not to return to
the courthouse unless he was summoned by the court.
seeks declaratory and monetary relief.
official-capacity claims are frivolous and must be dismissed.
See Will v. Michigan Dept of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 71 (1989) (state employees); Monell v. Dep't of
Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978) (action
against municipal employees in their official capacities
cannot lie absent allegations of policy or custom of
are "entitled to absolute immunity for all judicial
actions that are not 'taken in a complete absence of all
jurisdiction."' Perm v. United States, 335
F.3d 786, 789 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991)). And under some
circumstances judges can order that criminal proceedings be
closed. See Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia,
448 U.S. 555, 580-81 (1980) (First Amendment right to attend
criminal trials is not absolute). In this action, however,
Plaintiff alleges that Judge Pritchett ordered him removed
from future criminal proceedings. Moreover, he
allegedly banned Plaintiff from the courthouse entirely
absent summons from the court. While the injunction, as
alleged, was apparently imposed by Judge Pritchett, it is
unknown whether any official factual findings were made.
Additionally, it is not obvious that Judge Pritchett has the
jurisdiction to impose such an injunction. Therefore, the
Court will order the Clerk to serve Judge Pritchett with
process in his individual capacity.
general, fictitious parties may not be named as defendants in
a civil action. Phelps v. United States, 15 F.3d
735, 739 (8th Cir. 1994). An action may proceed against a
party whose name is unknown, however, if the complaint makes
sufficiently specific allegations to permit the identity of
the party to be ascertained after reasonable discovery.
Munz v. Parr, 758 F.2d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 1985).
In this case, John Doe Defendant's name should be
ascertainable during discovery. As a result, the Court will
not dismiss Defendant John Doe at this time.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs motion to proceed in