United States District Court, E.D. Missouri
MICHAEL L. ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
MISSOURI STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, Defendant.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the filing of plaintiff's
complaint. Because of the nature of the filing of
plaintiff's complaint, and the fact that he has failed to
file it on a court-provided form, the Court will allow
plaintiff the opportunity to submit an amended complaint in
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
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 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 $10.00, until the
filing fee is fully paid. Id.
case, the Court will assess plaintiff an initial partial
filing fee of $1.00, as he has failed to submit a copy of his
prison account statement.
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 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. A pleading that offers “labels
and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do, ” nor
will a complaint suffice if it tenders bare assertions devoid
of “further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
conducting initial review pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the
Court must accept as true the allegations in the complaint,
and must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal
construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). However, the tenet that a court must accept the
allegations as true does not apply to legal conclusions,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, and affording a pro
se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does
not mean that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation
must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who
proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. U.S., 508
U.S. 106, 113 (1993). Even pro se complaints are
required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for
relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623
F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (federal
courts are not required to “assume facts that are not
alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would
have formed a stronger complaint”).
brings this action to redress violations of his civil rights,
and names the Missouri State Public Defender as the
defendant. Plaintiff alleges that he is not, and has not,
been adequately represented in his state criminal proceedings
by the Missouri Public Defenders Office. He believes he has
not had adequate assistance of counsel during his
proceedings, and he states that the counsel assigned to him
have been inadequate and “far below the
Strickland standard.” The Court has reviewed
plaintiff's state criminal history and found the
following. A jury found plaintiff guilty of first degree
statutory rape, second degree statutory rape, two counts of
first degree statutory sodomy, second degree statutory sodomy
and using a child in a sexual performance on January 12,
2012. See State v. Arnold, No. 09SG-CR01102-01
(24th Judicial Circuit, Saint Genevieve County
Court). He was sentenced to consecutive sentences of 75
years' imprisonment for his first degree statutory rape
and each count of first degree statutory sodomy and seven (7)
years' imprisonment for second degree statutory sodomy
and using a child in a sexual performance, for a total of 246
post-conviction motion court granted, in part,
plaintiff's post-conviction motion and vacated the 75
year sentences, but not the convictions, and remanded the
matter for “retrial as to punishment” on those
offenses. See State v. Arnold, No.
17SG-00064(24th Judicial Circuit, Saint Genevieve
County Court). Plaintiff waived his right to be resentenced
by a jury on November 14, 2016. Thus, plaintiff was
resentenced on that date to the same sentence. At the same
time, the Court denied plaintiff's claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel in his post-conviction 29.15 motion,
unequivocally finding that there was no ineffective
assistance of counsel. Judgment was formally filed on
December 18, 2017. State v. Arnold, No.
17SG-00064(24th Judicial Circuit, Saint Genevieve
appeal of his post-conviction motion for relief is currently
pending in the Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals.
See Arnold v. State, No. ED106313 (Mo.Ct.App.).
Further, plaintiff has a petition for writ of habeas corpus
brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 currently pending
in this Court relating to his underlying state criminal
conviction in which he is asserting claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel. See Arnold v. Wallace, No.
4:15-CV-1908 AGF (E.D.Mo.).
current complaint appears to be legally frivolous. It alleges
claims for ineffective assistance of counsel which are not
cognizable in a civil rights action. Moreover, plaintiff
currently has a habeas corpus action in this Court where he
is asserting these claims. Additionally, to the extent
plaintiff is attempting to bring claims against the specific
public defenders who have represented him in his criminal
proceedings, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, these claims
are legally frivolous. Generally, “a public defender
does not act under color of state law when performing a
lawyer's traditional functions as counsel to a defendant
in a criminal ...