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Curtis v. Ted House

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

September 6, 2019

DUSTIN PATRICK CURTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
TED HOUSE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Dustin Patrick Curtis, an inmate at the St. Charles County Department of Corrections, for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed the motion and the financial information therein, the Court has determined to grant the motion, and assess an initial partial filing fee of $4.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss the complaint, without prejudice.

         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 prison account to pay the entire fee, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee and after payment of that fee, the prisoner will be required to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to his 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.

         In the instant motion, plaintiff avers he receives $20 per month. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $4.00, which is twenty percent of plaintiff s average monthly deposit. Any claim that plaintiff is unable to pay that amount must be supported by a certified copy of plaintiff s institution account statement.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

          Under 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 may be granted. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief may 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679. The court must assume the veracity of well-pleaded facts, but need not accept as true "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         This Court must liberally construe complaints filed by laypeople. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This means that "if the essence of an allegation is discernible," the court should "construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework." Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). However, even pro se complaints must 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). Federal courts are not required to assume facts that are not alleged, Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15, nor are they required to interpret procedural rules so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113(1993).

         Background

         Review of the State of Missouri's online docketing system shows that plaintiff is a defendant in a criminal case that is currently pending in the Circuit Court for St. Charles County. See State v. Dustin Patrick Curtis, No. 1811-CR00257-01 (11th Jud. Cir. 2018). In that case, plaintiff is facing charges of kidnapping, rape or attempted rape, domestic assault, and unlawful use of a weapon. The Honorable Ted House, who is named as a defendant in the instant matter, is the presiding judge.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Judge House, the St. Charles County Circuit Court, Sarah Hunter, Tammy Smiley and Dr. Lisa Mathews. Plaintiff sues the defendants in their official and individual capacities. His claims arise under the Sixth Amendment. He alleges as follows.

         Judge House ordered plaintiff to undergo a mental health examination to determine his competency to stand trial. Plaintiff filed a motion asking that his lawyer be present during the ...


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