United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff
Willie Cox, Jr. for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in
this civil action. Upon consideration of the motion and the
financial information provided in support, the Court
concludes that plaintiff is unable to pay the filing fee. The
motion will therefore be granted. Additionally, the Court
will dismiss the complaint, without prejudice.
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 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).
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
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).
states he brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against the City of Brentwood. Plaintiff asserts that an
unnamed “attending judge” in the City of
Brentwood's Municipal Court denied his request to remove
his municipal court cases to federal court. Plaintiff
believes that this was in violation of his civil rights.
alleges in his complaint that he was subjected to malicious
prosecution, lack of probable cause, violations of his due
process and Fourth Amendment rights, as well as breaches of
his fiduciary duties. He further purports that the citations
given to him by Officer Lang, see Cox v. Lang,
4:19-CV-2585 NAB (E.D.Mo). were fraudulent documents.
Plaintiff seeks a total of $4.5 million in damages.
plaintiff has not specifically named the judge who denied his
request to remove his municipal cases, the Court will address
any claim plaintiff could have against that judge should he
wish to bring one.
immunity grants absolute immunity to judges from civil
lawsuits based on alleged judicial misconduct, subject to two
exceptions: (1) when a judge does not act within his judicial
capacity or (2) when a judge takes judicial action in the
complete absence of all jurisdiction. Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991). “[W]hether an act
by a judge is a ‘judicial' one relate[s] to the
nature of the act itself, i.e., whether it is a function
normally performed by a judge, and to the expectations of the
parties, i.e., whether they dealt with the judge in his
judicial capacity.” Id. at 12. The municipal
court judge mentioned in plaintiff's complaint took
actions judicial in nature - he or she denied plaintiff's
request to remove his municipal actions to federal court.
immunity applies “even when the judge is accused of
acting maliciously.” Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S.
547, 554 (1967). Because the municipal court judge acted
within his judicial capacity and within his court's
proper jurisdiction, he is granted absolute immunity from
civil suit as to plaintiff's claims against him. As such,
plaintiff's claims against a Brentwood municipal court
judge, should he choose to bring them, are frivolous.
are plaintiff's claims against the City of Brentwood
legally frivolous. A local governing body such as the City of
Brentwood can be sued directly under § 1983. See
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York,
436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). In order to prevail on this type of
claim, the plaintiff must establish the municipality's
liability for the alleged conduct. Kelly, 813 F.3d
at 1075. Such liability may attach if the constitutional
violation “resulted from (1) an official municipal
policy, (2) an unofficial custom, or (3) a deliberately
indifferent failure to train or supervise.” Mick v.
Raines, 883 F.3d 1075, 1089 (8th Cir. 2018).
See also Marsh v. Phelps Cty., 902 F.3d 745, 751
(8th Cir. 2018) (recognizing “claims
challenging an ...