United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
Jeremiah C. Lynch, United States Magistrate Judge
James Morrison, appearing pro se, commenced this action to
present allegations complaining about various events, and
Defendants' actions, that occurred during the course of
the following two legal proceedings: (1) criminal proceedings
prosecuted against Morrison; and (2) hearings conducted by
the Montana Department of Family Services relative to his
parental rights with respect to his daughter. The substance
of Morrison's allegations generally assert that
Defendants used false, fabricated, coerced, and erroneous
information against him in each of the two referenced
proceedings. More specifically, for example, he complains
that a psycho-sexual evaluation of him contained false
reports and false information which caused the two legal
proceedings to become biased and prejudicial. He asserts the
inaccurate psycho-sexual report caused him to be sentenced to
prison in his criminal matter, and resulted in a decision to
remove his daughter from his custody.
balance of Morrison's specific allegations detail
numerous actions taken by each of the individual Defendants.
He describes numerous incidents of conduct of each Defendant
which he characterizes as threatening, intimidating,
harassing, coercive, improper, unconstitutional, malicious,
or manipulative. He alleges the conduct was committed by each
Defendant for the purpose of securing both a criminal
conviction against Defendant and the termination of his
requests compensatory relief in this action. He requests he
be awarded $12 million as compensatory damages, $13 million
as punitive damages, compensation for future mental health
treatment and counseling, and costs and attorneys' fees
incurred in prosecuting this action. He also requests that
all false information about him and created by
Defendants' conduct be purged from all proceedings and
investigative files pertaining to him.
the Defendants named in Morrison's pleading are
individuals employed by the State of Montana who committed
their alleged conduct while acting under color of state law.
Therefore, Morrison's claims are potentially cognizable
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which invokes the Court's
federal question jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331. And the Court would possess supplemental
jurisdiction over related claims advanced under Montana law
against any private Defendants as provided by 28 U.S.C.
Court previously granted Morrison leave to prosecute this
action in forma pauperis as permitted under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a). Therefore, the Court must screen his allegations in
his pleading to determine whether they are subject to
dismissal under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
because Morrison is proceeding pro se the Court must construe
his pleading liberally, and the pleading is held “to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers[.]” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972). See also Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). Although the Court has
authority to dismiss a defective pleading pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2),
a district court should grant leave to amend even if no
request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines
that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the
allegation of other facts.
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th
Cir. 2000) (quoting Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d
494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995)).
Morrison's Criminal Proceedings
substance of Morrison's allegations implicitly and
necessarily challenge the validity of the criminal
prosecution against him, and his resulting criminal
conviction and sentence. But for the reasons discussed, those
challenges are barred under the authority of Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
Heck the United States Supreme Court established
that a plaintiff cannot prosecute a section 1983 action for
damages if the success of those claims would necessarily
imply that ...