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Archer v. Fox

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

May 2, 2018

MAURICE RONALD ARCHER, Petitioner,
v.
TIMOTHY FOX, ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE OF MONTANA; HON. MIKE MCGRATH, CHIEF JUSTICE, the SUPREME COURT STATE OF MONTANA, et. al., Respondents.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Maurice Ronald Archer, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, see (Doc. 12), filed a Complaint alleging irregularities in his state criminal proceedings. (Doc. 6). The Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and should be dismissed.

         I. Initial Screening

         Because Archer is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis the Court must review his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. Sections l9l5A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or by a prisoner against a governmental defendant before it is served if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         A complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzkev. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint is malicious if not pleaded in good faith. Kinney v. Plymouth Rock Squab. Co., 236 U.S. 43, 46 (1915). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if a plaintiff fails to allege the "grounds" of his "entitlement to relief." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation omitted).

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a complaint "that states a claim for relief must contain ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In order to satisfy the requirements in Rule 8 a complaint's allegations must cross "the line from conceivable to plausible." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 680 (2009). There is a two-step procedure to determine whether a complaint's allegations cross that line. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556; Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. First, the Court must identify "the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 680. Factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth if they are "merely consistent with liability," or "amount to nothing more than a 'formulaic recitation of the elements' of a constitutional" claim. Id. at 679, 681. A complaint stops short of the line between probability and the possibility of relief where the facts pled are merely consistent with a defendant's liability. Id. at 678.

         Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a "plausible" claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A claim is "plausible" if the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, "allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678. This inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679 (citation omitted). If the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, "do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not "show[n]"-"that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         "A document filed pro se is 'to be liberally construed,' and 'apro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Erickson v. Pardu, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); cf. Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(e) ("Pleadings must be construed so as to do justice").

         II. Analysis

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Archer, along with John Chambers, Charles Clary, Keith Doyle, and Brian Smith, joined in filing the complaint lodged in this matter and sought certification to proceed as a class. (Docs. 6, 7, 8). The Court denied the Plaintiffs* motion for class certification and ordered that the claims be severed. See generally, (Doc. 15). Accordingly, separate cases were opened for each of the named plaintiffs.[1]

         In September of 2007, Archer was convicted of Sexual Assault and Incest in Montana's Eighteenth Judicial District, Gallatin County, in Cause No. DC 06-46C. (Doc. 6 at 2).[2] Archer previously challenged his 2007 convictions in this Court via federal habeas corpus petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Archer's first federal petition was dismissed with prejudice as procedurally defaulted in its entirety. See Archer v. Mahoney, No. CV 09-73-BU-SHE-RKS (D. Mont. Judgment entered Mar. 2, 2010). Archer's second habeas petition was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as an unauthorized second or successive petition. See Archer v. Berkebile, No. CV 15-51-GF-BMM (D. Mont. Judgment entered September 1, 2015).

         In the instant matter Archer complains his state charges were brought "under indictment by information" and that he was deprived of either a "constitutionally mandated preliminary examination before a magistrate" or a "non-perfunctory adversarial hearing before the district judge prior to being indicted by information on judicial order to file the information as the instrument of indictment." (Doc. 6 at 2). Archer contends that other similarly situated individuals, too numerous to number, have had their due process rights violated by the purported faulty charging manner utilized by the State of Montana and are also entitled to justice. Id. at 4.

         Archer asserts Attorney General Timothy Fox, as the chief law enforcement officer in the state, has been made aware of the due process violations that have occurred as a result of the unconstitutional charging practice, by virtue of numerous appeals, post conviction matters, and state habeas petitions that have been filed. Id. at 4-5. Archer complains ...


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