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Woods v. Lawrence County State's Attorney Office

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

October 3, 2018

WAYNE G. WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY OFFICE, LAWRENCE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, and LAWRENCE COUNTY CLERK OF COURT, Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          John Johnston, United States Magistrate Judge

         On November 17, 2017, Plaintiff Wayne Woods, a prisoner proceeding without counsel, filed a Complaint (Doc. 1) but did not pay the $400.00 filing fee as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) or file a motion to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. On June 19, 2018, the Court ordered Mr. Woods to either pay the filing fee or submit a motion to proceed in forma pauperis within 30 days. (Doc. 3.) Mr. Woods failed to timely respond and the case was closed on August 2, 2018. (Doc. 4.) On August 8, 2018, Mr. Woods filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 5.) Accordingly, the Court will reopen this case. The motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted but the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and should be dismissed.

         I. MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         Mr. Woods's Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis is sufficient to make the showing required by 28 U.S.C. §1915(a) (Doc. 5) and the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted. Because he is incarcerated, Mr. Woods must pay the $350.00 statutory filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The initial partial filing fee is waived and Mr. Woods may proceed with the case. See Bruce v. Samuels, 136 S.Ct. 627, 629 (2016)(“the initial partial filing fee may not be exacted if the prisoner has no means to pay it, § 1915(b)(4)”). Mr. Woods will be required to pay the fee in installments and make monthly payments of 20% of the preceding month's income credited to his prison trust account. The percentage is set by statute and cannot be altered. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). Mr. Woods must make these monthly filing-fee payments simultaneously with the payments required in any other cases he has filed. Id. By separate order, the Court will direct the facility where Mr. Woods is held to forward payments from Mr. Woods's account to the Clerk of Court each time the account balance exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Parties

         Mr. Woods is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel. He is currently incarcerated at Montana State Prison. He names the Lawrence County State's Attorney Office, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and the Lawrence County Clerk of Court as Defendants. (Complaint, Doc. 1 at 1, 4-5.)

         B. Allegations

         Mr. Woods files this action under the Freedom of Information Act to compel Defendants to provide him with evidence and other documents from his 1983 criminal case in Lawrence County, South Dakota.

         III. INITIAL SCREENING

         A. Standard

         Mr. Woods is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis so the Court must review his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. Sections 1915A(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.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A case is malicious if it was filed with the intention or desire to harm another.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). 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). That is, a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). A complaint's allegations must cross “the line from conceivable to plausible.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680.

         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 ...


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