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Moody v. Quarles

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

February 5, 2015

RODNEY J. MOODY, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK QUARLES AND MARTY WILLIAMS, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JOHN C. GARGIULO, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court for sua sponte consideration of dismissal. Having reviewed the facts and applicable law, the undersigned issues this report and recommendation that the complaint [1] filed by Plaintiff Rodney J. Moody be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

Rodney J. Moody was charged with two counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) on September 3, 2009.[1] Moody was held as a pretrial detainee pursuant to an order of detention entered on October 2, 2009. Id. at [32]. The pretrial service reports submitted at the detention hearing were prepared by Mark Quarles and Marty Williams (collectively "Defendants").[2]

Moody was ultimately acquitted and all charges were dismissed with prejudice on June 30, 2010. Id. at [58]. On December 2, 2013, Moody commenced this lawsuit against Defendants for monetary relief ($40, 000) and alleged that the judgment of acquittal rendered his pretrial detention in the criminal trial unconstitutional. [1]. Moody was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis on February 10, 2014. [5]. The pertinent portion of the controlling in forma pauperis statute states:

(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that-
* * *
(B) the action or appeal- (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

The claims asserted in this lawsuit seek monetary relief from two federal probation officers for improperly preparing pretrial service reports that were submitted during the judicial phase of a criminal trial. Federal probation officers are absolutely "immune" from such claims, and therefore the dismissal of this lawsuit is appropriate pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii):

We hold that a probation officer is entitled to the same protection when preparing and submitting a presentence report in a criminal case. The report is an integral part of the sentencing process, and in preparing the report the probation officer acts at the direction of the court.... We think it apparent that this narrow function is "intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process" and thus, where, as here, the challenged activities of a federal probation officer are within this function, he or she is absolutely immune from a civil suit for damages.... Defendants' activities were within this protected function, and the complaint seeking damages was properly dismissed.[3]

Likewise, the dismissal of this lawsuit as "frivolous" pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is also warranted under these circumstances:

Although not explicitly relied on by the district court, Thurman was likewise entitled to absolute immunity with regard to Overbey's claim that she prepared an inaccurate presentence report. Because both Douciere and Thurman were entitled to absolute immunity, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Overbey's § 1983 complaint as frivolous.[4]

RECOMMENDATION

Based on the above analysis, the undersigned recommends that the complaint [1] filed by Plaintiff Rodney J. Moody be dismissed with ...


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