United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING
GUIROLA, JR. CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court, sua sponte, for consideration of
dismissal. Plaintiff Henry Lee Craig, an inmate of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections, brings this pro se
Complaint seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Craig is proceeding in forma pauperis. See
named Defendants are: Michael Taylor, a witness during
Craig's criminal proceedings; Anthony Lawrence, III,
District Attorney for Jackson County Mississippi; Angel
Meyers, Assistant District Attorney for Jackson County; Bobby
Knochel, Assistant District Attorney for Jackson County; and
Kathy King Jackson, Circuit Court Judge for Jackson County.
The Court, having liberally construed the pleadings in
consideration with the applicable law, finds that this case
should be dismissed.
2011, Craig was convicted of murder in the Jackson County
Circuit Court and sentenced to life imprisonment. Craig
v. State, 110 So.3d 807, 808 (Miss. Ct. App. 2012).
Michael Taylor testified on behalf of the prosecution at
Craig's criminal trial. Attorneys Lawrence, Meyers, and
Knochel prosecuted the case against Craig and Judge King
presided over Craig's trial. Clerk's Docket at 1,
Craig v. State, No. 2011-KA-01283 (Miss. Ct. App.
now complains that, in doing so, Defendants violated his
constitutional and civil rights. Specifically, Craig claims
that Taylor was incompetent to testify and the prosecutors
conspired to “conceal this ambush witness competency
status from the trial court.” Mot.  at 6 (CM/ECF
brings this Complaint on forms available for prisoners suing
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and also cites § 1986.
Compl.  at 10 (CM/ECF pagination). Craig seeks
“compensatory relief, punitive relief, [and] injunctive
relief.” Id. at 9 (CM/ECF pagination).
Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (as
amended), applies to prisoner proceedings in forma
pauperis, and provides that “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.” Since Craig is proceeding
in forma pauperis, his Complaint is subject to the
case screening procedures set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915
(e)(2). Having completed that screening, it is apparent that
Craig's claims are barred by absolute immunity, by the
applicable statute of limitations, and by Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
Defendants are entitled to absolute immunity.
immunity is immunity from suit rather than simply a defense
against liability, and is a threshold question ‘to be
resolved as early in the proceedings as possible.'”
Hulsey v. Owens, 63 F.3d 654, 356 (5th Cir. 1995)
(quoting Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 284 (5th Cir.
1994)). Witnesses in grand jury proceedings and criminal
trials are entitled to absolute immunity against § 1983
suits. Rehberg v. Paulk, 132 S.Ct. 1497, 1506
(2012). Insofar as Craig claims his rights were violated by
Taylor's testimony during his criminal proceedings,
Craig's claims are barred by absolute immunity.
Id. at 1506-07; see also Mowbray v. Cameron
Cnty., Tex., 274 F.3d 269, 277-78 (5th Cir. 2001)
(finding absolute witness immunity bars § 1983 suits for
conspiracy to commit perjury).
Jackson, as Circuit Court Judge for Jackson County, enjoys
absolute immunity from damages when performing acts within
her judicial capacity. See Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d
279, 284 (5th Cir. 1994). Claims of bad faith, malice, and
corruption do not overcome absolute judicial immunity.
See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991)(citations
omitted). Nor will a judge be deprived of immunity because
the action she took was in error or in excess of her
authority. See Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356
immunity can be overcome only by showing that the actions
complained of were non-judicial in nature, or by showing that
the actions were taken in the “clear absence of all
jurisdiction.” Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11;
Stump, 435 U.S. at 356-57. In determining whether a
judge acted within the scope of her judicial capacity, the
court considers four factors: “(1) whether the precise
act complained of is a normal judicial function; (2) whether
the acts occurred in the courtroom or appropriate adjunct
spaces such as the judge's chambers; (3) whether the
controversy centered around a case pending before the court;
and (4) whether the acts arose directly out of a visit to the
judge in his official capacity.” Ballard v.
Wall, 413 F.3d 510, 515 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing
Malina v. Gonzales, 994 F.2d 1121, 1124 (5th Cir.
the four Ballard factors to Craig's allegations,
it is clear that the actions of Judge Jackson were
“judicial in nature.” Id. at 517.
Likewise, there are no claims that Judge Jackson lacked
jurisdiction to preside over criminal proceedings in the
Circuit Court for Jackson County. See Miss. Code
Ann. § 9-7-81 (circuit court has original jurisdiction
over state felony ...