United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION & DISMISSAL ORDER
BENSON United States District Judge
Tony Alexander Hamilton, filed this pro se
civil-rights suit, see 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983
(2017), proceeding in forma pauperis. See
28 id. § 1915. His Complaint is now before the
Court for evaluation under Defendant's amended motion to
Standard of Review
Court shall dismiss any claims in a complaint filed in
forma pauperis that are frivolous, malicious, or fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek
monetary relief against an immune defendant. See Id.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). "Dismissal of a pro se complaint
for failure to state a claim is proper only where it is
obvious that the plaintiff cannot prevail on the facts he has
alleged and it would be futile to give him an opportunity to
amend." Perkins v. Kan. Dep't of Corrs.,
165 F.3d 803, 806 (10th Cir. 1999). When reviewing the
sufficiency of a complaint the Court "presumes all of
plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff."
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir.
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se the Court must
construe his pleadings "liberally" and hold them
"to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers." Id. at 1110. However,
"[t]he broad reading of the plaintiff's complaint
does not relieve [him] of the burden of alleging sufficient
facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based."
Id. While Plaintiff need not describe every fact in
specific detail, "conclusory allegations without
supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a
claim on which relief can be based." Id.
asserts that prison contract attorney David Angerhofer
violated his federal civil rights by denying him meaningful
access to the courts when Angerhofer neglected to help
Plaintiff fill out a petition under 28 U.S.C.S. § 2241
(2017), resulting in the case's dismissal.
motion to dismiss, Defendant Angerhofer contends that he is
not culpable under federal civil-rights law because, as a
private attorney contracted by the Utah Department of
Corrections to provide initial legal services for state
prisoners, he is not a “state actor.” First, he
correctly argues that, though lawyers are generally licensed
by the states, “they are not officials of government by
virtue of being lawyers.” In re Griffiths, 413 U.S.
717, 729 (1973). Further, he cites precedent stating that
private contractors' acts do not become governmental acts
under § 1983 by reason of their significant or even
total involvement in executing the terms of public contracts.
Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 457 U.S. 830, 841 (1982). He goes on
to quote: “[The Fourteenth] Amendment erects no shield
against merely private conduct, however discriminatory or
wrongful.” Shelly v. Kramer, 334 U.S. 1, 14
Court is persuaded by Defendant's arguments, especially
in light of an earlier case decided in this Court: Smith
v. Freestone, Case No. 2:97-CV-944. In a Report and
Recommendation adopted in a dismissal order by the district
court judge, the following language appears, “Prison
contract attorneys do not work under color of state law for
purposes of § 1983.” See id., slip op. at
3 (D. Utah Aug. 20, 1998). The dismissal was affirmed by the
Tenth Circuit, which ruled that the defendants in that case,
also attorneys who contracted with the State to provide legal
help to inmates, were not acting under “color of state
law” in performing those duties. Smith v.
Freestone, No. 99-4005, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 16766, at
*2 (10th Cir. July 20, 1999); cf. Polk County v
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 321 (1981) (“[A] public
defender is not amenable to administrative direction in the
same sense as other employees of the State.”). A good
final point: Like a public defender, Defendant works under
canons of professional responsibility that govern his
exercise of independent judgment on behalf of clients.
“[T]he canons of professional ethics impose limits on
permissible advocacy.” Dodson, 454 U.S. at
323. In other words, every lawyer, whether privately retained
or publicly appointed, is charged to avoid clogging the
courts with frivolous claims. See id.
HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's amended Motion to Dismiss
is GRANTED. (See Docket Entry #s 15 & 16.)
Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice, under
28 U.S.C.S. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (2017), for failure to state
a claim on which relief may be granted. Neither liberal