United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION & DISMISSAL ORDER
BENSON, United States District Judge
William Milton Laxton, a former inmate of Tooele County Jail,
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 screening. See
Id. § 1915(e).
Standard of Review
Court shall dismiss any claims in a complaint filed in
forma pauperis if they are frivolous, malicious, 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.
Complaint alleges what appears to be an
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim against Frank
Beraurdi, his defense counsel in his state criminal case.
Improper Defendant -- State-Actor Requirement
establish a cause of action under § 1983, Plaintiff must
allege (1) the deprivation of a federal right by (2) a person
acting under color of state law (without immunity). Gomez
v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); Watson v. City
of Kansas City, 857 F.2d 690, 694 (10th Cir. 1988).
Complaint names based on his role as Plaintiff's
privately hired defense counsel. Defendant was thus not a
state actor, as he must be for Plaintiff to assert a federal
civil-rights claim against him. Thus, Plaintiff's claims
against may not proceed here.
Supreme Court explained in Heck “that a §
1983 action that would impugn the validity of a
plaintiff's underlying conviction cannot be maintained
unless the conviction has been reversed on direct appeal or
impaired by collateral proceedings." Nichols v.
Baer, No. 08-4158, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 4302, at *4
(10th Cir. Mar. 5, 2009) (unpublished) (citing Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994)). Heck
keeps litigants "from using a § 1983 action, with
its more lenient pleading rules, to challenge their
conviction or sentence without complying with the more
stringent exhaustion requirements for habeas actions."
Butler v. Compton, 482 F.3d 1277, 1279 (10th Cir.
2007) (citation omitted). Heck clarifies that
"civil tort actions are not appropriate vehicles for
challenging the validity of outstanding criminal
judgments." 512 U.S. at 48.
argues that Defendants violated his constitutional rights
regarding state criminal proceedings. These arguments attack
Plaintiff's underlying conviction and sentence.
Heck requires that, when a plaintiff requests
damages in a § 1983 suit, this Court must decide whether
judgment in the plaintiff's favor would unavoidably imply
that the conviction or sentence is invalid. Id. at
487. Here, it would. If this Court were to conclude that
Plaintiff's constitutional right to effective ...