United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
REGINALD R. GRIFFIN, Plaintiff,
STATE OF FLORIDA, KATHLEEN SMITH, MIKE SCOTT, RICK SCOTT, STEPHEN B. RUSSELL and LINDA DOGGETT, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER 
SHERIPOLSTER CHAPPELL JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff Reginald
Griffin's Amended Complaint (Doc. 5) filed on
June 25, 2018. On June 6, 2018, the Court dismissed
Plaintiff's Complaint with leave to Amend. The Amended
Complaint names this Defendants: State of Florida, Kathleen
A. Smith, Public Defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit; Mike
Scott, Sheriff of Lee County; Rick Scott, Governor of the
State of Florida; Stephen B. Russell, State Attorney for the
Twentieth Judicial Circuit; and Linda Doggett, Clerk of Court
for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit. The Amended Complaint
generally alleges 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendment violations,
due process violations, and violations of Article I sec. 9 of
the United States Constitution. (Doc. 5 at § II).
The Plaintiff also moves to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc.
28 U.S.C. 1915(a), the Court is required to review the
Amended Complaint to determine whether it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or, otherwise seeks monetary relief from a defendant
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and
(2). Additionally, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(I)-(iii)
requires the Court to review all actions or appeals to
determine whether the action is “frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted;
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” A case is deemed frivolous where the
complaint lacks any arguable basis in law or fact.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989);
see also Mitchell v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco
Corp., 294 F.3d 1349 (11th Cir. 2002); Bilal v.
Driver, 251 F.3d 1346 (11th Cir. 2001). Frivolous claims
are those that describe “fantastic or delusional
scenarios.” Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349.
Amended Complaint is devoid of any claims for which relief
can be granted. Plaintiff argues the Public Defender violated
Article I sec. 9 of the United States Constitution by taking
the title esquire. According to Plaintiff no title of
nobility shall be granted by the United States and no person
holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall,
without the consent of Congress, accept of any present,
emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any
king, prince, or foreign state. U.S. Const. Art. 9 sec. 1.
Plaintiff states the Defendants submitted no oaths of office
from congress for the title esquire and therefore, their acts
are treason against the U.S. Courts. (Doc. 5 at 5).
Plaintiff also states the Public Defender waived his right to
speedy trial and denied him an arraignment.
extent Plaintiff is suing the Public Defender under §
1983, the Supreme Court has held that a public defender
“does not act under color of state law when performing
a lawyer's traditional functions as counsel to a
defendant in a criminal proceeding.” Polk County,
et al. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981) (footnote
omitted); Grinder v. Cook, 522 Fed.Appx. 544, 547
(11th Cir. 2007). This is because the public defender
“works under canons of professional responsibility that
mandate [her] exercise of independent judgment on behalf of
the client” and because there is an “assumption
that counsel will be free of state control.” Legal
Services Corp. v. Velazquez, 531 U.S. 533, 542 (2001)
(quoting Dodson, 454 U.S. 321-322). “[A]
public defender's obligations toward her client are no
different than the obligations of any other defense
attorney.” Dodson, 454 U.S. at 318. As such,
Kathleen Smith is not a state actor and cannot be sued under
§ 1983 for actions taken in connection with her
representation of the Plaintiff.
his Amended Complaint is not a model of clarity, Plaintiff
also appears to assert a conspiracy claim against all the
Defendants. To establish a prima facie case of a § 1983
conspiracy, a plaintiff must show “the defendants
reached an understanding to deny the plaintiff's
rights.” Hadley v. Gutierrez, 526 F.3d 1324,
1332 (11th Cir.2008) (citing Bendiburg v. Dempsey,
909 F.2d 463, 469 (11th Cir.1990)). And the plaintiff must
show “an underlying actual denial of [his]
constitutional rights.” Burge v. Ferguson, 619
F.Supp.2d 1225, 1237 (M.D. Fla. 2008) (quoting
Hadley, 526 F.3d at 1332). Finally, to allege a
conspiracy under § 1983, a plaintiff must make
“particularized allegations” that a conspiracy
exists. GJR Invs. v. County of Escambia, Fla., 132
F.3d 1359, 1370 (11th Cir. 1998) (modified by Swann v
Southern Health Partners, Inc., 388 F.3d 834, 837 (11th
Cir. 2004) holding that the heightened pleading requirement
does not apply to private entities under § 1983). Vague
and conclusory allegations suggesting a Section 1983
conspiracy are insufficient. Fullman v. Graddick,
739 F.2d 553, 556-57 (11th Cir.1984).
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint simply states the
Defendants reached an understanding to violate his
constitutional rights. The Complaint alleges no facts showing
that Defendants reached an understanding to deny his rights
and there are insufficient facts from which an inference of a
conspiracy can reasonably be drawn. Because Plaintiff's
conspiracy claims are conclusory with no particularized
allegations to support the claim, the claim is dismissed.
than Kathleen Smith, and the conspiracy allegation, the
Amended Complaint is devoid of any allegations on how the
other named Defendants violated Plaintiffs'
constitutional rights. Plaintiff was provided the opportunity
to amend, however, his Amended Complaint merely restates the
claims in his initial Complaint. The Amended Complaint lacks
any arguable basis in law or fact and fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Therefore, Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint is due to be dismissed with prejudice.
Since Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to state a
claim, Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis is denied.
it is now
Plaintiff Reginald Griffin's Amended Complaint is
DISMISSED with prejudice.
Plaintiff Reginald Griffin's Motion to Proceed In
Forma Pauperis (Doc. 6) is
Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment terminate
any pending motions, and close the file.