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Librace v. Florida Department of Law Enforcement

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division

November 4, 2019

DAVID LIBRACE, Plaintiff,
v.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, et al, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ELIZABETH M. TIMOTHY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, commenced this action by filing a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). The matter is before the court on Plaintiffs amended complaint (ECF No. 7). The court is statutorily required to review Plaintiffs complaint to determine whether the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Upon review, it is apparent Plaintiff has failed to state a viable claim for relief against the Defendants. It likewise is clear Plaintiff cannot cure the deficiencies by filing an amended complaint. See Silva v. Bieluch, 351 F.3d 1045, 1048-49 (11th Cir. 2003) (Generally, "a district court must grant a plaintiff at least one opportunity to amend their claims before dismissing them if it appears a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim upon which relief can be granted even if the plaintiff never seeks leave to amend.”) (quotation omitted). The undersigned thus recommends the case be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names two Defendants in the action--Florida Department of Law Enforcement (“FDLE”) and the State Attorney's Office for Florida's First Judicial Circuit (ECF No. 7 at 1, 2). It appears the matter stems from Plaintiff's arrest on unspecified charges on October 26, 1998, and subsequent prosecution (ECF No. 7 at 5). Plaintiff alleges he appeared in court in Escambia County on October 26, 1999, and that adjudication of the charges was withheld pursuant to a plea agreement under which Plaintiff was sentenced to two years of probation (id.). Plaintiff says that on December 13, 1999, the State Attorney's Office filed an “amended plea and probation stipulation” without providing him notice or an opportunity to be heard (id.). Plaintiff's probation terminated on March 28, 2001, however, and the case was closed (id.).

         Plaintiff complains of alleged “docketing discrepancies”--specifically, that the original order terminating his probation was “removed from file and replaced with another” (id.). On March 30, 2001, Plaintiff maintains, the case was reopened (id.). Then, on January 25, 2002, according to Plaintiff (verbatim): “[T]he hearing records were filed in regards to the October 26, 1999. In this transcript no mention of Plaintiff being present for the hearing nor was Plaintiff read charges, agreed to plead, and or addressed by the court in any manner” (id.). More than a decade later, Plaintiff apparently received a letter from the FDLE, dated January 13, 2015, which Plaintiff contends “contains multiple errors. First the name in which they responded are [sic] totally incorrect. The filing date and charges are incorrect” (id. at 6). It appears Plaintiff requested that the records pertaining to his case be sealed and, “[o]n April 7, 2015, the FDLE filed a response to Plaintiff's request to seal records which was declined” (id.).

         Plaintiff alleges the State Attorney violated his civil rights “by amending the sentencing, altering the plea agreement, filing altered notices and orders, and having incorrect information in the criminal base creating false and incorrect alias, criminal charges, and plea agreements” (id. at 7). “The FDLE reviewed the docket entries court transcript and other correspondence without correcting the error” (id.). Plaintiff says he “provided all original documentation . . . at the time of trial and the FDLE failed to recognize, investigate and or review the discrepancies” (id.).

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks “damages for libel, slander, and denial of civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution” (id.). Plaintiff says he “was able to restore voting but unable to restore his full rights” (id.). Plaintiff further requests that the court seal the record and dismiss the charges against him due “to the actions of the State Attorney Office of the First Judicial Circuit” (id.). According to Plaintiff, “[t]hrough manipulation of the court system the State Attorney's Office was able to change a plee which would effect Plaintiff's future” (id. at 8) (errors in original).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive dismissal at the screening phase, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The plausibility standard is met only where the facts alleged enable “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The complaint's allegations must establish “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. Mere “labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do, ” and a plaintiff cannot rely on “naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted); see also Franklin v. Curry, 738 F.3d 1246, 1251 (11th Cir. 2013). In other words,

[p]leadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         The court reads a pro se plaintiff's pleadings in a liberal fashion and holds them to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Harris v. Goderick, 608 Fed.Appx. 760, 761 (11th Cir. 2015). Nevertheless, in civil rights cases, “[m]ore than mere conclusory notice pleading is required . . . . A complaint will be dismissed as insufficient where the allegations it contains are vague and conclusory.” Gonzalez v. Reno, 325 F.3d 1228, 1235 (11th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks and alteration omitted); see also Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (holding that “[p]rinciples requiring ...


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