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Roth v. State

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 24, 2019

AARON AR ROTH, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, and ADA COUNTY SHERIFF, Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE

          DAVID C. NYE CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Aaron AR Roth (Plaintiff) filed a pro se prisoner Complaint that is subject to screening because of his status as a prisoner and request for in forma pauperis status. Dkt. 3. The Court now reviews the Complaint to determine whether it should be summarily dismissed in whole or in part under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order requiring amendment.

         REVIEW OF COMPLAINT

         1. Screening Requirement

         The Court must review complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, as well as complaints filed in forma pauperis, to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b).

         2. Pleading Standard

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 8 if the factual assertions in the complaint, taken as true, are insufficient for the reviewing court plausibly “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. In other words, although Rule 8 “does not require detailed factual allegations, ... it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant’s liability, ” or if there is an “obvious alternative explanation” that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 678, 682 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         3. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), residing at the South Idaho Correctional Institution, serving a sentence on an unrelated criminal conviction. He alleges that he was wrongfully convicted of escape in the Idaho state district court. On December 21, 2011, the state district judge presiding over Plaintiff’s criminal case granted him a thirteen-hour furlough to conduct business with Boise State University. The furlough order was supposed to be served upon Plaintiff by the Ada County Sheriff’s office, but it was never served (it is unclear why). Plaintiff was, in fact, furloughed, but he did not return to jail as required.

         Later, he was surprised to be charged with escape, which was in part based upon the furlough order that provided a warning of that potential charge. Plaintiff contested his escape conviction based on the fact that he was never served with the furlough order explaining that failure to return to the jail could result in a criminal charge. Plaintiff’s early motion to dismiss was rejected because, “[a]lthough the statute codifying the crime of escape (I.C. § 18-2505) does not specifically identify a failure to return from furlough as constituting an escape, the[se] … two statutes do [I.C. § 20-101C and I.C. § 20-242(6).” Dkt. 3-3, p. 5. On Petitioner’s fourth attempt to overturn his conviction and sentence, the state district court agreed with him and dismissed the charges and vacated the conviction on Idaho Criminal Rule 48(a)(2) grounds-that the lack of due process supported a dismissal based, not on the statutes specifically addressing escape, but on the general rule that permitted dismissal where it would “serve the ends of justice and the effective administration of the court’s business.” The criminal case was dismissed on August 14, 2018. See Dkt. 3-1.

         4. Discussion

         A. Defendant State of Idaho

         The Eleventh Amendment prohibits a federal court from entertaining a suit brought by a citizen against a state, absent a waiver of sovereign immunity. Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 16-18 (1890). The Supreme Court has consistently applied the Eleventh Amendment’s jurisdictional bar to states and state entities “regardless of the nature of the relief sought.” See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). Moreover, only a “person” may be sued pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a state is not considered a “person” under that statute. Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Therefore, Plaintiff cannot proceed against the state of Idaho. Amendment would be futile; thus, this claim is subject to dismissal and shall not be included in an amended complaint.

         5. Fourth ...


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