No. 4:17-CV-00397-CVE-FHM (N.D. Okla.)
BRISCOE, HOLMES, and MATHESON, Circuit Judges.
ORDER AND JUDGMENT
M. Matheson, Jr. Circuit Judge
Lee Samuels appeals the district court's dismissal of his
amended complaint that alleged claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against three Tulsa County public defenders and two
prosecutors with the Tulsa County District Attorney's
Office. The court dismissed the amended complaint without
prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for
failure to state a claim. It granted Mr. Samuels leave to
proceed in forma pauperis ("ifp")
on appeal. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1291, we affirm.
Samuels brought his § 1983 action pro se while in
custody at the Tulsa County Jail and awaiting
trial. The amended complaint alleged four claims:
(1)denial of the right to a fair and impartial trial process;
(2)ineffective assistance of counsel when appointed counsel
failed to provide him with copies of discovery;
(3)ineffective assistance of counsel when appointed counsel
failed to file and argue proper motions and challenge the
voluntariness of his confession; and
(4)systematic abrogation of constitutional rights by the
Tulsa County District Attorneys "by way of the Tulsa
County District Court."
Mr. Samuels sought compensatory, punitive, and injunctive
district court dismissed because (1) the public defenders did
not act under color of state law, as § 1983 requires;
and (2) the prosecutors were entitled to absolute immunity.
The court pointed out that, if Mr. Samuels is convicted in
his state criminal action, he may be able to make his
constitutional arguments on direct appeal, in state
post-conviction proceedings, or through a federal habeas
Samuels raises three issues on appeal. "We review
de novo the district court's decision to dismiss an
ifp complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to state a claim." Kay
v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1217 (10th Cir. 2007).
he argues that his amended complaint alleged sufficient
factual detail. Aplt. Br. at 4-6. This argument fails because,
as we discuss below, he does not show that the facts he did
allege overcome the reasons that the district court dismissed
the amended complaint.
Mr. Samuels contests the district court's ruling that the
defendant public defenders were not state actors under §
1983. Aplt. Br. at 7-9. The court relied primarily on
Polk Cty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981), in which
the Supreme Court said 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." Id. at 325. Mr. Samuels cites to
the Eighth Circuit's decision in Dodson v. Polk
Cty., 628 F.2d 1104 (8th Cir. 1980), which held
"that an attorney in a county or state funded public
defender's office ...