United States District Court, D. Maryland
KEITH A. HILL, #449267 Plaintiff,
GEORGE HARPER Defendant.
XINIS United States District Judge
April 6, 2017, the court received for filing this 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 Complaint for monetary damages. Keith A. Hill, a
state inmate housed at the Roxbury Correctional Institution
in Hagerstown, Maryland, filed suit against George Harper,
the defense attorney in his state court criminal case.
According to the statement of facts, Hill claims that Harper
never investigated his witnesses, tried to pressure his
family into convincing Hill to plead guilty, and failed to
communicate with Hill. Hill claims that he dismissed Harper
from his case because his “performance was below lawyer
standards.” ECF No. 1. Hill appears indigent, and so
his motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis shall be
granted. The § 1983 complaint shall be dismissed sua
sponte for failure to state a claim.
state court docket shows that in July of 2014, Hill was
charged with attempted first-degree burglary, attempted
robbery, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit an armed
robbery, and conspiracy to commit a robbery in the District
Court for Prince George's County. The charges were based
upon a complaint filed by Officer Jones, #3443. The case was
transferred to the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County. See State v. Hill, Criminal No. 0E005477701
(District Court for Prince George's County). Hill was
found guilty after a jury trial that took place on May 11,
2016, of attempted second-degree burglary and firearm
possession with a felony conviction. He was acquitted of
attempted armed robbery, attempted robbery, conspiracy to
commit armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit robbery, drug
conspiracy, and the handgun counts were nolle prossed. On or
about July 15, 2016, Hill was sentenced to a cumulative
15-year term in custody of the Division of Correction.
See State v. Hill, Criminal No. CT141066A (Circuit
Court for Prince George's County).
asserting claims under § 1983 “must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988);
Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem'l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176,
180 (4th Cir. 2009). It is well-settled that an attorney does
not act under color of state law when performing traditional
functions as counsel, whether attorney is a court-appointed
public defender or privately-retained. See Polk County v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981). See also,
Deas v. Potts, 547 F.2d 800, 800 (4th Cir. 1976).
Therefore, regardless of whether Hill can prove that Harper
rendered ineffective assistance during trial, Hill can state
no claim under § 1983 because he is not suing a state
actor. See Curry v. South Carolina, 518 F.Supp.2d
661, 667 (D. S.C. 2007).
Hill's prisoner civil rights case fails to state a claim,
his case shall be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e). Hill is hereby notified that he may be
barred from filing future suits in forma pauperis if he
continues to file federal civil rights actions that are
subject to dismissal under § 1915(e) or Rule
12(b)(6). This constitutes the first complaint
dismissed pursuant to § 1915(e) to be assessed against
Hill. A separate order follows.
 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)
Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion
thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the
case at any time if the court determines that:
(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or
(B) the action or appeal--(i) is frivolous or
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such ...