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JOSEPH v. LOPEZ

August 15, 2005.

PIERRE JOHNNY JOSEPH, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE JAMES LOPEZ, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DICKINSON DEBEVOISE, Senior District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff Pierre Johnny Joseph, currently detained at the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, New Jersey, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. He alleges violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Based on his affidavit of indigence and the absence of three qualifying dismissals within 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint.

  At this time, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

  BACKGROUND

  The following factual allegations are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this review.

  On or about June 22, 2002, Plaintiff was arrested while waiting for a ride on the street. According to the police report submitted with the complaint, Plaintiff pointed to another man when an undercover officer attempted to buy drugs from him.*fn1 He was searched incident to the arrest and officers confiscated $198.00 off his person.

  Plaintiff insisted to officers that he had nothing to do with the drug sale, and that it was all a big mistake, but the officers told him to "explain that to the judge and good luck in court." Plaintiff, along with the co-defendant, were charged with various drug crimes. Plaintiff was indicted by a grand jury; however, on April 11, 2003, all charges against him were dismissed on motion of the prosecutor. According to Plaintiff the dismissal was based upon the guilty plea and sentence of the co-defendant who admitted that Plaintiff had not conspired with him. It appears that Plaintiff was incarcerated at some point or the entire time between his arrest and the dismissal of charges.

  Liberally construing the instant complaint, Plaintiff contends that his due process rights were violated, he was falsely arrested, illegally searched, maliciously prosecuted, and falsely imprisoned. He states that due to the false charges and incarceration he suffered irreparable injury and loss of property, and pain and suffering.

  DISCUSSION

  A. Standard of Review

  This Court must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time, certain in forma pauperis and prisoner actions that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (prisoner actions brought with respect to prison conditions).

  In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The Court need not, however, credit a pro se plaintiff's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Id.

  A pro se complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears "`beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Haines, 404 U.S. at 521 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir. 1981).

  Where a complaint can be remedied by an amendment, a district court may not dismiss the complaint with prejudice, but must permit the amendment. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992); Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002) (dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir. 2000) (dismissal pursuant to ...


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