Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

ALLAH v. WHITMAN

August 17, 2005.

JAMÁAL ALLAH, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, et al. Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY CHESLER, Magistrate Judge

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.] OPINION

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Ron Deligny, E. David Millard, and Jack Steinhauer (docket entry # 58). The Court, having considered the papers submitted by the parties, for the reasons set forth below, and for good cause shown, denies Defendants' Motion.

I. BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

  Plaintiff Allah was arrested in December 1999 after a police officer observed him selling drugs. His car was searched and he was subsequently charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance ("CDS"), possession of CDS with intent to distribute, and distribution of CDS. In September 2000, Lakewood police received a tip that Plaintiff was traveling by car with crack cocaine. While following his vehicle, the officers observed Plaintiff discard the cocaine from his window, of which 30 grams was later recovered. Plaintiff was then charged with possession of CDS, possession with intent to distribute CDS, possession with intent to distribute CDS in a school zone, and eluding. Plaintiff was charged again with possession of CDS and possession with intent to distribute CDS later that same month when police conducted surveillance following a confidential informant tip. At that time, Plaintiff was found with crack cocaine in his sock.

  In May 2001, Plaintiff entered into a negotiated plea agreement with the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office. The State agreed to dismiss the December 1999 indictment in its entirety, and two counts under the early September 2000 indictment. Plaintiff pled guilty to the remaining charges. He was sentenced on December 7, 2001, and consistent with his plea agreement he was sentenced to a ten-year custodial term with a five-year period of parole ineligibility.*fn1

  Four days after the sentencing, Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration. In support of his motion, Plaintiff pointed to indictments against two Lakewood police officers for their use of excessive force against a citizen in July 2001. The officers were charged with official misconduct, aggravated assault, false swearing, falsifying records, hindering apprehension and conspiracy. Further, Plaintiff alluded to being racially profiled by these officers. He complained that his trial counsel had failed to act on the indictments against these officers during his case. Finally, Plaintiff requested transfer to a drug rehabilitation program.

  Plaintiff's motion was denied without prejudice because it was procedurally barred. The request for transfer to a drug rehabilitation program was also denied. Plaintiff made another motion for reconsideration in January 2002. This request was also denied.

  Plaintiff appealed his conviction to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, contending that the State violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing to reveal the claims against some of his arresting officers. He asserted that this information would have been helpful in his defense. Plaintiff claimed this violation impaired the voluntariness of his plea, and alleged misconduct on the part of the prosecutor's office and its employees.

  While this appeal was pending in state court, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court against various defendants. Certain claims of that Complaint were dismissed by a Order from the Court on or about January 14, 2003, and the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint. (Docket at 3.) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint seeks damages and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his rights under the United States and New Jersey Constitutions. (Am. Compl. ¶ 1.)

  Plaintiff asks this Court to find that Defendants violated his "civil rights by racially/selectively profiling, assaulting/beating, bring false criminal charges against and official misconduct [sic]," and to "[d]eclare that defendants actions violate[d] plaintiffs [sic] rights under the Constitutions of New Jersey and the United States." (Id. at 9-10.) Plaintiff asserts he was beat "solely because he's African American Muslim." (Id. at 10.) He alleges that the Defendants "conspired in abridging and violating plaintiff's Civil Rights, State and Federal Constitutional Rights as to falsely forge documents and fabricate criminal charges to secure an illegal conviction and incarceration [sic]." (Id. at 4-6.) Plaintiff asks the Court to enjoin Defendants from "further violation of plaintiff's Civil rights" and requests an award of $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. (Id.) On or about December 2, 2003, this Court administratively terminated Plaintiff's case pending the outcome of the state court appeal. The matter was reopened at Plaintiff's request following the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division's decision to deny Plaintiff's appeal. Upon reopening the case, the Court dismissed claims against Defendants Christine Todd Whitman and John Farmer at Plaintiff's request. Subsequently, four of the remaining seven named Defendants, E. David Millard, Ronald F. Deligny, John Steinhauer, and Harold Van DeZilver filed a motion for summary judgment. On or about March 29, 2005, this Court granted in part and denied in part the that motion, dismissing three of Plaintiff's four claims. Plaintiff's claim of excessive force remained. The same Defendants now move for summary judgment as to this claim.

  II. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION — Heck and Rooker Feldman Doctrines

  Subject matter jurisdiction is a threshold issue concerning the very power of the Court to entertain this action. The Court has a continuing obligation to address the issue, even sua sponte, if there is cause to believe the Court lacks such jurisdiction. Desi's Pizza, Inc. v. City of Wilkes-Barre, 321 F.3d 411, 420 (3d Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). Defendants argue that Plaintiff's remaining claim is precluded by the Heck and Rooker-Feldman Doctrines, denying this Court of subject matter jurisdiction over the remaining claim.

  Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on or about May 16, 2004. In this pleading, Plaintiff alleges claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") for violations of his "Constitutional and Civil Rights." (Am. Compl. at 2.) In its March 29, 2005 Opinion and Order, this Court articulated what it viewed as Plaintiff's four alleged causes of action. The Court concluded that three of those claims were indeed precluded for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Prosecutor Defendants now argue that the Court should dismiss the remaining claim under the same rationale.

  The Rooker-Feldman Doctrine bars a state court losing party from seeking appellate review in the federal courts and circumscribes the appellate jurisdiction of the lower federal courts. The Doctrine is based on "the well settled understanding that the Supreme Court of the United States, and not the lower federal courts, has jurisdiction to review a state court decision." Parkview Assocs. Pshp. v. City of Lebanon, 225 F.3d 321, 324 (3d Cir. 2000). Rooker-Feldman bars a federal proceeding when "entertaining the federal court claim would be ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.