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Leon v. NJ State Dep't of Corrections

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


September 17, 2008

RAMON LEON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NJ STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pisano, District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff, Ramon Leon, proceeding pro se, brings this action against the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("DOC") and the New Jersey Attorney General ("Attorney General") alleging "Constitutional violations" of "False Imprisonment, Double Jeopardy and Discrimination for Economic Status." Complaint ("Compl.") at 2. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and for pro bono counsel.*fn1 Based on Plaintiff's application and affidavit of indigence, the Court finds that Plaintiff is unable to pay the filing fee for this action. As such, Plaintiff's application shall be granted.

Pursuant to statute, a court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint if the complaint is "frivolous or malicious"or "fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Congress has also authorized the dismissal of complaints which seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. Being mindful that the court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, the Court nonetheless finds for the reasons below that Plaintiff's complaint seeks monetary damages from immune defendants and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Consequently, the Court directs that the complaint be dismissed.

Based on the Complaint and the documents attached, it appears that Plaintiff was convicted by a jury in New Jersey Superior Court of one count of burglary and sentenced in March 2003 to five years in state prison. In July 2003, Plaintiff pled guilty to another burglary count and was sentenced again to five years in state prison. The sentences were to run concurrently. According to Plaintiff, "as a result of [a] new way to calculate concurrent terms of imprisonment," Plaintiff "ended up serving his term of imprisonment plus 303 days." Compl. at 2. Plaintiff, now released from custody, seeks damages in the amount of $3,030,000 and an order requiring "defendants to recalculate the term of imprisonment of similarly situated prisoners throughout the State of New Jersey." Id.

Although not specifically cited by Plaintiff, the Court construes his claims as being brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn2 Thus, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks money damages, Plaintiff's claims against the DOC and the Attorney General*fn3 are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71, 109 S.Ct. 2304, 105 L.Ed.2d 45 (1989); Bolden v. Se. Pa. Trans. Auth., 953 F.2d 807, 813-14 (3d Cir.1991). Moreover, with respect to Plaintiff's "discrimination" claim, the complaint is devoid of any factual allegations that, if true, would establish such a claim.

To the extent that Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, his claims fail because he seeks such relief exclusively on behalf of third persons who are not parties to this lawsuit. As such, his claims are barred by the prudential limitation on third-party standing. "[T]his Court has held that the plaintiff generally must assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). Consequently, Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed. Additionally, in light of the above, Plaintiff's application for pro bono counsel is denied.

Joel A. Pisano, U.S.D.J.


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