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Hiram R. Johnston, Jr v. N.J. State Parole Board

February 28, 2011

HIRAM R. JOHNSTON, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
N.J. STATE PAROLE BOARD
CHAIRPERSON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolfson, DistrictJudge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, confined at the Mercer County Correctional Center, Trenton, New Jersey, submitted this complaint alleging violations of constitutional rights, and seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, 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. For the following reasons, the complaint will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff seeks to sue the New Jersey State Parole Board Chairperson, Parole Officer Larkins, and Plaintiff's wife Waradah Johnston, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for an incident that occurred in June of 2010. Plaintiff states that on June 16, 2010, while he was under parole supervision, his wife became angry with him because he received a call from another woman, and, as a "woman scorned," threatened to send Plaintiff back to prison. In the next few days, she filed criminal charges against Plaintiff accusing him of terroristic threats, "after viewing 'the handwriting on the walls,' (accusing her of 'adultery')". (Complt., p. 4). Plaintiff's wife moved out of their residence and contacted his parole officer.

On June 19, 2010, Plaintiff was arrested and taken to Burlington County Jail, presumably on the charges filed by his wife. Bail was set, which Plaintiff was able to secure, and Plaintiff was released on June 22, 2010. On that day, Plaintiff contacted his assigned temporary parole officer and told her of the events. The next day, defendant parole officer Larkins called Plaintiff, and told him that she was his new officer. Defendant Larkins advised Plaintiff not to have contact with his wife, and to report to the Parole Office. (Complt., p. 5).

At the Parole Office, Plaintiff was charged with a technical violation of failing to notify of an address change. Plaintiff also states that he was charged with violating the restraining order for attempting to contact his wife through a third party. His parole was revoked pending a final revocation hearing. Larkins asked Plaintiff if he had used drugs or alcohol, and Plaintiff stated that he had smoked marijuana and had some alcohol within the past few days. Plaintiff was arrested and brought to Mercer County Correctional Center.

Plaintiff argues that his wife's charges were false, and that Larkin knew they were false "because she personally persuaded Plaintiff's wife that unless she filed them[,] plaintiff's parole would not be revoked." (Complt., pp. 6-7). He argues that he was falsely arrested and that his due process rights were violated by his wife and defendant Larkins. He also contends that the Parole Board Chairperson did not adequately train defendant Larkins. He asks for monetary and other relief.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a district court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. The Court is required to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A, because plaintiff is proceeding as an indigent and is a prisoner.

Recently, the Supreme Court refined the standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). The Court examined Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).*fn1 Citing its opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), for the proposition that "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), the Supreme Court identified two working principles underlying the failure to state a claim standard:

First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice ... . Rule 8 ... does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will ... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not "show[n]"-"that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).

Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-1950 (citations omitted). The Court further explained that: a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should ...


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