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Kervin Michel v. State of New Jersey

April 25, 2011

KERVIN MICHEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

ORDER & OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendants the Office of the Essex County Prosecutor and Paula Dow (the "State Defendants") and by the City of East Orange and the East Orange Police Department (the "East Orange Defendants").*fn1 The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

BACKGROUND*fn2

Plaintiff is a 29 year old, African-American male. He alleges that on August 29, 2006 at approximately 4:50 PM, he was walking in the area of Washington Terrace and Morton Place in East Orange, New Jersey when he was stopped by defendant Officers Howard and Green of the East Orange Police Department. Plaintiff claims that the officers questioned him about a stabbing in the area and placed him under arrest, though he denied knowing anything about he incident.

Plaintiff was taken to the East Orange Police Department, where he claims he was told he was being arrested for marijuana possession. Plaintiff pleads in the Amended Complaint that he was, in fact, not charged with marijuana possession that day. Plaintiff claims that after he had been in the police station about fifteen minutes, a handgun was discovered in the cell he was sharing with at least eight other individuals. He claims officers told him everyone in the cell they would be charged with handgun possession. Despite this, Plaintiff alleges that he was the only individual charged with possession of the handgun. Plaintiff further claims that Officers Howard and Green filed a false police report claiming they found the handgun on Plaintiff's person during the initial stop in connection with the stabbing incident.

Plaintiff's bail was set at $50,000, and he remained in jail pending a court date. On April 23, 2007, Plaintiff appeared in court to face the handgun possession charge, as well as charges of aggravated assault and possession of a weapon arising out of earlier incidents in Newark. Plaintiff was accused of shooting two men, Karream Caldwell and Marcus Thigpen Davis. Detective Chaparro was the lead investigator on both cases. Plaintiff claims that Caldwell did not identify him as the shooter until three months after the alleged incident and that Davis now claims he was pressured to implicate Plaintiff.

At the April 23, 2007 hearing, Plaintiff's bail was raised to $250,000. Plaintiff claims that over the course of the next year, he attended a series of court dates in which he was offered plea bargains and rejected them. On March 14, 2008, Plaintiff appeared in court and again rejected a plea offer, insisting on a trial. The planned trial date of March 31, 2008 was postponed. Plaintiff appeared in court on August 8, 2008 for a suppression hearing concerning the gun he was alleged to have possessed in East Orange. On August 13, 2008, the state court judge granted Plaintiff's motion to suppress on the grounds that Green did not have probable cause to stop and search Plaintiff. As a result, the East Orange handgun possession charge was dismissed.

On September 19, 2008, Plaintiff appeared before Superior Court Judge Michael J. Nelson for the first time, expecting to begin trial on the remaining charges. After Plaintiff rejected all plea offers, Judge Nelson adjourned the matter until December 1, 2008. On that date, plaintiff was taken to court, but no conference was held.

In March 2009, Plaintiff's attorney urged him to accept a plea, telling him that Judge Nelson had deemed Plaintiff incompetent to stand trial. Plaintiff refused the plea. On March 12, 2009, Plaintiff was admitted to Anne Klein Forensic Center, where he stayed until discharged on May 7, 2009. During that time, he had one extended interview with Dr. Mahmood Ghahramini and was diagnosed with both delusional and paranoid personality disorders. He was not medicated for this condition. According to Plaintiff's Discharge Summary, Superior Court Judge Harold. W. Fullilove ordered Plaintiff's commitment for a 30-day Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial. Plaintiff contends he has no history of mental illness.

After being discharged from Anne Klein, Plaintiff was returned to the Essex County Jail. In October 2009, Plaintiff's family hired a new attorney who discovered that the commitment order was submitted by the Essex County Prosecutor, then Paula Dow, and was signed by Judge Nelson. The commitment order required Dow to notify the Essex County Adjuster and to forward any discoverable materials to Plaintiff. He claims neither ever happened.

On October 27, 2009, Plaintiff was transferred to Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. He was released on December 14, 2009.

Plaintiff brings the following claims against the moving Defendants: (1) 4th, 5th and 14th Amendment violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State Defendants; (2) Malicious Prosecution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the East Orange Defendants; (3) municipal liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the state respondeat superior doctrine against the City of East Orange; (4) infliction of emotional distress under state law against all moving Defendants; and (5) conspiracy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985-1986 against all moving Defendants.

DISCUSSION

To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, 'to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

While courts must generally accept Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, they are also entitled to consider documents "integral to" the complaint. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997). Additionally, courts may review documents ...


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