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Ralph Mills v. Salem Municipal Court Clerks

August 5, 2011

RALPH MILLS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SALEM MUNICIPAL COURT CLERKS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Doc. No. 1)

OPINION

This matter arises out of the alleged false arrest of pro se Plaintiff Ralph Mills by the Bridgeton Police Department. Plaintiff submitted a Complaint alleging a deprivation of Fourth Amendment rights under 28 U.S.C. § 1983. He also submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") and an application for the appointment of pro bono counsel. (Doc. No. 1). This matter is before the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which provides that if a litigant seeks to proceed IFP, the Court must review the merits of the complaint. Because the Court concludes that Plaintiff has limited financial resources, Plaintiff's application to proceed IFP is GRANTED. However, because the Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted, the Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), and Plaintiff's application for the appointment of pro bono counsel is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that in May 2011, he was arrested by the Bridgeton police pursuant to a warrant issued "out of Salem and Lower Alloways Creek."*fn1 (Doc. No. 1). While in custody, Plaintiff told the arresting officer that the matter had been "taken care of" in 2009. (Id.). The arresting officer told Plaintiff that there was "nothing he could do," and took Plaintiff to the Salem County Jail. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that after a different officer at the Salem County Jail agreed to look into the matter, the officer handed him a piece of paper stating that "his case had already been heard" and a final decision had been reached. *fn2 (Id.).

Plaintiff filed a request with the Salem County Jail stating that his incarceration was a mistake. The jail's Social Rehabilitation Office responded that Plaintiff would be brought before a judge to explain his situation. (Doc. No. 1-2). Plaintiff claims he served a "total of 20 days, due to the courts [sic] [manipulating] [his] court dates." (Id.). Plaintiff was eventually released. However, he does not explain the circumstances of his release.

The remainder of Plaintiff's claims are unintelligible. Plaintiff alleges ". . . that [the clerks'] refusal to acknowledge what one of them had to enter back into the system, [sic] is a total violation, and they all should be prosecuted and a new clerks [sic] take their places." (Id.). Plaintiff also claims that the clerks "didn't do their job, and the reason for them not doing it was to cause [him] harm, which they did." (Id.). Plaintiff demands that "to keep it real, the salem [sic] municipal court is a criminal interprize [sic], and should be shut down." (Id.).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Third Circuit has established a two-step process for deciding applications to proceed IFP. See Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 n.1 (3d Cir. 1990). "First, the court must determine whether plaintiff is eligible for pauper status under § 1915(a). Second, the court must 'screen' the complaint under § 1915(e)(2) to ascertain whether it is frivolous, fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief." Levine v. Florida, No. 05-5102, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28148, at *1-2 (D.N.J. Nov. 16, 2005) (quoting Roman, 904 F.2d 194 n.1). A complaint is not deemed filed "unless and until" IFP status is granted; only then may a District Court determine if the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Oatess v. Sobolevitch, 914 F.2d 428, 429 n. 1 (3d Cir. 1990).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Eligibility to Proceed IFP

When reviewing an application to proceed IFP, "the court begins by reviewing the [applicant's] affidavit requesting [IFP] status." Levine, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28148, at *2-3 (citations omitted). If it appears to the court that an applicant "lacks sufficient resources, the court may grant [the] request." Id.

Plaintiff submitted a financial affidavit that details his income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Plaintiff's affidavit states that he is homeless, and the address listed on Plaintiff's affidavit belongs to a homeless shelter in Denver, Colorado. Plaintiff lists $236 in disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs as his only source of monthly income. Plaintiff also states that he spends $236 each month on food, clothing, and other expenses. Plaintiff's affidavit states that he has no assets, and that he does not own any property.

Based on the information provided in Plaintiff's financial affidavit, it appears to the Court that Plaintiff has few resources at his disposal, and therefore it is appropriate to ...


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