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Johnson v. Passaic County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 19, 2015



KEVIN McNULTY, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jeremy Johnson, appearing pro se, brought this action following his arrest and prosecution for disorderly conduct. Johnson alleges constitutional and common law claims against Passaic County and certain of the state officials involved in his arrest, detention, and prosecution. He also sues Miguel Felipe, a private individual.

This Court previously dismissed the Complaint against Defendant Passaic County. (Dkt. No. 15) The Court also dismissed the Complaint against Defendants Marilyn C. Clark and Raymond A. Reddin - state court judges who made decisions regarding Johnson's eligibility for bail. (Id. )

Now before the Court is a motion to dismiss by Defendants Gina Pfund and Gyselle Da Silva (the "prosecutors") - assistant prosecutors in the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office. For the reasons set forth below, the claims against these prosecutors will be dismissed. Several of the grounds for dismissal of the claims against the state actors apply to Officer Navarro as well, and require the dismissal of all claims against him. Having disposed of all federal-law claims, I will also dismiss the state-law claims against Felipe for lack of jurisdiction.


The facts of this case were set forth in the Court's prior opinion (Dkt. No. 15, at 1-3) and need not be repeated in full here. With regard to the prosecutors' motion to dismiss, the relevant facts alleged in the Complaint can be briefly summarized. For purposes of this motion to dismiss only, the facts alleged in the Complaint are taken as true.

Johnson alleges that he was falsely arrested on September 15, 2010, for what he describes as a "disorderly persons offense." (Compl. Dkt. No. 1, at 8). I gather that it arose from an altercation with defendant Miguel Felipe, who then filed the police report that led to Johnson's arrest. (Id. at 9)

Johnson alleges that Defendant Pfund, the assistant prosecutor who initially prosecuted his case, intentionally disregarded the "confessions" of two witness who, he says, admitted to making false accusations against him. (Id. at 5) Pfund, despite her knowledge of these alleged exculpatory statements, obtained an indictment from the grand jury. Johnson maintains that the indictment, considered in light of the exculpatory witness statements, was not supported by probable cause.

Jonson next alleges that Defendant Da Silva, who took over the prosecution of his case after he was indicted, also interviewed "two primary witnesses" who stated that he "was innocent of the charges he face[d]." (Id. at 6) Johnson also alleges that Defendant Miguel Felipe, who made the initial police report that precipitated his arrest, confessed to Da Silva that "he had in fact provided false information to the police and to the Prosecutor, Gina Pfund." (Id. at 6-7) Johnson maintains that these confessions proved his innocence, but that Da Silva nonetheless "compel[led] [him] to [] accept a plea offer" so that she could "accomplish credentials with her superiors, " including Pfund. (Id. at 7, 8) Essentially, Johnson claims that Da Silva prosecuted him to further her career, and that as a result he suffered "economic injury" and "severe mental, physiological and emotional damages." (Id. at 7, 10)

Johnson filed the Complaint on July 15, 2013. Against Pfund, the Complaint asserts a claim for malicious prosecution. Against Da Silva, the Complaint asserts claims for violation of the Eighth Amendment and abuse of process. The Complaint does not state whether these claims are alleged against the defendants in their official or individual capacities.

On June 10, 2014, the prosecutors moved to dismiss the Complaint. (Dkt. No. 20-1) They argue that to the extent that Johnson alleges his claims against them in their official capacity, the Eleventh Amendment immunizes them from suit and deprives this Court of subject matter jurisdiction. To the extent he alleges the claims against them in their individual capacities, they are entitled to absolute immunity. Finally, they assert that Johnson's common law claims must fail because he did not comply with the notice requirement of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. N.J.S.A. ยง 59:1-1, et seq.

Johnson did not file any papers in opposition to the prosecutors' motion to dismiss.


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