United States District Court, D. New Jersey
William Quinonez, Plaintiff Pro Se.
B. SIMANDLE, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff William Quinonez seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County Prison System (“CCPS”), an entity he calls
County Federal Courts (“the Courts”), the City of
Camden (“City”), and the Camden County Jail
(“CCJ”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions
of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review complaints
prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding
in forma pauperis. Courts must sua sponte
dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is 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. This action is subject to sua sponte
screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)
because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.
the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (1) dismiss the
Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against CCJ; (2)
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made
against the Courts; and (3) dismiss the Complaint without
prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
Against CCJ: Dismissed With Prejudice
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
for alleged violations of Plaintiff's constitutional
rights. In order to set forth a prima facie case
under § 1983, a plaintiff must show: “(1) a person
deprived him of a federal right; and (2) the person who
deprived him of that right acted under color of state or
territorial law.” Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan,
47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980)).
Generally, for purposes of actions under § 1983,
“[t]he term ‘persons' includes local and
state officers acting under color of state law.”
Carver v. Foerster, 102 F.3d 96, 99 (3d Cir. 1996)
(citing Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21
(1991)). To say that a person was “acting
under color of state law” means that the defendant in a
§ 1983 action “exercised power [that the
defendant] possessed by virtue of state law and made possible
only because the wrongdoer [was] clothed with the authority
of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49
(1988) (citation omitted). Generally, then, “a public
employee acts under color of state law while acting in his
official capacity or while exercising his responsibilities
pursuant to state law.” Id. at 50.
Because the Complaint has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived Plaintiff of a federal right,
the Complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set
forth a prima facie case under § 1983. In the
Complaint, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCJ for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The
CCJ, however, is not a “person” within the
meaning of § 1983; therefore, the claims against it must
be dismissed with prejudice. See Crawford v.
McMillian, 660 F. App'x 113, 116 (3d Cir. 2016)
(“[T]he prison is not an entity subject to suit under
42 U.S.C. § 1983.”) (citing Fischer v.
Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3d Cir. 1973)); Grabow v.
Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F.Supp. 537, 538-39
(D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a
“person” under § 1983). Given that the
claims against the CCJ must be dismissed with prejudice, the
claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not name the CCJ as
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to name a person
or persons who were personally involved in the alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, however. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
Complaint within 30 days of the date of this order.
Against County Federal Courts: Dismissed With Prejudice
Claims brought against “County Federal Courts”
(Docket Entry 1 at 1) must be dismissed with prejudice, as
the judges of the Courts have absolute judicial immunity.
Although Mr. Quinonez uses the term “County Federal
Courts” once in the caption of his Complaint, it is
unclear whether he means to refer to the Superior Court of
New Jersey (Camden County) or the U.S. District Court for the
District of New Jersey (Federal Court) or both. Nothing in
the complaint alleges what any court has done to deprive him
of constitutional rights in the Camden County Jail. Moreover,
even if Plaintiff were to be more specific about what he is
attempting to allege, it is apparent such a claim is barred
by judicial immunity. “It is a well-settled principle
of law that judges are generally ‘immune from a suit
for money damages.'” Figueroa v. Blackburn
, 208 F.3d 435, 440 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting Mireles v.
Waco , 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991)). “A judge will not
be deprived of immunity because the action he took was in
error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his
authority.” Stump v. Sparkman , 435 U.S. 349,
356 (1978). Furthermore, “[a] judge is absolutely
immune from liability for his judicial acts even if his
exercise of authority is flawed by the commission of grave
procedural errors.” Id. at 359.
“[Judicial] immunity is overcome in only two sets of
circumstances.” Mireles , 502 U.S. at 11.
“First, a judge is not immune from liability for
non-judicial acts, i.e. , actions not taken in the
judge's judicial capacity.” Id. In
determining whether an act qualifies as a “judicial
act, ” courts look to “the nature of the act
itself, i.e. , whether it is a function normally
performed by a judge, and to the expectation of the parties,
i.e. , whether they dealt with the judge in his
judicial capacity.” Stump , 435 U.S. at 362.
“Second, a judge is not immune for actions, though
judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction.” Mireles , 502 U.S. at 12.
of these exceptions are inapplicable here. Plaintiff has not
set forth any facts that would suggest that judges of the
Courts engaged in nonjudicial acts, nor has Plaintiff alleged
facts demonstrating that any actions by the Courts were taken
in the clear absence of all jurisdiction. The judges of the
Courts are therefore entitled to complete judicial immunity.
Furthermore, absolute quasi-judicial immunity applies to
“public employees who perform judge-like functions,
” and the immunity “attaches when a public
official's role is functionally comparable to that of a
judge.” Ingram v. Township of Deptford, 858
F.Supp.2d 386, 390 (D.N.J. 2012) (citing Hamilton v.
Levy, 322 F.3d 776, 785 (3d Cir. 2003) and Antoine
v. Byers & Anderson, Inc., 508 U.S. 429, 436
(1993)). Thus, non-judge personnel of the Courts who
“perform the function of resolving disputes or of