United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MADELINE COX ARLEO, JUDGE
matter has been opened to the Court by Plaintiffs filing of a
civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This Court
previously granted Plaintiffs application to proceed in
forma pauperis. Federal law requires this Court to
screen Plaintiffs Complaint for sua sponte dismissal
prior to service, and to dismiss any claim if that claim
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and/or to dismiss any defendant who is
immune from suit. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). For the reasons explained below, the Court
will dismiss with prejudice the § 1983 claims
raised in the Complaint. The Court will also deny Plaintiffs
request to convert this matter to a habeas case. Because it
is not clear whether Plaintiff has any additional § 1983
claims against the Defendants identified in his Complaint or
against individuals referenced in his numerous filings, the
Court will permit Plaintiff to submit an amended complaint
within 30 days of the date of the Order accompanying this
Court recounts only the facts necessary to this Opinion.
Plaintiff has sued Laura Magnone, who is identified in the
Complaint as an Assistant Prosecutor with Morris County
Prosecutor's Office, and Robert Scrivo, Esq., who is
identified in the Complaint as an "Attorney at Law"
with the law firm of McElroy, Deusch, Mulvaney &
Carpenter, LLP, for alleged violations of his civil rights
under 28 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1, Compl. at page 4.)
Plaintiff appears to be a convicted prisoner and alleges that
prior to his acceptance of a plea deal for unspecified state
court charges, Scrivo asked Magnone if Plaintiff could apply
for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program
("PTI"). (Id. at 5.) Magnone allegedly
replied: "Absolutely not, he can not (sic) apply."
(Id.) She also allegedly stated to Plaintiff that
she would make sure that he did not get PTI. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that Magnone's conduct violated his
rights by discriminating against him and showing bias. He
further alleges that Scrivo violated his rights by providing
ineffective assistance of counsel for not objecting to the
denial of PTI and by advising Plaintiff to take a plea deal.
(Id.) Plaintiff seeks damages in the amount of $1,
750, 000.00. (Id. at 6.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26,
1996) ("PLRA"), district courts must review
complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is
proceeding in forma pauper is, see 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee
or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings
a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42
U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs district courts to
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. "The legal standard for
dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for
dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6)." Schreane v. Seana, 506
F.App'x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v.
Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000));
Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F.App'x 230, 232 (3d Cir.
2012) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau
v. United States, 287 F.App'x 159, 162 (3d Cir.
2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
Plaintiffs Complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). When
reviewing a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6),
courts first separate the factual and legal elements of the
claims, and accept all of the well-pleaded facts as true.
See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11
(3d Cir. 2009). All reasonable inferences must be made in the
plaintiffs favor. See In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust
Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010). The complaint
must also allege "sufficient factual matter" to
show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted). "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." Fair Wind Sailing, Inc.
v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
are required to liberally construe pleadings drafted by
pro se parties. Tucker v. Hewlett Packard, Inc.,
No. 14-4699 (RBK/KMW), 2015 WL 6560645, at *2 (D.N.J.
Oct. 29, 2015) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972)). Such pleadings are "held to less
strict standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Id. Nevertheless, pro se
litigants must still allege facts, which if taken as true,
will suggest the required elements of any claim that is
asserted. Id. (citing Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013)). To do
so, [a plaintiff] must plead enough facts, accepted as true,
to plausibly suggest entitlement to relief." Gibney
v. Fitzgibbon, 547 F.App'x 111, 113 (3d Cir. 2013)
(citing Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir.
2012)). Furthermore, "[l]iberal construction does not,
however, require the Court to credit a pro se plaintiffs
'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions.'
Id. (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch.
DisL, 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). That is,
"[e]ven a pro se complaint may be dismissed for
failure to state a claim if the allegations set forth by the
plaintiff cannot be construed as supplying facts to support a
claim entitling the plaintiff to relief. Id. (citing
Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir.
explained below, the Court construes Plaintiff to allege
claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants
Magnone and Scrivo. The Court considers the § 1983 claims
against each Defendant as alleged in the Complaint and
separately addresses Plaintiffs additional filings.
Claims against Defendant Magnone
alleges that that Defendant Magnone discriminated against him
by refusing to allow him to apply to PTI and by stating that
she would deny his PT1 application. The Court construes
Plaintiff to allege § 1983 claims of malicious and/or
selective prosecution against Defendant Magnone. Under
federal law, however, prosecutors have absolute immunity from
civil liability, i.e., damages, for their conduct in their
role as prosecutors. See Newsome v. City of Newark,
No. 13-CV-06234 CCC, 2014 WL 4798783, at *2 (D.N.J. Sept. 25,
2014) (citing Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409,
427-28 (1976)). It is well established that prosecutors sued
under § 1983 enjoy absolute immunity for their conduct
in "initiating a prosecution and in presenting the
State's case." Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431.
This immunity extends to any acts the prosecutor undertakes
"as the state's 'advocate, '"
Yarris v. County of Delaware, 465 F.3d 129, 136 (3d
Cir. 2006), and is not defeated by allegations that the
prosecutor acted in bad faith, see Ernst v. Child &
Youth Servs., 108 F.3d 486, 502 (3d Cir. 1997), or
"committed] perjury or falsifie[d] evidence, "
Davis v. Grusemeyer, 996 F.2d 617, 630 n. 27 (3d
Cir. 1993), overruled on other grounds by Rolo v. City
Investing Co. Liquidating Trust, 155 F.3d 644 (3d
Cir.1998); see also Tindell v. Pennsylvania, 398
F.App'x 696, 698 (3d Cir. 2010) (explaining same).
Davis, 996 F.2d at 631, an indictee sued both the
prosecutors and detective for their efforts to deny him
access to PTI, and their decision to instead continue with
criminal prosecution. Id. at 627-29. The Third
Circuit found that the decision to continue a criminal
prosecution through trial "is at the heart of the
prosecutorial decision-making process ..." and should
therefore be immune from civil liability. Id. at
629. Further, the Court held that a detective performing
investigative work in connection with a criminal prosecution
receives the same absolute immunity as would the prosecutor.
Id. at 631-32. Thus, under well-established Third
Circuit precedent, Defendant Magnone is entitled to
prosecutorial immunity for her decision to deny Plaintiff PTI
and continue with his prosecution, which ultimately resulted
in a plea deal. As ...