United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Brittingham, Plaintiff Pro se.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
Andre Brittingham, a prisoner presently incarcerated at the
Cumberland County Jail, in Bridgeton, New Jersey, seeks to
bring a civil rights complaint against Prosecutor Charles
Fiore and Judge Nicholas Lacavara for actions arising out of
his prosecution and conviction for driving with a suspended
license. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff fails to identify the legal
basis for his Complaint other than stating “racial
discrimination, ” “defamation, ” and
“maliciousness.” Id. at 4, 6. Because
Plaintiff is a state prisoner bringing a claim against state
officials, the Court will construe the Complaint as arising
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
time, the Court must review the Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A to determine whether
it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because
it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state
a claim. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii) and
filed his Complaint on March 8, 2018, which was docketed on
March 12, 2018. See ECF No. 1, Compl. at 7. In it,
Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested in 2014 for driving
with a suspended license, a charge on which he proceeded to
trial because he alleges that he was not operating the
vehicle. See id. at 6. Plaintiff alleges that he was
charged with that offense on October 17, 2017. Id.
Plaintiff states that he was sentenced to ninety (90) days in
jail for the offense but received no credit for time already
Defendant Judge Lacavara, Plaintiff states that the judge
served him “an injustice by sentencing [him] to a
driving while suspended while not being in control of [the]
vehicle” after the judge said that he would dismiss the
charge if the officer came to court and testified that the
Plaintiff was not in control of the vehicle. Id. at
4. Plaintiff does not allege that the officer did in fact
testify that the Plaintiff was not in control of the vehicle.
As to Defendant Prosecutor Fiore, Plaintiff alleges that the
prosecutor called his wife a prostitute and that the
prosecutor also agreed to drop the charge if the officer came
to court and testified that Plaintiff was not in control of
the vehicle. Id. at 6.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
1915(e)(2) and 1915A requires a court to review complaints
prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding
in forma pauperis. The Court 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) and 1915A because Plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis and is incarcerated.
See ECF No. 7 (granting in forma pauperis
survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim, the complaint must allege “sufficient factual
matter” to show that the claim is facially plausible.
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir.
2009). “‘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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009)). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
Claims Against Defendant Lacavara
does not specify the sort of legal claim he wishes to assert
against Defendant Judge Lacavara. He alleges only that the
judge stated that he would dismiss the charges if the officer
who arrested the Plaintiff testified that Plaintiff was not
in control of the vehicle and that the judge sentenced him to
ninety (90) days in jail with no credit for time served. With
respect to any claim asserted against Judge Lacavara,
judicial immunity would bar Plaintiff's suit for money
damages against him. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 10
(1991) (per curiam) (a judge “shall be free to act upon
his own convictions, without apprehension of personal
consequences to himself”) (quoting Bradley v.
Fisher, 13 Wall. 335, 347, 20 L.Ed. 646 (1872)). A
plaintiff can overcome judicial immunity only when the judge
takes an action outside of the judge's judicial capacity
or in the complete absence of all jurisdiction.
Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11-12. In deciding whether an
act is entitled to judicial immunity, the relevant inquiry is
whether the nature and function of the act was judicial.
Id. at 13. Here, Plaintiff's allegations against
the judge are soundly judicial in nature and Plaintiff makes
no allegation that the judge acted beyond his judicial
capacity or in absence of jurisdiction. As such, the claim
against Judge Lacavara must be dismissed as he is immune from