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Britton v. City of Atlantic

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 11, 2018

LONNIE BRITTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ATLANTIC, et al., Defendants.

          LONNIE BRITTON, Plaintiff pro se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         1. Plaintiff Lonnie Britton, a convicted and sentenced state prisoner currently confined in South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”), has submitted a proposed amended complaint (“PAC”) that the Court construes as a motion to amend his complaint. Motion to Amend, Docket Entry 6. He also moves for the appointment of pro bono counsel, Docket Entry 7.

         2. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint on April 18, 2018 as unintelligible, incomprehensible, and frivolous. It granted Plaintiff one final opportunity to submit a coherent complaint in the interests of justice. April 18, 2018 Order, Docket Entry 5.

         3. The PAC alleges the Office of the Public Defender (“the Office”) “has a policy to the end that no innocent person shall be convicted, and that the guilty, when convicted shall be convicted only after a fair trial according to due process of the law.” PAC ¶ 3

         4. He alleges the Office negligently hired Omar Aguilar to represent Plaintiff in his criminal trial and failed to “formulate and adopt rules and regulations as are necessary to prevent Aguilar and other staff members from invariable patterns of unconstitutional conduct.” Id. ¶¶ 4-5.

         5. Plaintiff alleges Robert Moran failed to supervise Aguilar and other members of the Office and did not “provide all the necessary services to Britton and facilities of representation; including investigation and preparation to enforce the state declared policy for the realization of the constitutional guarantee to Britton.” Id. ¶¶ 13-14.

         6. Plaintiff further alleges Aguilar counseled him “to accept an agreement to have bail reduced which was deficient and showed prejudice of counsel to Britton's right to have bail.” Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff states Moran was aware of the Office's “custom of influencing or advising clients to voluntarily and intelligently except [sic] unilaterally negotiated plea bargains at which appear to be a function controlled by administrative direction . . . .” Id.

         7. Plaintiff states he waived his right to counsel on January 23, 2015 because he “objected to Aguilar's conduct of incompetence, unhonesty [sic] and unfair pattern of conduct in assisting him in handling his case.” Id. ¶¶ 26-27.

         8. Plaintiff further alleges Eric Shenkus, another Public Defender who occasionally appeared on Plaintiff's behalf, failed to communicate with him to discuss strategy. Id. ¶ 40.

         9. Plaintiff alleges Steven Rando, a detective with the Atlantic City Police Department, improperly administered his Miranda[1] rights and enticed Plaintiff to “involuntary confess” before arresting him without a complaint or warrant. Id. ¶¶ 50-56.

         10. According to Plaintiff, Deputy Court Administrator Yolonda Shabazz signed the warrant stating she found probable cause for arrest after he was detained by Detective Rando. Id. ¶¶ 47, 62-66.

         11. Plaintiff alleges Joe Fury identified himself as a FBI agent when he arrived at the Atlantic City Police Department. Id. ¶ 57. Plaintiff states Fury coerced him into making an involuntary statement by “making reference to Federal custody and help that Britton could receive . . . .” Id. ¶ 60.

         12. Plaintiff alleges the Atlantic City Municipal Court “failed to train or supervise Shabazz, Rando, and Fury in the execution of government policy in the procedures of filing the complaint and ...


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