United States District Court, D. New Jersey
L. WOLFSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, Dexter Sullivan (“Sullivan”), was a
pretrial detainee at the Middlesex County Adult Correctional
Institution at the time this action was filed. He is
proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint
filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This Court previously
granted Sullivan leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
(ECF No. 4.)
Court must now review the complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e) and 28 U.S.C. § 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
suit. For the following reasons, Sullivan's conspiracy
claim against Russell J. Curley will be dismissed with
prejudice; however, the malicious prosecution claim against
him is dismissed without prejudice. Sullivan's claims
against Judge Joseph L. Rhea are dismissed with prejudice.
factual allegations of the complaint will be construed as
true for the purposes of this opinion. The complaint names as
defendants Judge Joseph L. Rhea of the Superior Court of New
Jersey, Criminal Division, Middlesex County and Russell J.
Curley, an Assistant Prosecutor in the Middlesex County
Prosecutor's Office. (Compl., ECF No. 1.)
appears that in or around April 2017, Sullivan's attorney
filed on his behalf a motion to dismiss Indictment No.
16-10-01566, under which he was charged with crimes unknown
to this Court. (Id. ¶ 6.) Sullivan claims that
Curley submitted his brief in opposition to that motion on
April 27, 2017. (Id.) Thereafter a motion hearing
was scheduled before Judge Rhea for June 2017. (Id.)
It appears that the motion hearing was adjourned several
times during 2017, and, at the time the complaint in this
matter was filed, had been scheduled for December 2017.
claims that no reason was provided for adjourning the motion
hearing and that he objected on the record to the
adjournments. (Id.) Sullivan asserts that Judge Rhea
adjourned the motion in an attempt to “garner guilty
pleas by compromising due process rights to be heard by
electing to arbitrarily ignore meritorious motions.”
(Id.) Sullivan alleges that Curley conspired with
Judge Rhea to deny him his due process rights and further
claims that Curley abused the grand jury process by not
presenting evidence of probable cause to support the
indictment against Sullivan. (Id. ¶ 4.)
seeks an order compelling Judge Rhea to hold a hearing on his
motion to dismiss the indictment and removing Judge Rhea and
Curley from his case “for their unprofessional
conduct.” (Id. ¶ 7.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 26,
1996) (“PLRA”), district courts must review
prisoner complaints when the prisoner (1) is proceeding
in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) or (2) seeks redress against a governmental
employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The
PLRA directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss claims
that are frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b);
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).
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 Fed.Appx. 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (per
curiam); see also Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx.
230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (discussing 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287
Fed.Appx. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(b)). That standard is set forth in Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). To survive the
Court's 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)
(internal quotation marks 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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Fair Wind
Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d
Cir. 2014). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555).
pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam);
Glunk v. Noone, 689 Fed.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir.
2017) (per curiam). Nevertheless, “pro se litigants
still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to
support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina,
Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013).