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Castro v. Atlantic County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 2, 2018

MICHAEL CASTRO, Plaintiff,
v.
ATLANTIC COUNTY, ATLANTIC COUNTY PROSECUTORS OFFICE, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, MULLICA TOWNSHIP, et al., Defendants.

         APPEARANCES:

          DOUGLAS L. CODY CODY & CODY, ESQS.

          MARTIN P. DUFFEY COZEN AND O'CONNOR On behalf of Plaintiff

          JAMES T. DUGAN ATLANTIC COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF LAW On behalf of Atlantic County Defendants

          ROBERT J. MCGUIRE NEW JERSEY OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL On behalf of State of New Jersey Defendants

          THOMAS B. REYNOLDS REYNOLDS & HORN, P.C. On behalf of Mullica Township Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         WHEREAS, this matter concerns constitutional and state law claims by Plaintiff arising out of his arrests and grand jury indictments for murder and other charges, all of which were ultimately dismissed; and

         WHEREAS, in resolving the State of New Jersey and Atlantic County Defendants' motions to dismiss, this Court dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims against those Defendants, [1] except for:

• Plaintiff's constitutional claims against the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office (“ACPO”) Investigator Defendants Mattioli, Dooley, and Deshields in their individual capacities; and
• Plaintiff's state law claims against the State of New Jersey and the ACPO Investigator Defendants Mattioli, Dooley, and Deshields (Docket No. 100 at 24, 29); and

WHEREAS, in finding that Plaintiff's state law claims could proceed against the State and the ACPO Investigator Defendants, the Court noted, “Under New Jersey law, when county prosecutors and their subordinates perform law enforcement and prosecutorial functions, ‘they act as agents of the State,' and the State must indemnify a judgment arising from their conduct, ” Watkins v. City of Newark Police Department, 2018 WL 1306267, at *3 (D.N.J. 2018) (citing Hyatt v. Cty. of Passaic, 340 Fed.Appx. 833, 836 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Wright v. State, 778 A.2d 443, 461-62, 464 (N.J. 2001)); and

WHEREAS, the Court further noted that in contrast, “counties are liable for a county prosecutor's administrative tasks unrelated to their strictly prosecutorial functions, such as personnel decisions, ” id. (citing Hyatt, 340 Fed.Appx. at 836) (quoting Coleman v. Kaye, 87 F.3d 1491, 1499 (3d Cir. 1996)); and
WHEREAS, the ACPO is therefore considered to be “the State, ” and must be defended and indemnified by the State, for its law enforcement and prosecutorial functions, but the ACPO is considered to be “the County” for its ...

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