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Voigtsberger v. Oal

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 27, 2019

JUSTIN VOIGTSBERGER, Plaintiff,
v.
NJ OAL JUDGE JOSEPH ASCIONE, WARDEN KAREN TAYLOR, FORMER N.J. AG CHRISTOPHER PORRINO, and PAMELA ULLMAN, Defendants.

          JUSTIN VOIGTSBERGER, Appearing pro se.

          ANNE E. WALTERS OFFICE OF COUNTY COUNSEL, Attorney for Defendant Warden Karen Taylor.

          MICHAEL RALPH SARNO OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NEW JERSEY TORT LITIGATION AND JUDICIARY SECTION Attorney for Defendants N.J. OAL Judge Joseph Ascione, Former N.J. AG Christopher Porrino, and Pamela Ullman.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This case concerns 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against an administrative law judge, a warden, and a former state attorney general and a deputy state attorney general. Pending before the Court are Defendant Warden Karen Taylor's (“Warden Taylor”) Motion to Dismiss and Defendants N.J. OAL Judge Joseph Ascione (“Judge Ascione”), Former N.J. AG Christopher Porrino (“AG Porrino”), and Pamela Ullman's (“DAG Ullman”) Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons stated herein, this Court will grant all Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and dismiss this case in its entirety.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court takes its facts from Plaintiff's Complaint and the public records[1] filed by Defendant Warden Taylor. This matter stems from Plaintiff's termination from the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). It appears from the substantial record created at the administrative and state court level that Plaintiff was hired as a Corrections Officer at CCCF on August 6, 2012. His hiring was subject to a working test period, which began on November 18, 2012. Plaintiff was terminated at the end of this test period on November 29, 2013. Defendants assert his termination was because he received unsatisfactory performance evaluations for unsatisfactory work. Plaintiff alleges it was in retaliation for a complaint he made against “SERGEANT DUDDY WHO WAS FRIENDS WITH DEPUTY WARDEN PIZZARO.” (Pl.'s Compl. 4.)

         His termination precipitated litigation. Plaintiff appealed his termination to the Civil Service Commission (the “Commission”) on November 29, 2013. The Commission referred the matter to the Office of Administrative Law (the “OAL”), where Administrative Law Judge Joseph Ascione presided over Plaintiff's administrative hearing on December 15 and 17, 2014. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at this hearing, Jeffrey S. Ziegelheim. During that proceeding, Plaintiff claims “JUDGE ASCIONE VIOLATED [HIS] DUE PROCESS RIGHTS. HE SAID THE CASE COULD PROCEED WITH[OUT] ME HAVING ANY OF MY EVIDENCE IN THE TRIAL . . . HE LATER WROTE A DECISION WITH OVER 63 ERRORS IN IT[, ] SOME HARMFUL, REVERSIBLE, AND SOME PLAIN.” (Pl.'s Compl. 3.) Also during the administrative hearing, Plaintiff claims “KAREN TAYLOR COMMITTED PERJURY.” (Pl.'s Compl. 3.) At some point, Plaintiff claims he provided transcripts to AG Porrino, but he “FAILED TO DO HIS JOB.” (Pl.'s Compl. 3.)

         Judge Ascione upheld Plaintiff's termination in a May 4, 2015 opinion. Thereafter, Plaintiff appealed the administrative ruling - pro se - to the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division. It appears AG Porrino and DAG Ullman appeared on behalf of the Commission. On October 17, 2017, the Appellate Division affirmed Judge Ascione's decision upholding CCCF's termination of Plaintiff. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed his complaint in this case on October 15, 2018.

         Plaintiff brings individual and official capacity claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Judge Ascione and Warden Taylor, and only official capacity claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against AG Porrino and DAG Ullman on the basis of the above allegations. As for relief requested, Plaintiff states the following:

I WOULD LIKE FOR THE COURT AND JUDGE TO READ MY BRIEF AND “ERRORS IN JUDGES DECISION” TRANSCRIPTS FOR PROOF REVERSE THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURTS SO I AM REINSTATED. I AM AWARDED BACKPAY AND ALL MY OTHER VACATIONS AND SICK DAYS I WOULD HAVE ACCRUED WHATEVER MONETARY AWARD THE COURT SEES FIT FOR THE BANKRUPTCY SHORT SALE [OF PLAINTIFF'S HOUSE] AND STRUGGLE TO PAY MY BILLS. . . .I HAVE SPENT NEARLY $15, 000.00 ON THIS SO FAR 7500.00 ON THE ATTORNEY, TRANSCRIPTS, SENT ALL PAPERWORK CERTIFIED OR DROVE ITEMS TO JUSTICE COMPLEX, COPIES, INK, PRINTER, COMPUTER. THIS DOESN'T INCLUDE THE HUNDREDS OF HOURS GATHERING ALL INFORMATION WRITING EVERYTHING OUT. THIS FORGERY AND PERJURY HAS TURNED MY LIFE UPSIDE DOWN THIS COULD BE AS BAD AS AN INJURY BECOMING PERMANENTLY DISFIGURED.

(Pl.'s Compl. 5.)

         In lieu of answering, Defendant Warden Taylor filed a Motion to Dismiss on November 28, 2018 and the remaining Defendants (Judge Ascione, AG Porrino, and DAG Ullman) filed their Motion to Dismiss on December 10, 2018. Plaintiff has opposed these motions through a series of letters filed with the ...


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