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Bayette v. Vanamburgh

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 17, 2019

KOFI BAYETTE, Plaintiff,
v.
SUSAN VANAMBURGH, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          HON. BRIAN R. MARTINOTTI United States District Judge

         Before this Court is pro se prisoner Kofi Bayette's (“Plaintiff”) Complaint, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Based on his affidavit of indigence (ECF No. 3), the Court previously granted him leave to proceed in forma pauperis and ordered the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint. (ECF No. 2.)

         At this 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, and for good cause appearing, the Complaint is DISMISSED.

         I. Background

         In 1993, Plaintiff was tried and convicted of two counts of sexual assault; two counts of burglary; two counts of possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose; two counts of criminal restraint; and two counts of terroristic threats by a jury in Morris County.[1] Defendant Susan E. Vanamburgh served as his public defender at trial. (ECF No. 1 at 8.) He alleges Defendant Vanamburgh rendered ineffective assistance when she failed to call an expert to rebut the testimony of the State's expert. (Id. at 8-9.) She also failed to properly investigate whether one of the State's experts, Defendant Tighe, had proper credentials to serve as an expert witness. (Id. at 12.)

         Plaintiff further alleges Defendant New Jersey State Police Laboratory has been “letting their Forensic Science giving [sic] flawed testimony, to sent [sic] Black and poor people to prison.” (Id. at 16.) Specifically, Defendants Tighe was employed by the Laboratory, and the Laboratory permitted her to testify as an expert in Plaintiff's trial even though she was not qualified. (Id. at 18.) In addition, the Laboratory

had the expert Gail Tighe, that the inconlosn [sic], so the New Jersey State Police only could'n [sic] say that they can't say that I did this, but can't say that I did not do it. Gail Tighe say she is an expert, so why she couldn't say were the hair came from.

(Id. at 20.) Finally, he alleges the Morris County Prosecutor's Office had to have known Defendant Tighe was not an expert but used her testimony anyway. (Id. at 33-34.)

         Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Standard for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

         Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996) (“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs district courts to 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 a prisoner who is proceeding as indigent.

         According to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, “a pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To 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. UPMS Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation 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.” Belmont v. MB Inv. Partners, Inc., 708 F.3d 470, 483 n.17 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, “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) (citation omitted).

         B. ...


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