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GREENE v. BROWN

March 23, 1982

Clascedar GREENE, Plaintiff,
v.
Detective Richard BROWN, Individually, and as Agent for the City of New York Police Department, Mary Edwards, Individually and jointly with Robert LeeEdwards and Det. Richard Brown, and the City of New York Police Department, and Robert LeeEdwards, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCLAUGHLIN

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This is an action alleging violations of the plaintiff's civil rights (42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985), as well as violations of New York law, specifically false arrest, malicious prosecution and defamation. The plaintiff asserts that she was arrested unlawfully and that this arrest was effectuated pursuant to a conspiracy entered into by a New York City Police Officer, Detective Richard Brown, Mary Edwards, plaintiff's ex-landlord, and her son, Robert Edwards. *fn1"

 The City defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons provided below, this Court finds there are no genuine factual issues, and that Detective Brown and the New York City Police Department are therefore entitled to summary judgment.

 I. The Facts

 The undisputed facts are as follows. In April, 1978, the plaintiff was a tenant of Mary Edwards. On April 25, 1978, Mary Edwards requested that the plaintiff vacate her premises for non-payment of rent. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff's belongings were put out on the street. At approximately 2:15 a.m. on April 26, 1978, Officer Blackshear of the 78th Police Precinct responded to a complaint lodged by Mary Edwards that Ms. Greene had threatened "to get even with her" and had thrown a bottle of gasoline through Mary Edwards' window.

 At approximately noon, on April 26, 1978, Detective Richard Brown, and his partner, Detective Frederick Simon, came to speak to Mary and Robert Edwards and to other tenants in the Edwards' home. Mary Edwards repeated what she had told to Officer Blackshear earlier, and further stated that she had seen Ms. Greene outside her home at about 2:30 a.m. that morning, and that a few minutes later a bottle of gasoline was thrown through her window. She then went to the window and saw Ms. Greene running away.

 According to the affidavits submitted by both Detectives Brown and Simon, an inspection of the Edwards' home revealed a large rock on the floor, a broken window, a bottle with a heavy smell of gasoline, a stain on the bed, and a strong odor of gasoline throughout the apartment.

 The detectives also stated that some of the tenants indicated they had seen Ms. Greene outside the Edwards' house harassing the Edwards. On April 28, 1978, another telephone complaint was lodged by Mary Edwards concerning an additional rock-throwing incident in which Ms. Greene was allegedly involved. During the next week, Detective Simon attempted to locate Ms. Greene, however, his search was unsuccessful.

 On May 18, 1978, a man who said he was living in the Edwards' home called to advise Detective Brown that he could find Ms. Greene at the Long Island Railroad station on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. *fn2" The caller further stated that he knew Ms. Greene's location because Ms. Greene had requested that he serve legal papers on Mary Edwards and that Ms. Greene was awaiting a telephone call confirming the service of the papers. Lastly, he told Detective Brown that Ms. Greene would be wearing a brown coat and an orange and brown scarf.

 Detective Brown went to the railroad station, accompanied by two undercover officers, to apprehend Ms. Greene. Upon arriving at the station, the officers saw a woman who matched the caller's description sitting in a telephone booth. The detective then identified himself as a policeman and showed Ms. Greene his badge. After Ms. Greene identified herself and indicated that she knew Mary Edwards, Detective Brown placed her under arrest on charges of attempted arson, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and harassment.

 Detective Brown then forcibly removed Ms. Greene from the telephone booth, flagged down a passing police car and took Ms. Greene to the 78th precinct for booking. This forcible removal was necessitated as Ms. Greene did not believe the Detective's representations that he was a police officer. While Ms. Greene was at the precinct, Mary Edwards came to the station and signed a formal complaint.

 Ms. Greene was arraigned the next day and was held on $ 250 bail which she was unable to post. An indictment charged Ms. Greene with four counts, two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree and two counts of harassment. *fn3" On August 15, 1979, a hearing was held before Judge Fuchs in the Brooklyn Criminal Court. Over objections of the Assistant District Attorney, Judge Fuchs dismissed all four counts "in the interests of justice" pursuant to Section 170.40 of the New York State Criminal Procedure Law. The dismissal was ordered by Judge Fuchs because he had determined that even if Ms. Greene were found guilty on all four counts, he would not sentence her to any additional time since Ms. Greene has already been incarcerated for 100 days pending trial.

 II. The ...


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