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MCDONALD v. DOE

December 31, 1986

WINSTON McDONALD, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE, Head Criminal Court Supervisor, OFFICER RONALD MIEGEL, Criminal Court Officer; FLIEGELMAN, Criminal Court Officer; JOHN DOE No. 1 Criminal Court Officer; DAVID BARNHARD, Assistant District Attorney of Bronx Criminal Court, New York; each individually and in their official capacities, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SWEET

SWEET, D.J.

Defendant David Barnhard ("Barnhard"), Assistant District Attorney of Bronx Criminal Court, New York, has moved this court to dismiss plaintiff Winston McDonald's ("McDonald") complaint against him pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). McDonald, who is pro se,1 submitted an affidavit in reply instead of a memorandum of law, thus, perhaps inadvertently, converting the motion to one for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 12(b) and Rule 56. Barnhard has submitted an affidavit in reply to McDonald's. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 Background

 McDonald, an inmate at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, New York, has sued Barnhard and various named and unnamed guards and court officials under 18 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for a beating he alleges he received on January 13, 1984 In the Bronx Criminal Court Building.

 In brief, McDonald alleges that when he arrived at the courthouse to appear at a proceeding that had been initiated against him several years earlier, two court officers seized him, took him into a private room, and severely beat him. According to the complaint, McDonald's wife (who had accompanied him to court) summoned McDonald's attorney from the courtroom where he had been awaiting them. The lawyer was not permitted to see his client, and the defendant was remanded until the next day. According to McDonald's affidavit, Barnhard orchestrated the beating.

 The complaint continues to allege that McDonald was arrested and falsely charged with entering a courthouse with an alcoholic beverage, resisting arrest, assault, and harassment. In addition, when McDonald was finally brought before the court to make a ball application on the following day, Barnhard knowingly falsely represented to the court that McDonald's fingerprints were not available. Under New York law this would bar McDonald from making his bail application and cause him to be remanded. McDonald alleges that Barnhard did this so that McDonald could not be released on bail until the bruises and swellings that resulted from the beating had gone down.

 Specifically, Barnard is implicated in this train of events by four of McDonald's sworn allegations:

 1) that Barnhard brought false charges against him to intimidate him;

 2) that Barnhard refused to produce evidence relating to one of the alleged false charges;

 3) that Barnhard lied to the court concerning the status of McDonald's fingerprints;

 4) that Barnhard directed the officers to assault and harass McDonald.

 Barnhard, in an affidavit in reply, swears with regard to (1) and (2) that he has no independent recollection of the case, but taking McDonald's claims as true, claims absolute immunity. With regard to (3), Barnhard denies that he deliberately lied to the court and also claims absolute immunity. With regard to (4), Barnhard denies that he directed officers to assault McDonald, points out that this charge is not in McDonald's complaint and appears for the first time in his affidavit in opposition to the motion, and urges the court to give it "absolutely no weight."

 Discussion

 The position of a prosecutor is unique in our legal system. To begin with, the law has imposed on them a duty more stringent than that required of private advocates; it is not a prosecutor's job merely to win cases, but instead to see that justice is done. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215, 83 S. Ct. 1194 (1963). Special powers attach in the exercise of this enhanced duty. For instance, a prosecutor's powers in bringing and reducing charges are immune even from judicial oversight except in extraordinary circumstances. See, e.g., Inmates of Attica Correctional Facility v. Rockefeller, 477 F.2d 375 (2d Cir. 1973) (prosecutorial monopolyon charging); United States v. Ammidown, 162 U.S. App. D.C. 28, 497 F.2d 615 (D.C.Cir. 1973) (prosecutorial latitude in dismissing charges). Because of ...


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