The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT W. SWEET
The City and the District Attorney (collectively the "Municipal Defendants") have moved for judgments pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the complaint of Plaintiff Ana M. Rochez ("Rochez"), brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Court Officer Kenneth Mittleton ("Mittleton"), four other unnamed individual defendants designated in her complaint as John Does 1-3 and Jane Roe (together with Mittleton, the "Court Officer Defendants"), the City of New York (the "City"), and the Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson ("Johnson" or the "District Attorney"). In the alternative, the defendants have moved for an order pursuant to Rules 42 and 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure bifurcating the action against the Municipal Defendants and staying discovery. For the following reasons, the motion for judgment is granted and the complaint is dismissed.
Plaintiff Rochez is a resident of the State of New York and resides within the City of New York.
Defendant Kenneth Mittleton is a resident of the State of New York (the "State") employed by the State as a Court Officer assigned to the Criminal Court of the City of New York for Bronx County (the "Criminal Court").
Defendant the City is a municipal corporation of the State of New York and is a "person" for the purposes of suit brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Monell v. New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978).
Defendant Johnson is the duly-elected District Attorney of Bronx County. Although the District Attorney is a county rather than a city official, the District Attorney of each of the five counties in the City is considered to be a municipal policy maker for purposes of municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Walker v. City of New York, 974 F.2d 293, 301 (2d Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 122 L. Ed. 2d 762, 113 S. Ct. 1387 and cert. denied 122 L. Ed. 2d 784, 113 S. Ct. 1412 (1993). Johnson and the City are collectively referred to as the "City Defendants."
Defendants John Does 1-3 (the "John Does") and Jane Roe ("Roe") are certain male and female court officers employed by the State as court officers assigned to the Criminal Court.
The City Defendants have conceded the following facts solely for purposes of this motion:
Rochez returned to Mittleton and asked him why he had given her misinformation, upon which Mittleton began to abuse her verbally. Rochez proceeded to protest, and Mittleton arrested her and handcuffed her without provocation or justification and with full knowledge that he did not have probable cause to arrest her. After being detained for some hours by Mittleton and the other court officers, Rochez was released upon being issued a summons prepared by Mittleton falsely accusing her of disorderly conduct, although the City alleges she must have been given an appearance ticket.
The summons or ticket required her to appear in the Summons All Purpose ("SAP") Part of the Criminal Court on February 10, 1992.
On February 10, 1992, Rochez appeared with counsel as directed at the SAP Part of the Criminal Court before Judicial Hearing Officer Dennis Edwards, who was not an active Judge of the Criminal Court. After Rochez objected to proceeding before Dennis Edwards but announced her readiness to proceed before an appropriate Judge, the case was adjourned to February 21, 1992. On February 21, 1992, Rochez appeared with counsel before the Honorable Michael R. Sonberg, who dismissed her case before arraignment. Rochez alleges that at no time during the proceedings on either day did the District Attorney, or any person purporting to be authorized to act on his behalf, make any appearance in the matter. Rochez then filed this lawsuit claiming violations of her constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment in addition to one count each of common-law false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Rochez alleges that the District Attorney and his official predecessors in office have established or permitted a municipal policy under which private citizens, as complaining witnesses, commence and prosecute crimes in the SAP Part of the Criminal Court without the specific knowledge, consent or supervision of the District Attorney or any of his appointed and trained designees (the "Municipal Policy"). She alleges that Mittleton issued her the appearance ticket pursuant to and in reliance on the Municipal Policy, and that therefore the Municipal Policy proximately caused the alleged violations of her constitutional rights.
The City Defendants moved to dismiss Rochez's complaint on April 14, 1993. The motion was argued on June 2, 1993, and considered ...