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WAHAD v. FBI

March 1, 1998

DHORUBA BIN WAHAD, formerly Richard Dhoruba Moore, Plaintiff, against FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, et al., Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOWE

 MARY JOHNSON LOWE, U.S.D.J.

 Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) ("Rule 15(a)"), to amend the Fourth Amended Complaint. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks to add a cause of action for violations of his due process rights under Section 6 of Article I of the New York State Constitution. Defendants City of New York and Michael Codd (collectively referred to herein as "Municipal Defendants") oppose the motion. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

 BACKGROUND

 The Court assumes familiarity with the facts of this case, see Wahad v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 132 F.R.D. 17 (S.D.N.Y. 1990), and will briefly summarize the facts pertinent to this motion. This action was filed on December 10, 1975. Plaintiff's complaint alleged illegal surveillance and initiation of false criminal charges by past and present federal and local officials. Plaintiff claims that these actions, directed against him and the Black Panther Party, violated his rights under the United States Constitution and various federal statutes.

 Plaintiff is a former leader of the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was a member of the chapter from 1968 to 1971. In 1971, he was arrested for the attempted murder of two New York City police officers. In 1973, a jury convicted Plaintiff on two counts of attempted murder and felony possession of a weapon. The state court sentenced Plaintiff to 25 years in prison. In 1993, after Plaintiff had served 19 years in prison, his conviction was vacated by the New York State Supreme Court.

 Plaintiff claims that, during his criminal trial, agents and officers of defendant City of New York "suborned perjurious testimony[], withheld exculpatory evidence, and fabricated physical evidence" in violation of his due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. See Fourth Am. Compl. PP 39-47, 67. These federal claims fall under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). Plaintiff seeks leave to file an amended complaint in order to add a cause of action for these alleged violations under the due process clause of Section 6 of Article I of the New York State Constitution ("State Due Process Clause").

 DISCUSSION

 I. Legal Standard Governing Rule 15(a)

 Rule 15(a) provides that leave to amend "shall be freely granted when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). A district court, however, is "justified in denying an amendment if the proposed amendment could not withstand a motion to dismiss." Gray v. Furia Org., Inc., 896 F. Supp. 144, 147 (S.D.N.Y. 1995). A claim may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ("Rule 12(b)(6)") if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which could entitle him to relief." Cohen v. Koenig, 25 F.3d 1168, 1172 (2d Cir. 1994). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, courts must accept plaintiff's allegations as true, together with such reasonable inferences as may be drawn in its favor. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974).

 II. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend

 Plaintiff seeks leave to amend the Fourth Amended Complaint in order to add a damages claim for a violation of his rights under the State Due Process Clause. *fn1" No explicit constitutional or statutory authority sanctions a private right of action for violations of the New York State Constitution. Brown v. State of New York, 89 N.Y.2d 172, 186, 652 N.Y.S.2d 223, 674 N.E.2d 1129 (1996). Thus, the Court must determine whether Plaintiff's proposed amendment entails an implied right of action under the State Due Process Clause.

 Plaintiff argues that the New York Court of Appeals "implicitly if not explicitly" recognized a private right of action under the State Due Process Clause in Brown v. State of New York, 89 N.Y.2d 172, 652 N.Y.S.2d 223, 674 N.E.2d 1129 (1996). See Pl.'s Mem. at 4. In response, Municipal Defendants contend that "New York State courts would decline to imply a cause of action for violation of the [due process] provision" of the New York Constitution under the Brown analysis. Defs.' Mem. at 5. The Court agrees.

 In Brown, the New York Court of Appeals recognized a "narrow remedy" against the State of New York for violations of the equal protection and search and seizure guarantees of the New York State Constitution. 89 N.Y.2d at 192. The claims in Brown arose out of a state police investigation following the attack of an elderly woman. Id. at 176. The class action complaint alleged that all "non-white" males found in the City of Oneonta were stopped and interrogated in ...


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