The fact that defendant is not an actual employee of the District
Attorney's office, however, is not dispositive. As stated, the test for
immunity is a functional one that focuses not on job titles, but on the
nature of the actions in question. Although the defendants in Hill were
employees of the district attorney's office, the Second Circuit did not
condition their immunity upon that fact, and to do so would run contrary
to the purpose behind the functional test adopted by the Second Circuit
and other courts of appeals.
I also am not persuaded by plaintiff's argument that defendant is not
immune because plaintiff's claim is for false arrest. "The decision to
file a criminal complaint and seek issuance of an arrest warrant are
quasi-judicial duties involved in `initiating a prosecution.'" Joseph,
795 F.2d at 555. "As such, they are protected under Imbler, for `securing
the person of the defendant is part of initiating a prosecution and
should be insulated.'" Ireland, 113 F.3d at 1446 (quoting Joseph, 795
F.2d at 556). See Ireland, 113 F.3d at 1447 (prosecutors were "entitled
to absolute prosecutorial immunity for deciding to file a criminal
complaint against Ireland, authorizing and preparing the complaint,
seeking a warrant for her arrest, and . . . presenting the charging
documents to the judge. These were advocacy functions intimately
associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process").
Here, defendant's actions with respect to plaintiff's arrest and the
bringing of the assault charge were clearly prosecutorial in nature, and
were directly related to the decision to prosecute plaintiff. Although
plaintiff's title is that of Investigator, there is no dispute that he did
not actually investigate the underlying events concerning plaintiff's
altercation with Yonge. That investigation was undertaken by others, who
forwarded their findings to defendant. Based upon those findings, which
essentially identified plaintiff as the sole suspect, defendant made the
decision to prepare the accusatory instruments. Since the district
attorney would be entitled to absolute immunity under these
circumstances, defendant is as well. Hill, 45 F.3d at 60.
Furthermore, even if I were to conclude that defendant is not entitled
to absolute immunity, I would find him entitled to qualified immunity.
If, as plaintiff contends, defendant was in effect acting as a police
officer deciding to arrest plaintiff, "the defending officer need only
show `arguable' probable cause." Martinez v. Simonetti, 202 F.3d 625, 634
(2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Lee v. Sandberg, 136 F.3d 94, 103 (2d Cir.
1997)). See also Robison v. Via, 821 F.2d 913, 921 (2d Cir. 1987)
(qualified immunity is warranted if officers of reasonable competence
could disagree on whether the probable cause test was met).
That standard is easily met here. The reports received by defendant
showed that plaintiff and Yonge had been involved in a fight, that Yonge
had suffered a broken nose. In addition, Hankins, an eyewitness, had told
the investigating officers that "Joe [Goncalve] and Rob [Yonge] got into
a fight and Rob did not start it. He head butted Rob first." Defendant's
Ex. G. Thus, the statement of the only eyewitness corroborated Yonge's
statement that plaintiff had assaulted him.*fn2 The fact that the grand
jury did not indict plaintiff does not mean that the test for qualified
immunity has not been met, or even that a false arrest occurred.
Lastly, although defendant does not raise this argument, it should be
noted that at the time that these events occurred, plaintiff was already
being detained pursuant to the earlier drug, weapon, and vehicular
charges, and based upon his prior convictions. There is no evidence to
support plaintiff's conclusory allegation that the assault charge
"demolished" his chances of being released on bail on those other
charges. Since plaintiff would have been in custody anyway, he cannot
state a claim for false arrest. See Ba v. New York City Police Dep't,
No. 99CIV11984, 2001 WL 1098019 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 19, 2001) (where
plaintiff was charged with assault and sexual abuse in the same
complaint, and detained on both charges, plaintiff could not have
sustained a constitutional injury in the nature of false arrest with
respect to sexual abuse charge, even if he could establish that he was
falsely accused of sexual abuse, since the assault charge was based on
ample and undisputed probable cause); Corbett v. White, No. 00 C 4661,
2001 WL 1098054 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 17, 2001) (since plaintiff was already in
custody on vehicular charges when defendant allegedly gave him a copy of
criminal assault and battery complaints against him, any claim against
defendant arising out of the assault and battery charges would
necessarily be a malicious prosecution claim rather than a false arrest
Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Docket Item 7) is granted.
Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment (Docket Item 15) is
denied, and the complaint is dismissed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.