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Tota v. Ward

February 22, 2008

ANTHONY SAMUEL TOTA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JUDGE JOHN T. WARD, JR., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

In this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pro se Plaintiff Anthony Samuel Tota*fn1 alleges that Defendant Judge John T. Ward, Jr., violated his constitutional rights by directing that he be committed to a psychiatric center. Presently before this Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn2 For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

In 2003, Plaintiff appeared in Jamestown, NY, City Court on arson-related felony charges. (Defendant's Rule 56 Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Defendant's Statement), Docket No. 4, ¶ 1.) On August 7, 2003, the Honorable James Abdella, Jamestown City Court Judge, directed that Plaintiff be examined under N.Y. Criminal Procedure Law ("N.Y. C.P.L.") § 730 to determine his capacity to understand the proceedings against him and the need, if any, for treatment. (Krauza Decl., Docket No. 5, Exhibit A.)

Thereafter, Plaintiff was indicted on arson and criminal possession of a weapon charges, which came before the Honorable John T. Ward, Jr., Chautauqua County Court Judge. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 2; Krauza Decl., Exhibit B.) During the course of the proceedings before him, Judge Ward determined that Plaintiff was an incapacitated person, and therefore issued an Order of Commitment pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L. § 730.50 on January 22, 2004, directing that Plaintiff be committed to the custody of the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health for care and treatment for a period not to exceed one year. (Kauza Decl., Exhibit B.) Judge Ward's Order directed that the treatment facility notify the court in writing when it determined that Plaintiff was no longer incapacitated. (Kauza Decl., Exhibit B.) Plaintiff was committed to the Rochester Regional Forensic Unit of the Rochester Psychiatric Center. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 4; Kauza Decl., Exhibit B.)

On December 30, 2004, Laurence Guttmacher, M.D., Clinical Director of the Rochester Psychiatric Center, notified the court that Plaintiff was no longer an incapacitated person and requested that he be returned to law enforcement custody. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 5; Kauza Decl., Exhibit C.)

On January 12, 2005, Plaintiff was returned to the County Court, where he was arraigned on January 14, 2005. (Plaintiff's Submission in Opposition, Docket No. 12-2, p. 2.) Thereafter, on November 27, 2006, Plaintiff pled guilty to arson in the fifth degree, a class A misdemeanor, in satisfaction of the indictment. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 6; Kauza Decl., Exhibit D.) Judge Ward sentenced him to a definitive term of one year, time served. (Kauza Decl., Exhibit D.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff instituted this action on January 11, 2007, by filing a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on June 6, 2007. Plaintiff responded in opposition on July 31, 2007. Defendant filed a reply on August 7, 2007. This Court took the motion under advisement without oral argument on September 30, 2007.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is warranted where the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A "genuine issue" exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, ...


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