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Williams v. City of New York

August 7, 2008

RAHJEEM WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard J. Sullivan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Rahjeem Williams, a prisoner incarcerated at Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia, New York and proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages for alleged violations of his civil rights. Specifically, plaintiff asserts claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and deliberate indifference in connection with his arrest and conviction in the State of New York, Bronx County, in 2005, for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. In addition to monetary damages, plaintiff seeks to be immediately released from prison.

Defendants now move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the grounds that plaintiff's claims are barred by the favorable termination doctrine set forth by the Supreme Court in Heck v. Humphrey,512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). For the following reasons, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 10, 2003, plaintiff was indicted on four drug-related charges: 1) criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree; 2) criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree; 3) criminal sale of a controlled substance on or near school grounds; and 4) unlawful possession of marijuana. See N.Y. Penal Law §§ 220.16(1), 220.39, 220.44, and 221.05 (McKinney 2008); (see Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 10A.)*fn1 The charges of criminal sale of a controlled substance on or near school grounds and unlawful possession of marijuana were dismissed before plaintiff's trial. (See Compl. Ex. 14.) On July 7, 2005, a jury found plaintiff guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 220.16(1). (See Pl.'s Opp'n Exs. 7, 8.) The charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree resulted in a hung jury after trial and was subsequently dismissed. (See id.)

On September 26, 2005, plaintiff was sentenced as a second felony offender to four and one-half to nine years imprisonment. (See Compl. Ex. 1.) On March 14, 2007, plaintiff filed a petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his conviction. On February 13, 2008, the Honorable John G. Koeltl, District Judge, dismissed plaintiff's petition without prejudice for failure to exhaust state court remedies, as his appeal was still pending at that time in the Appellate Division, First Department. See Williams v. Corcoran, No. 07 Civ. 2182 (JGK), 2008 WL 394806, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 13, 2008).

Subsequently, plaintiff commenced the instant action, relating to his July 7, 2005 conviction. (See Compl. at 3, 7.) Specifically, to support his allegations of false arrest and imprisonment, plaintiff argues that there was no probable cause for his arrest or conviction. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff contends that due to misrepresentations and false evidence presented to the grand jury by the arresting officers, probable cause was wrongly established, and accordingly, plaintiff's arrest and imprisonment were not legally justified. (See Pl.'s Opp'n at 2-3; Pl.'s Reply at 8.) Plaintiff also claims that there was no corroborating testimony before the grand jury from any police officers who witnessed plaintiff's involvement in a drug transaction with the arresting officer. (See Compl. at 4.) Finally, plaintiff asserts that he was falsely imprisoned in light of the state court's dismissal of the criminal sale charge at trial, which plaintiff characterizes as a "favorable termination" of his proceedings despite his conviction for criminal possessionof a controlled substance in the third degree. (Id. at 6.) Regarding his claim for malicious prosecution, plaintiff asserts that his "indictment was produced by fraud, perjury, and [other] police conduct undertaken in bad faith." (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff further alleges that his conviction was secured by a conspiracy involving several New York City Police Officers, the Bronx County District Attorney's Office, and the New York Supreme Court justice assigned to his case. (Id. at 10-3.*fn2 ) Specifically, plaintiff contends that several assistant district attorneys and arresting officers made false statements before the grand jury and withheld relevant documents and information. (Id. at 5.)

Plaintiff bases his final claim for deliberate indifference on the failure of the Bronx District Attorney's Office "to train and supervise their employees not to commit perjury." (Id. at 7.) Furthermore, plaintiff alleges that the New York City government and the District Attorney's Office pursued his prosecution under a "policy [designed] to deprive plaintiff of his liberty and . . . of society for more than a year. . . ." (Id. at 12.)

The Court notes that plaintiff's § 1983 claims for false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and deliberate indifference all relate to his underlying conviction for criminal possession of a controlled substance and/or the three charges against him which were subsequently dismissed. The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia, New York, serving a term of four and one-half years to nine years, for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, of which he was convicted.*fn3

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), this Court must accept the factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Cleveland v. Caplaw Enter., 448 F.3d 518, 521 (2d Cir. 2006). The plaintiff must satisfy "a flexible 'plausibility standard,' which obliges a pleader to amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is needed to render the claim plausible." Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157-58 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court, therefore, does not require "heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, --- U.S. ---, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007); see also Iqbal, 490 F.3d at 158 ("[W]e believe the Court is not requiring a universal standard of heightened fact pleading. . . ."). Moreover, as plaintiff is appearing pro se, the Court shall "'construe [his complaint] broadly, and interpret [it] to raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggests.'" Weixel v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of N.Y., 287 F.3d 138, 146 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593, 597 (2d Cir. 2000)); see also Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) ("The policy of liberally construing pro se submissions is driven by the understanding that '[i]mplicit in the right to self-representation is an obligation on the part of the court to make reasonable allowances to protect pro se litigants from inadvertent forfeiture of important rights because of their lack of legal training.'") (quoting Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983)).

III. DISCUSSION

To prevail on a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must show: (1) the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws (2) by a person acting under the color of state law. See 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. "Section 1983 itself creates no substantive rights; it provides only a procedure for redress for the deprivation of rights established elsewhere." Duamutef v. ...


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