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Miller v. Nassau County District Attorney's Office

December 28, 2009

MCKINLEY MILLER III, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NASSAU COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE; HEMPSTEAD POLICE DEPARTMENT; MERYL BERKOWITZ, COUNTY COURT JUDGE; DANIEL CONTI, ATTORNEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Presently before the Court is the Amended Complaint of McKinley Miller III ("Plaintiff"), pro se, in forma pauperis and incarcerated, against the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, Hempstead Police Department, County Court Judge Meryl Berkowitz, (also identified as his court appointed attorney), and attorney Daniel Conti (collectively "Defendants") alleging unidentified claims relating to Plaintiff's 1998 arrest and 1999 indictment. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is dismissed with prejudice as against the Nassau County District Attorney's Office and Hempstead Police Department, and Plaintiff is granted one more opportunity to amend his remaining claims.

BACKGROUND

While difficult to discern, in his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff appears to allege that in September 1998, he was arrested and subsequently indicted in court. Plaintiff alleges that his court appointed attorney, Meryl Berkowitz, "misconducted herself" in the grand jury proceedings. (Compl. § III.) Plaintiff appears to allege that there were two indictments for the same charge. Plaintiff seeks "50 million dollars ($5,000,000.00) [sic] for violation of my civil rights and unlawful incarceration due to a fraudulent indictment from each defendant and, vacate the illegal, fraudulent felony drug conviction off my record." (Compl. § III.)

DISCUSSION

I. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 Application

Section 1915 of Title 28 requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis action when it is satisfied that the action is "(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). An action is frivolous when: (1) the claim is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory," or (2) the "factual contentions are clearly baseless[,]" Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327, 109 S.Ct. 1927, 1833, 104 L.Ed. 2d 338 (1989), "such as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy." Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d Cir. 1990).

II. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Prison Litigation Reform Act

The 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915, requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if the action is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). The Court is required to dismiss the action as soon as it makes such a determination. See id.

Since Plaintiff is incarcerated and seeks relief against government officials, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A also requires that the Court dismiss the Complaint sua sponte if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Courts are obliged to construe the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally, particularly allegations of civil rights violations. See Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008); McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004). If a liberal reading of the complaint "gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated," courts must grant leave to amend the complaint. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000).

Notwithstanding the liberal pleading standards, all complaints must contain at least some minimum level of factual support. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in relevant part, that a complaint "shall contain... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," and "[e]ach averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct." FED. R. CIV. P. 8. Essentially, Rule 8 ensures that a complaint provides a defendant with sufficient notice of the claims against him. See Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). In that vein, the Second Circuit has held that complaints containing only vague or conclusory accusations and no specific facts regarding the alleged wrongdoing do not allow defendants to frame an intelligent defense and are therefore subject to dismissal. See Alfaro Motors, 814 F.2d at 887.

A. Section 1983

Plaintiff does not specify the nature of ...


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