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Yagan v. Dougherty

June 9, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew T. Baxter, United States Magistrate Judge


The Clerk has sent the above civil rights complaint and related submissions to me for my review. On May 5, 2010, pro se plaintiff, Desiree Yagan, filed this action, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. No. 1). In her complaint, she also requests a "Three Judge Court," pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284. Id. Plaintiff has filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). (Dkt. No. 2). At the bottom of pages one through eight of the complaint, plaintiff indicates that this is a "Complaint seeking federal intervention into state courts." (Compl. at 1-8).

On May 18, 2010, plaintiff filed what she has labeled an "Emergency Motion for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief/Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order." (Dkt. No. 3). In her "motion," plaintiff added two defendants and a variety of new factual statements from an incident that occurred between May 11, 2010, and May 14, 2010. (Dkt. No. 3). On May 21, 2010, plaintiff returned to the Clerk's Office and filed a "Supplement" in support of her motion for a Temporary Restraining Order." (Dkt. No. 5). On May 24, 2010, plaintiff filed an additional "Supplement" in support of her application for a Temporary Restraining Order and a "Notice of Removal from State Court." (Dkt. No. 6). On May 28, 2010, plaintiff returned to the Clerk's Office to file another "Ex Parte Emergency Motion for [a] Temporary Restraining Order," including a defendant not named in the original complaint or added in her "Ex Parte" Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO") motion of May 18, 2010. (Dkt. No. 7).

On June 3 and 4, 2010, plaintiff filed two "Emergency Motions" for a TRO, and, later in the day on June 4, 2010, plaintiff filed a "Supplement" to her June 4, 2010 motion for a TRO. (Dkt. No. 10). On June 7, 2010, plaintiff filed another motion for a TRO, due to the alleged theft of her rolling briefcase. (Dkt. No. 12).

I. Background

Once again, plaintiff is attempting to sue various judges of the New York State Court System. Plaintiff names Judge Stephen Dougherty; Judge Kevin Young; Judge Jeffery Merrill; Judge Jack Schultz; Judge David Gideon; and Judge James Tormey. (Compl. at 1). Plaintiff also names Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and J. Patrick Barrett, "Administrative Law Judge Fifth Judicial District."*fn1

Plaintiff sued most of the same defendants in 2008, and that case was dismissed by District Judge David N. Hurd. See Yagan v. Syracuse City Court, et al., 5:08-CV-1176.

Plaintiff's complaint in this action is quite confusing. She begins by stating that she has been denied her right to due process and "habeas corpus" by the "state criminal courts." (Compl. ¶ 11, p.3). She states that this denial "warrants Federal intervention." Id. Plaintiff claims that the District Attorney and the "Judges" have shown "extreme hostility" and "animus" in previous court cases as well as "three ongoing criminal court cases." Id. Plaintiff states that she seeks federal court intervention to enjoin these state court proceedings so that plaintiff may vindicate her rights. (Compl. ¶ 12, p.3). Plaintiff begins her story by stating that defendant Fitzpatrick and his assistants have prosecuted charges resulting from a "series" of false arrests. (Compl. ¶ 14 at p.3). Plaintiff then discusses an "orchestrated" traffic stop that occurred on December of 2006, alleging that she has been falsely arrested and then denied her right to trial "months later." (Compl. ¶¶ 15-17).

Plaintiff appears to complain that the District Attorney was allowed to "prosecute" her for months, only to obtain an "interests of justice" dismissal of the charges from the court. (Compl. ¶ 18-19 at p.4). Plaintiff believes that she has been denied due process because she should have the right to go to trial and be "adjudicated innocent." (Compl. ¶ 19 at p.4). Plaintiff states that each time, the assistant district attorneys have invoked "CPL 170.30"*fn2 (Compl. ¶ 20 at p.4). Plaintiff alleges that the prosecutions are undertaken to "exact continuing duress, anxiety, trauma and fear."

Plaintiff claims that defendant Syracuse City Court Judge Stephen Dougherty and "months later," Judge Kevin Young, signed arrest warrants "purportedly for FTA"*fn3 in violation of plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. (Compl. ¶ 22).*fn4 The first incident of which plaintiff complains occurred on April 11, 2006. Id. Plaintiff complains that she was held overnight after the first warrant was issued. Id. Other than stating that the second warrant was signed "months later," plaintiff does not give a date for the issuance of the second warrant, which she states was defective because it was "facially insufficient." Id. At the end of this paragraph of the complaint, plaintiff requests "Federal intervention." Id.

Plaintiff has attached a variety of exhibits, consisting of papers and/or motions that plaintiff filed in state courts or letters of complaint sent to state court judges. (Compl. at pp.9-33, Ex. A-O).*fn5 Without reciting the contents of each exhibit, this court notes that Exhibit A is entitled "Writ of Prohibition," and is a document that plaintiff filed in Syracuse Criminal Court, informing the judges that, although plaintiff was informed that an arrest warrant had been issued, she sought a "stay of proceedings" because of her pending federal actions and her pending letter to the Honorable Dennis Jacobs of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. (Compl. Ex. A). This Writ of Prohibition, dated February 22, 2010, also complains about incidents ranging from "false imprisonment" in 2002 and the "false imprisonment" in April 2006 to May 2009, when plaintiff alleges that her mother's car was improperly seized from its parking spot at the Bernadine Apartments by the Syracuse Police. Id.

The document that plaintiff filed in this court on May 18, 2010 consists of the first page of her complaint with two additional defendants and a recitation of events that began on May 11, 2010, when plaintiff was apparently held in custody for three days as the result of a bench warrant that was issued against her in October 2008 for failure to appear on a Posting Ordinance violation.*fn6 (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 3-35). Plaintiff was informed in February 2010 that a warrant had been issued from Syracuse City Court for failure to appear on the 2008 ordinance violation. In response to the notice, plaintiff sent the above-referenced "Writ of Prohibition" to the Syracuse City Court.*fn7

In this Writ, plaintiff stated that she was aware of the arrest warrant, but sought a "stay of proceedings" apparently because plaintiff thought once a federal action was filed, the state court "is enjoined." Id.

In response to plaintiff's papers, she received a letter from City Court Judge James Cecile, dated February 25, 2010, stating that the court issued the bench warrant based on her failure to appear in court on October 31, 2008. (Dkt. No. 3, Ex. B). Judge Cecile acknowledged the receipt of plaintiff's document, referring to it as a motion to stay proceedings, but informed plaintiff that her papers were not in proper form and had not been served on the District Attorney's office. Id. Judge Cecile further informed plaintiff that, because of the deficiencies in her papers, the court "cannot consider the relief that you have requested." Id. The judge then suggested that plaintiff "might want to obtain assistance from an attorney" and that, in the meantime, the bench warrant will remain active." Id.

Plaintiff claims that she went to state court on May 10, 2010 to appear before Syracuse City Court Judge Vanessa Bogan on a "landlord tenant dispute,"*fn8 unrelated to the bench warrant. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 4). Plaintiff states that she went to see Judge Cecile, or any other available judge, about the warrant, but was told to return in the morning because Judge Cecile was not available. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 6). Plaintiff ultimately returned to state court on May 11, 2010, bringing with her one small, and four large briefcases. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 9-10). At that time, plaintiff appeared before Syracuse City Court Judge Karen Uplinger. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 9-11).

Plaintiff claims that after waiting "some time," plaintiff was allowed to approach the bench, but Judge Uplinger did not give plaintiff time to challenge the basis for, or the validity of, the bench warrant. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 11-12). Instead, plaintiff alleges that Judge Uplinger had plaintiff arrested and remanded to custody on $5,000.00 bail that plaintiff could not afford to pay. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 12). Plaintiff states that she attempted to tell court personnel that her briefcases were filled with confidential documents that could not be placed in the custody of the District Attorney's Office, the Syracuse Police Department, or the "OCSD."*fn9 However, everyone she asked refused to tell her what was going to happen to her records. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 14).

After her arrest, plaintiff was placed in a holding cell for the rest of the day, but because she could not make bail, she was placed into the BHU,*fn10 on the psychiatric floor in "Solitary Confinement" for the next three days. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 15-17). Plaintiff alleges that because she had no money, she had to persuade another prisoner to use her identification to call the "Ministry" and speak to someone who agreed to make some telephone calls for plaintiff. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 18-19). Plaintiff used her "one call" on May 11, 2010, to telephone the court to notify the District Judge*fn11 that plaintiff had been taken into custody and feared additional constitutional violations. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 20). Plaintiff claims that during the three days that she was in custody, she endured "psychological torture in subhumane [sic] conditions." (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 21). She was denied her glasses, her paperwork, and was visited only once by a social worker, named Loretta. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 22).

Plaintiff claims that on May 13, 2010, Judge Cecile held a brief hearing and ordered the case to trial on May 14, 2010, "[f]ully aware that [plaintiff] was in solitary confinement [with] no glasses no records, no documents and not prepared." (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 23). Judge Cecile refused to let plaintiff challenge the "alleged" failure to appear. Id. Trial was held on the Posting Ordinance violation on May 14, 2010, and plaintiff alleges that Judge Cecile was hostile and forced plaintiff to attend the trial in handcuffs. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 30-31). Plaintiff claims that she had no time to prepare a defense and was taken directly from solitary confinement to the courtroom. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 31).

Plaintiff describes the testimony of the officer who issued the ticket for the Posting Ordinance violation, but who denied recalling the name of other officers involved in detaining plaintiff. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 32-33). Judge Cecile found plaintiff guilty of the violation and sentenced plaintiff to "time served." (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 34). Plaintiff states that she told the judge she would appeal the trial, her confinement, and the seizure of her personal property. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 34). Plaintiff states she was released later that afternoon. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 35). Plaintiff claims that when she was released, she learned that her property had been seized and placed in the custody of the District Attorney under supervision of the Syracuse City Police for "investigatory purpose[s]." (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 35 & Ex. N).

Plaintiff claims that Judges Cecile and Uplinger violated her rights under the Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶ 36). Unfortunately, after plaintiff completed the factual statement relative to her recent custody, she began discussing incidents occurring in 2006, and refers to two "illegal bench warrants," neither of which is the bench warrant that issued in 2008 for the Posting Ordinance violation. (Dkt. No. 3 at ¶¶ 40-41). Plaintiff states that she seeks a declaratory judgment that no bench warrants shall issue on a "simplified information," without a supporting deposition pursuant to section 100.25 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law. (Dkt. No. 3 at p.12). Plaintiff asks for a federal injunction against City Court and an evidentiary hearing on the 2006 bench warrants, the May 11, 2010 arrest, the three-day custody in BHU, and the seizure of her personal property. Id.

On May 21, 2010, plaintiff filed a "supplement" to her emergency motion, mixing facts regarding her recent custody with her complaints about the 2006 bench warrants and how she was treated at that time. (Dkt. No. 5). Plaintiff essentially requests that this court enjoin the state court from further violations of her constitutional rights by the various defendant state court ...

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