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Weldon Ingram v. Stephen W. Herrick

January 24, 2011

WELDON INGRAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STEPHEN W. HERRICK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Randolph F. Treece United States Magistrate Judge

REPORT-RECOMMENDATION and ORDER

The Clerk has sent to the Court a civil rights Complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.

§ 1983, and a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (IFP), filed by pro se Plaintiff Weldon Ingram, who is currently incarcerated at Albany County Correctional Facility. Dkt. No. 1, Compl.; Dkt. No. 2, IFP App. In his Complaint, Ingram complains of various constitutional infirmities he perceives have been inflicted upon him during his, apparently ongoing, state criminal prosecution. For a more complete statement of Plaintiff's claims, reference is made to the Complaint and supplemental papers. Dkt. Nos 1, 3, & 4.

I. DISCUSSION

A. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Plaintiff has submitted an In Forma Pauperis Application. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), codified in part at 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b), provides that an inmate who seeks in forma pauperis status is required to pay over a period of time the full amount of the filing fee provided for in 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), which is currently $350.00 for most civil actions. After reviewing Plaintiff's Application, we find that he may properly proceed in forma pauperis.

B. Allegations Contained in the Complaint

Section 1915(e) of Title 28 of the United States Code directs that, when a plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal (i) is 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). Thus, it is a court's responsibility to determine that a plaintiff may properly maintain his complaint before permitting him to proceed further with his action.

Moreover, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a court must, as soon as practicable, sua sponte, review "a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employees of a governmental agency" and must "identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(a) & (b); see also Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam).

Ingram brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which "establishes a cause of action for 'the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." German v. Fed. Home Loan Mortgage Corp., 885 F. Supp. 537, 573 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (quoting Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) & 42 U.S.C. § 1983)); see also Myers v. Wollowitz, 1995 WL 236245, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Apr. 10, 1995) (stating that "§ 1983 is the vehicle by which individuals may seek redress for alleged violations of their constitutional rights").

Though not a model of clarity, Plaintiff's Complaint seems to be focused on the current state prosecution of him for his alleged role in assaulting Defendant Gail Moore. Plaintiff names as Defendants various players in that prosecution, and seems to lodge a litany of complaints as to how the state prosecution is proceeding. From supplemental papers he filed, we glean that this prosecution is, indeed, ongoing, and he has not yet been sentenced. See Dkt. Nos. 3 & 4. The only relief sought by this action is "dismissal of all charges or time serve[d] for all known and unknown charges." Compl. at ¶ 6. Based on what has been presented to the Court thus far, we find that, pursuant to the Younger Abstention Doctrine, we must abstain from adjudicating this matter at this time.

The Younger Abstention Doctrine provides that federal courts generally must abstain from adjudicating federal claims that "'involve or call into question ongoing state proceedings.'" Lomtevas v. Cardozo, 2006 WL 229908, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 31, 2006) (quoting Diamond "D" Constr. Corp. v. McGowan, 282 F.3d 191, 198 (2d Cir. 2002)). Younger abstention is proper when: "(1) there is an ongoing state proceeding; (2) an important state interest is implicated in that proceeding; and (3) the state proceeding affords the federal plaintiff an adequate opportunity for judicial review of the federal constitutional claims." Lomtevas v. Cardozo, 2006 WL 229908, at *4 (quoting Diamond "D" Constr. Corp. v. McGowan, 282 F.3d at 198).

All three of the requirements for Younger abstention are met in the present case. First, there appears to be an ongoing state proceeding in New York State Supreme Court concerning criminal charges against Plaintiff. Second, New York State has a clear interest in overseeing the prosecution of state criminal charges. Third, there is no indication that Plaintiff lacks the opportunity to pursue his claims in New York's ...


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