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Carlos Peterson v. New York State Court of Appeals

December 27, 2012

CARLOS PETERSON PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK STATE COURT OF APPEALS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Christian F. Hummel U.S. Magistrate Judge

REPORT-RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER

I. Background

Presently before this Court is an application to proceed in forma pauperis and a civil rights complaint filed by Carlos Peterson ("Peterson"). Peterson has not paid any fee relating to this action. Dkt. Nos. 1 & 2.

Peterson brings this action regarding his filing of various appeals in the New York Court of Appeals. Compl. (Dkt. No. 1). Liberally construing Peterson complaint, it alleges that the defendant New York Court of Appeals has intentionally lost Peterson's appellate filings in furtherance of a conspiracy to prevent him from exercising his constitutional rights. Id. Specifically, Peterson states that the cases which he previously appealed are no longer on file with the Court of Appeals and their whereabouts are now unknown. Id.

II. Initial Screening

The Court has reviewed Peterson's informapauperisapplication. See Dkt. No. 2. Because Peterson sets forth sufficient economic need, the Court finds that Peterson qualifies to proceed informapauperis.

Having found that Peterson meets the financial criteria for commencing this case in formapauperis, the Court must now consider the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the complaint in light of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A. Section 1915(e) of Title 28 of the United States Code directs that, when a plaintiff seeks to proceed informapauperis, "(2) . . . the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that -- . . . (B) the action . . . (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). Thus, even if a plaintiff meets the financial criteria to commence an action in formapauperis, it is this Court's responsibility to determine whether the plaintiff may properly maintain the complaint that he filed in this District before the court may permit the plaintiff to proceed with this action informapauperis. See id.

Likewise, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a court must review any "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity" and must "identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint . . . is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or . . . seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (Section 1915A applies to all actions brought by prisoners against government officials even when plaintiff paid the filing fee); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) (stating that both sections 1915 and 1915A are available to evaluate prisoner prosecomplaints).

A. Defendant New York Court of Appeals

Peterson's complaint names the New York State Court of Appeals as the defendant. However, naming such a defendant fails for multiple reasons.

1. Eleventh Amendment

The Eleventh Amendment provides that "[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. Const. amend. XI. "[D]espite the limited terms of the Eleventh Amendment, a federal court [cannot] entertain a suit brought by a citizen against his [or her] own State." Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98 (1984) (citing Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 21 (1890)). Regardless of the nature of the relief sought, in the absence of the State's consent or waiver of immunity, a suit against the State or one of its agencies or departments is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment. Halderman, 465 U.S. at 100. "New York State has not consented to suit in federal court." Abrahams v. Appellate Div. of Supreme Court, 473 F. Supp. 2d 550, 556 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (citing Trotman v. Palisades Interstate Parke Comm'n, 557 F.2d 35, 38-40 (2d. Cir. 1977). Section 1983 claims do not abrogate the Eleventh Amendment immunity of the states. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 340-41 (1979).

Peterson has explicitly named the New York State Court of Appeals as the sole defendant. However, "[a] suit against a state court . . . is considered to be a suit against the state, and is therefore also prohibited by the Eleventh Amendment." Abrahams, 473 F. Supp. 2d at 556 (citing Mathis v. Clerk of First Dept., Appellate Div., 631 F. Supp. 232, 234-35 (S.D.N.Y. 1986)). Accordingly, defendant New York ...


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