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Schnitter v. City of Rochester

United States District Court, W.D. New York

March 5, 2013

JAMES SCHNITTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ROCHESTER, INVESTIGATOR IACUTONE, SERGEANT DE BELLIS, MONROE COUNTY, MICHAEL GREEN, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY GRACE CARDUCCI, Defendants

Page 470

For James Schnitter, Plaintiff: Christina A. Agola, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brighton, NY.

For City of Rochester, Defendant: Spencer L. Ash, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Department, Rochester, NY.

For Monroe County, Michael Green, Grace Carducci, Assistant District Attorney, Defendants: Howard A. Stark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Monroe County Department of Law, Rochester, NY.

OPINION

DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.

Page 471

DECISION AND ORDER

Plaintiff James Schnitter brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the

Page 472

City of Rochester, New York (" City" ), Rochester Police Department (" RPD" ) Investigator Albert Iacutone, RPD Sergeant Anthony DeBellis (collectively " City defendants" ), Monroe County, former Monroe County District Attorney (" DA" ) Michael Green, and Assistant District Attorney (" ADA" ) Grace Carducci (collectively " County defendants" ).

Plaintiff's claims arise out of his 2007 arrest and prosecution on charges of first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. Those charges were based on a complaint made by plaintiff's estranged wife, concerning an incident that she alleged had occurred in December 2006, in which plaintiff allegedly engaged in sexual contact with his then-three-year-old daughter.

Plaintiff was indicted on those charges in February 2007. At some point, he moved to dismiss the indictment, apparently based on exculpatory evidence that had been turned over by ADA Carducci in September 2007. Complaint ¶ 38, 41. The state court granted the motion in January 2008. Complaint ¶ 46.

Plaintiff commenced this action in January 2011. He asserts claims for (1) malicious prosecution, false arrest and false imprisonment, (2) " 14th Amendment deprivation of liberty without due process of law by withholding material exculpatory and impeachment evidence, and deliberately failing to conduct a constitutionally adequate investigation," and (3) supervisory liability against Green. Plaintiff seeks damages in an unspecified amount.

In support of his claims, plaintiff alleges that Carducci and Iacutone simply relied unquestioningly on the allegations made by plaintiff's wife, and failed to take steps to attempt to verify her accusations. Plaintiff contends that they had a duty to do so because his wife's credibility was undermined by her history of psychiatric problems, her evident hostility toward plaintiff, the inconsistencies in her allegations, and the lack of corroboration of her allegations from both a physical examination and an interview of plaintiff's daughter, the alleged victim.

Plaintiff further alleges that the indictment against him " was the product of fraud, perjury, and misrepresentation." Complaint ¶ 35. While the complaint does not say so expressly, plaintiff is apparently alluding to his wife's false accusations. Plaintiff does not appear to allege that defendants themselves made any perjurious or fraudulent statements in connection with the indictment itself.[1]

The complaint also alleges that Carducci failed to turn over exculpatory material to plaintiff, as required by Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). Plaintiff alleges that his then-attorney eventually obtained, by means of subpoena, certain documentary evidence, including his wife's ...


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