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Heyliger v. Collins

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 10, 2014

DEREK A. HEYLIGER, Plaintiff,
v.
J.D. COLLINS, Sergeant; et. al., Defendants.

DEREK A HEYLIGER, Pro Se, Clinton Correctional Facility, Dannemora, NY, for Plaintiff.

PATRICIA A. CUMMINGS, ESQ., LEONARD & CUMMINGS, LLP, Binghamton, NY, BRIAN M. SEACHRIST, ESQ., First Ass't Corporation Counsel, HON. KENNETH J. FRANK, City of Binghamton Corp. Counsel, Binghamton, NY, for City of Binghamton Defendants.

ROBERT G. BEHNKE, ESQ., JENNIFER LAUREN KATZ, ESQ., LEIA D. SCHMIDT, ESQ., HON. ROBERT G. BEHNKE, Broome County Attorney, Binghamton, NY, for County of Broome Defendants.

KRISTEN M. QUARESIMO, ESQ., Assistant Attorney General, HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, New York State Attorney General, Albany, NY, PAUL G. FERRARA, ESQ., NICOLE M. MARLOW-JONES, ESQ., COSTELLO, COONEY PLLC, Syracuse, NY, THOMAS D. JACKSON, ESQ., JACKSON BERGMAN LLP, Binghamton, NY, JONATHAN B. FELLOWS, ESQ., BOND, SCHOENECK & KING, Syracuse, NY, for Remaining Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

DAVID E. PEEBLES, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Derek A. Heyliger, who is currently a New York State prison inmate, has commenced this action asserting various constitutional and state common law claims against dozens of defendants. Plaintiff's claims arise principally out of his arrest by City of Binghamton police officers on September 12, 2010, and an ensuing criminal prosecution.

Currently pending before the court in connection with this action is a motion brought by the plaintiff to disqualify the law firm of Jackson Bergman LLP from representing several of the defendants named in the complaint, as amended. For the reasons set forth below, that motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff commenced this action on December 1, 2011. Dkt. No. 1. His original complaint was comprised of twenty-eight pages, containing 115 separately numbered paragraphs, and asserted claims against forty-two defendants, including individuals employed by various law enforcement agencies and several entities such as the New York State Police Department, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the City of Binghamton Police Department, and the Broome County Sheriff's Department. See generally id. Among the individual defendants named were Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen and two Assistant Broome County District Attorneys, including Thomas Jackson, Esq. By order issued on December 13, 2011, the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff's claims against District Attorney Mollen and Assistant District Attorney Jackson.

Plaintiff's proposed first amended complaint ("FAC") was subsequently received by the court on January 13, 2012.[1] Dkt. No. 8. That proposed pleading consisted of sixty-seven pages, with 102 separately numbered paragraphs, and named twenty-five defendants - some of whom were previously dismissed from the action with prejudice. Id.

On December 28, 2012, plaintiff moved for leave to file a second amended complaint ("SAC") in the action, consisting of 192 handwritten pages, with 545 separately numbered paragraphs. Dkt. No. 73. Leave to amend was granted on September 25, 2013, and plaintiff's SAC was accepted for filing, except with regard to certain of his claims including, inter alia, those asserted against District Attorney Mollen. Dkt. No. 87. Plaintiff's SAC was entered on the docket by the clerk on October 9, 2013. Dkt. No. 88.

On January 22, 2013, notices of appearance were filed by Thomas D. Jackson, Esq., of the law firm of Jackson Bergman LLP, on behalf of several of the defendants named in plaintiff's SAC, including the Binghamton Press & Sun Newspaper, www.pressconnects.com, Sherman M. Bodner, Calvin J. Stoval, Jodie Riesbeck, Kevin J. Crane, Cindy Jarvis, Jay Keller, and Anthony Rapczynski (collectively "the Binghamton Press defendants").[2] Dkt. Nos. 143-151. Plaintiff objects to Attorney Jackson representing those defendants, and has requested an order from the court disqualifying him and his partner, Benjamin Bergman, Esq., from appearing on behalf of any of the defendants based upon an alleged conflict of interest arising from Attorney Jackson's former position as a prosecuting attorney in connection with criminal charges against Heyliger. See generally Dkt. No. 163.

II. DISCUSSION

Attorney Jackson worked as an Assistant District Attorney ("ADA") in the Broome County District Attorney's Office ("BCDA") from approximately 2002 to 2011. Dkt. No. 166 at 1. On or about May 1, 2011, he started his own private practice with his partner, Benjamin Bergman, Esq., another former Broome County ADA, who left the BCDA at the same time as Jackson. Id. at 1-2. Attorney Jackson ...


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