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Murphy v. Gibbons

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 29, 2014

VERNON MURPHY, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS GIBBONS et al., Defendants.

Office of Vincent U. Uba, VINCENT U. UBA, ESQ., Albany, NY, for the Plaintiff.

HON. JOHN JOSEPH REILLY, City of Albany Corporation Counsel, JOHN JOSEPH REILLY, Corporation Counsel, ERIC P. SUGAR Assistant Corporation Counsel, Albany, NY, for the defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Vernon Murphy commenced this action against defendants Thomas Gibbons, City of Albany Police Sergeant, Brian Mascaro, City of Albany Police Officer, and unnamed John Does pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a host of violations of federal and state law. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.)[1] Pending is defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. No. 12.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. Background

A. Facts[2]

On November 19, 2012, Murphy provided Scott Juarez, his neighbor's boyfriend, a ride to a house where Juarez had been working so that he could retrieve "some items." (Compl. ¶¶ 1-2.) Murphy took Juarez to the work site, located on Lark Street in the City of Albany; at no point did Murphy enter the residence, but he approached the back gate and "hollered" for Juarez to "hurry up." ( Id. ¶¶ 3-5.) About ten minutes after Murphy and Juarez left the Lark Street house, they were "apprehended" by City of Albany police officers while driving; the two were thereafter taken to the police station. ( Id. ¶ 6.)

Murphy was handcuffed, and returned to the area where he had originally taken Juarez so that he could be identified "by the neighbors." ( Id. ¶ 7.) Upon his return to the police station, officers asked Murphy to sign a document, to which he responded that "he would need to contact his lawyer before signing anything." ( Id. ¶ 8.) Police permitted Murphy to call his attorney, Vincent Uba, who also represents Murphy here, [3] and, after the call, Gibbons told Murphy that he was "free to go [because] we don't have evidence of any wrongdoing on your part.'" ( Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) Uba met Murphy outside of the police station where the two discussed the fact that Murphy could not afford to pay the impound fee for the return of his vehicle; Uba thereafter unsuccessfully requested that Gibbons waive the impound fee. ( Id. ¶¶ 11-13.)

Later the same day, after he scrounged up the money needed for release of his impounded vehicle and he retrieved the same, Murphy realized that the police still had his driver's license and vehicle registration, which prompted his return to the police station to request the return of those items. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Upon his return to the station, Murphy was told by Gibbons: "Your lawyer just left here, and he pissed me off, now I am going to arrest you, turn around and put your hands behind your back.'" ( Id. ¶ 15.) Gibbons ordered Officer Mascaro to handcuff Murphy, and did not contact Uba to inform him of the arrest despite Gibbons' knowledge that Murphy had retained Uba by virtue of their interaction earlier in the day. ( Id. ¶¶ 15-16) Murphy's several requests to call or contact Uba were refused by officers. ( Id. ¶¶ 17-18, 23.) Murphy was also denied access to his counsel at arraignment and a bail hearing, where, instead of retained counsel, he was provided only with "assigned counsel from the Conflict Defender's Office"; defendants also ordered Murphy to be silent during those proceedings. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-20, 28-29.) During his detention at the Albany County Jail, Murphy was denied his medication and told by an unidentified Doe defendant to "pray to [his] God, Allah to give [him his] medicine.'" ( Id. ¶¶ 25-26.) On July 31, 2013, all of the charges against Murphy were dismissed. ( Id. ¶ 31.)

B. Procedural History

Murphy filed this suit on November 18, 2013. ( See generally id. ) Murphy's complaint purports to set forth eight causes of action. ( Id. at 7-9.) As best as the court can discern, Murphy alleges the following claims, all under the banner of 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1) denial of the right to counsel in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) denial of the indelible right to counsel in violation of the New York State Constitution; (3) denial of the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and/or the laws of New York in relation to his arrest and detention; (4) denial of the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and/or New York law in relation to the seizure and retention of his vehicle, driver's license, and vehicle registration "without due process and without probable cause"; (5) a violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and/or New York law in relation to his confinement and detention; (6) a violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and/or New York law for "maliciously instituting criminal proceedings"; (7) denial of the right to free exercise of religion in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and/or New York law; and (8) a violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and/or New York law in relation to "an overly suggestive show-up identification." ( Id. ) Murphy has not pleaded any separate causes of action rooted in state law. Following joinder of issue, (Dkt. No. 10), but at some time prior to the conclusion of discovery, defendants moved to dismiss Murphy's pleading, relying on certain evidence outside of the pleadings, (Dkt. No. 12).

III. Standard of Review

"The standard for addressing a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is the same as that for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim." Wright v. Monroe Cmty. Hosp., 493 F.Appx. 233, 234 (2d Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). For a full discussion of that standard, the court refers the parties to its prior decision in Ellis v. Cohen & Slamowitz, LLP, 701 F.Supp.2d 215, 218 (N.D.N.Y. 2010).

IV. Discussion

As an initial matter, the court notes that defendants' arguments rely upon the notion that the court may go beyond the pleadings in deciding their motion and consider a host of documents from the underlying criminal investigation and prosecution, (Dkt. No. 12, Attach. 10 at 4; Dkt. No. 12, Attachs. 5-9)-a perception that is largely unchallenged by Murphy, who similarly relies upon some of the same documents, and others addressed below. Defendants correctly contend that the court may look to matters of public record when considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. No. 12, Attach. 10 at 4); see Byrd v. City of N.Y., No. 04-1396-CV, 2005 WL 1349876, at *1 (2d Cir. June 8, 2005) (citing Blue Tree Hotels Inv. (Can.), Ltd. v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., 369 F.3d 212, 217 (2d Cir. 2004)); Pacherille v. Burns, No. 3:13-cv-789, 2014 WL 3040420, at *1 n.3 (N.D.N.Y. July 3, 2014). "A court may take judicial notice of a document filed in another court not for the truth of the matters asserted in the other litigation, but rather to establish the fact of such litigation and related filings.'" Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Rotches Pork Packers, Inc., 969 F.2d 1384, 1388 (2d Cir. 1992) (quoting Kramer v. Time Warner Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 774 (2d Cir. 1991)). Similarly, decisions of other courts may be judicially noticed. See Pacherille, 2014 WL 3040420, at *1 n.3. In accordance with the foregoing, the court takes judicial notice of the following: the order of Albany County Court entered ...


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