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London v. County of Ulster

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 9, 2015

WILLIE J. LONDON, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF ULSTER; ULSTER CO. D.A. OFFICE; LAWRENCE BALL, City of Kingston Court Judge; MATTHEW JANKOWSKI, Ulster County D.A. Office; GERARD CAREY, ESQ Defendants.

WILLIE J. LONDON Plaintiff, pro se 2040 Scarbrough Trail East Stone Mountain, GA 30088

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff pro se commenced this action against Defendants County of Ulster, Ulster County District Attorney's Office, Honorable Lawrence Ball, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Jankowski, and attorney Gerard Carey (collectively "Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Dkt. No. 1. Thereafter, Plaintiff made an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. See Dkt. No. 2. Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece granted Plaintiff IFP status but recommended that Plaintiff's entire complaint be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), (iii) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and for naming defendants who are protected by absolute immunity. See Dkt. No. 5. Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's objections to Magistrate Judge Treece's Report Recommendation and Order. See Dkt. No. 6.

II. BACKGROUND

On January 18, 2012, Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident with one other vehicle. See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 1. Police Officers Eckert and Zell were approximately two hundred to three hundred feet from the accident when it occurred, and, therefore, they were on scene quickly. See id. at ¶ 50. Officer Eckert administered a field sobriety test to Plaintiff, and, according to Plaintiff, he passed the test although Officer Eckert advised Plaintiff that he failed. See id. at ¶¶ 55-57. Plaintiff was brought to the hospital for injuries that he sustained in the accident, and he demanded and consented to a blood alcohol test. See id. at ¶¶ 6, 34. One of the two collection tubes of blood were given to Office Eckert, who brought the tube back to the police station. See id. at ¶ 59. The tube of blood was left in Officer Eckert's personal locker for two days and was then sent by mail to the New York State Police crime laboratory, as alleged by Plaintiff. See id. at ¶ 60.

Plaintiff was given a ticket to appear at Kingston City Court on January 26, 2012 for driving while intoxicated and failure to yield the right of way. See id. at ¶¶ 9, 11. On January 19, 2012 - the day after the accident, Plaintiff contacted Parole Officer Sue Ann Lashley to advise her that he had move from the City of Poughkeepsie to an apartment in the City of Kingston, New York, as well as to advise Officer Lashley of his contact with police. See id. at ¶ 12. Officer Lashley was already aware of this information. See id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff appeared before Defendant Judge Ball in Kingston City Court on January 26, 2012 and was remanded to Ulster County Jail with bail set at $5000. See id. at ¶¶ 15-16. While being processed at the jail, Plaintiff was served with a parole violations warrant. See id. at ¶ 16. At a court appearance in April 2012, Plaintiff was assigned counsel, Defendant Gerard Carey, and Plaintiff provided to the Court and his assigned counsel a list of witnesses he wanted subpoenaed for trial. See id. at ¶¶ 21-23. On April 8, 2012, Plaintiff was handed a toxicology report from the New York State Police Mid-Hudson Regional Crime Laboratory that indicated, on the evening of the accident, Plaintiff's ethyl alcohol percent by weight was 0.12. This was also the day that trial was set to start, but Defendant Jankowski served an information charging Plaintiff with a violation of New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1992(2) based upon the laboratory results. See id. at ¶ 25. Plaintiff was arraigned on that information, and bail remained the same on the vehicle and traffic violation. See id. at ¶ 26. However, Plaintiff was also being held without bail on the parole violation warrant. See id. at ¶ 26.

Trial was rescheduled several times but, ultimately commenced on June 6, 2012. See id. at ¶ 26. Plaintiff contends that prior to trial he was not provided with "chemist reports, police reports, Rosario Material, Brady Material, Statements of all the Prosecutor's witnesses to testify at [] trial, as well as affidavits of prosecution witnesses before they took the witness stand" and that his objections at trial were overruled. See id. at ¶ 27. According to Plaintiff, this material was not provided to him until trial had commenced. See id. at ¶¶ 27, 32. Plaintiff claims that throughout the trial Defendants Ball, Jankowski, and Carey "were united [in] trying to convict [Plaintiff]." See id. at ¶ 32. In particular, Plaintiff accuses these Defendants of tampering with evidence, allowing misleading and fraudulent testimony, conspiring to deceive, trick, and hide evidence, among other things. See id. at ¶ 32. Allegedly, Plaintiff's repeated objections to Defendant Jankowski's use of evidence that had not previously been provided to Plaintiff were ignored by Defendant Judge Ball. See id. at ¶ 34.

Plaintiff's contends that, in an effort to prejudice the jury against him, Defendants Judge Ball, Jankowski, and Carey also acted to falsely file an order of protection against Plaintiff preventing his contact with the other driver in the motor vehicle accident, Jacklyn D. North. See id. at ¶¶ 42-44. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Carey joined with Defendants Jankowski and Judge Ball to eliminate all of Plaintiff witnesses "from exposing the perjury, conspiracy to convict [Plaintiff] based upon fabricated testimony and perjury by prosecution witnesses." See id. at ¶¶ 52, 71. Defendant Carey explained at trial that, except for one, he was unable to locate Plaintiff's witnesses. See id. at ¶ 70. The facts are not clear, but it appears that there was a compromise of Plaintiff's blood sample and/or the collection tubes were not ever labeled with Plaintiff's name. See id. at ¶ 36-37. Ultimately, the jury found that Plaintiff was not guilty of driving while intoxicated. See id. at ¶ 79.

Plaintiff returned to the Ulster County Jail on the parole violation warrant, which alleged failure to notify Officer Lashley of police contact, driving while intoxicated, and failure to yield the right of way, but the traffic violations were dismissed from the parole violations. See id. at ¶¶ 80, 92. Plaintiff appeared on the traffic ticket for failure to yield on June 18, 2012, and Defendant Judge Ball found him guilty and imposed a fine. See id. at ¶ 83. Plaintiff appeared before an Administrate Law Judge ("ALJ") for his parole violation hearing on June 25, 2012 requesting a transfer to the State of Georgia to be with his family. See id. at ¶ 91. The ALJ apparently revoked Plaintiff's parole and sentenced him to twelve months with a six-month credit for time served. See id. at ¶ 93. Plaintiff was then transferred from county jail to the state prison system on August 17, 2012. See id. at ¶ 97. In the late Fall of 2012, Plaintiff was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis bacteremia and was hospitalized until January 2013. See id. at ¶¶ 99-100. Plaintiff's parole transfer to the State of Georgia was approved and, upon release from the hospital and prison, he traveled there. See id. at ¶ 102.

Plaintiff contends that Defendants Ball, Jankowski, and Carey were motivated by racial prejudice when they allegedly violated his federal and state constitutional rights. See id. at First through Fourth Causes of Action. According to Plaintiff, Defendants conspired with parole officials, City of Kingston police officers, a New York State Police forensic scientist, a hospital nurse, and Jacklyn North to commit perjury, fraud, harassment, false arrest, unlawful imprisonment, witness tampering, and destruction of evidence. See id. at Fourth Cause of Action. Plaintiff is seeking monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief. See id. at Prayer For Relief.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

When a plaintiff seeks to proceed IFP, "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). In making this determination, "the court has the duty to show liberality towards pro se litigants, " however, "there is a responsibility on the court to determine that a claim has some arguable basis in law before permitting a ...


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