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Baptiste v. Macedonio

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 23, 2017

ANTHONY H. BAPTISTE, #453207, Plaintiff,


          Joan M. Azrack United States District Judge

         On January 11, 2017, incarcerated pro se plaintiff Anthony Baptiste filed a in forma pauperis complaint against his defense attorneys in an underlying state court criminal case, Robert A. Macedonio (“Macedonio”) and George Duncan (“Duncan” and together, “defendants”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) alleging a deprivation of his constitutional rights. The Court grants plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis but, for the reasons that follow, sua sponte dismisses the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii-iii), 1915A(b).

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff's handwritten complaint was submitted on the Court's Section 1983 complaint form with an additional fifteen pages and seeks to challenge the adequacy of the representation provided by his privately retained attorneys during an on-going state court criminal prosecution in Suffolk County Court - Criminal Term under case number 00396B-2016.[2] (Compl. ¶ II and attachments thereto.) Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, that his attorneys did not file motions on his behalf, shared information about the case with plaintiff's parents, and tried to coerce plaintiff to accept a guilty plea. (Id.) As a result, plaintiff claims to have suffered “stress” from being kept “in the dark” about his case. (Id. ¶ II.A.) Plaintiff claims he “was psychologically traumatized and depressed” and seeks to recover a damages award in total sum of $2, 535, 000. (Id. ¶ III.)


         A. In Forma Pauperis Application

         Upon review of plaintiff's declaration in support of the application to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court finds that plaintiff is qualified to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Therefore, plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted.

         B. Standard of Review

         Pro se submissions are afforded wide interpretational latitude and should be held “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam); see also Boddie v. Schnieder, 105 F.3d 857, 860 (2d Cir. 1997). In addition, the court is required to read the plaintiff's pro se complaint liberally and interpret it as raising the strongest arguments it suggests. United States v. Akinrosotu, 637 F.3d 165, 167 (2d Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009).

         The Supreme Court has held that pro se complaints need not even plead specific facts; rather the complainant “need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); cf. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so as to do justice.”). However, a pro se plaintiff must still plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). The plausibility standard requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. at 678. While “‘detailed factual allegations'” are not required, “[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         C. Section 1983

         Section 1983 provides that

[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 “is not itself a source of substantive rights, but a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred by those parts of the United States Constitution and federal statutes that it describes.” Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979); Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999). In order to state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements. First, the conduct challenged must have been “committed by a person acting under color of state law.” Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d 545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994)). Second, “the conduct complained of must have ...

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