The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anita B. Brody, United States District Judge
On February 25, 1999, the plaintiff Onzie Travis ("Travis") commenced
this action and filed an application to this court to proceed in this
action in forma pauperis. On July 19, 2001 Travis filed an Amended
Supplemental Complaint against: the Honorable Barbara A. Josephs, the
Honorable Arnold L. New, the Honorable Alex Bonavitacola, and the
Honorable Tama Myers-Clark ("the Judicial Defendants"); Assistant
District Attorney Catherine Marshall and Assistant District Attorney
Carmen Lineberger ("the ADA Defendants"); Vivian T. Miller and Susan
Carmody ("the Court Defendants"); Janet Fasy Dowds, Leon O. Dark, and Jay
Pensak ("the Reporter Defendants"); and Gerald M. Alston, the attorney
who represented Travis in his criminal trial. Travis' Amended
Supplemental Complaint claims that the defendants engaged in misconduct
relating to the handling of transcripts from his criminal drug trial in
the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, precluding an effective appeal of
his conviction. Am. Supp. Comp. at ¶¶ 90-102.
Before me are the motions of the defendants to dismiss Travis' pro se
Amended Supplemental Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and (6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 I will dismiss Travis' claims for
money damages against the Judicial Defendants as barred by the doctrine
of absolute judicial immunity. I will dismiss Travis' federal claims
against all of the defendants for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Travis' federal
claims, I decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state
law claims and remand the state law claims to the state court.
In November of 1995, a jury of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
convicted Travis for delivery of a controlled substance. Id. at ¶
11. On December 14, 1995, Travis requested the transcripts of his trial
in the Court of Common Pleas. Id. at ¶ 14. Travis filed a 1925(b)
statement,*fn3 claiming that the jurors in his trial were biased and
that corrective instructions given to the jurors were inadequate to cure
the prejudice because the witnesses involved were all policemen. Id. at
¶ 15. In the same statement, Travis reiterated his request for
transcripts. Id. On December 18, 1995, Travis filed a timely pro se
notice of appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court. On May 15, 1996,
Travis supplemented his 1925(b) statement, reserving the right to raise
further issues after his transcripts were made available to him. Id. at
¶ 16. Shortly thereafter, Travis informed the Superior Court that he
had not received the requested transcripts. Id. at ¶ 17.
Nevertheless, on August 27, 1996 the Superior Court dismissed Travis'
appeal for failure to file a brief. Id. at ¶ 19. The Supreme Court of
Pennsylvania denied allocatur on April 28, 1997. Id. at ¶ 22. On
July 7, 1997, Travis' habeas corpus petition to this court was dismissed
for his failure to exhaust his state remedies.*fn4 Id. at ¶ 23. On
January 26, 1998, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied
Travis' certificate of appealability. Id. at ¶ 24.
On March 17, 1998, Travis filed a pro se petition in the Court of
Common Pleas for relief under the Post Conviction Relief Act, 42 Pa.C.S.
§ 9541 et. seq. ("PCRA"). Id. at ¶ 25. On June 22, 1998, Travis
wrote to Judge Alex Bonavitacola, claiming that the transcripts of his
plea withdrawal and voir dire were being deliberately withheld.*fn5 Id.
at ¶ 27. From July 1, 1998 through June 1999 Travis made repeated
requests for his transcripts to the Judicial Defendants, the ADA
Defendants, the Court Defendants, and the Reporter Defendants. Id.
¶¶ 28-70. On April 13, 1999, the PCRA court reinstated Travis' direct
appeal rights nunc pro tunc.
On June 25, 1999, Travis submitted motions to the Superior Court to
"remand for correction of the certified record, furnish his transcripts,
and defer the briefing schedule." Id. at ¶ 50. On July 20, 1999 the
Superior Court ordered the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide Travis
with copies of the requested documents relevant to his appeal. Id. at
¶ 51. On July 26, 1999, Travis claims that he received partial
transcripts, but that they
had been falsified. Id. at ¶ 52. On July
29, 1999, Travis filed objections with the Superior Court regarding the
alleged inaccuracy of his transcripts. Id. at ¶ 53. On August 20,
1999, Travis filed a motion with the Superior Court requesting that it
enforce its previous order to the Commonwealth to provide Travis with his
remaining transcripts. Id. at ¶ 58.
Travis continued his efforts to obtain his transcripts from August of
1999 through March of 2001. Id. at ¶¶ 59-77. For example, on November
9, 2000, he wrote to the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts
to complain about the defendants' refusal to furnish his transcripts.
Id. at ¶ 72. On February 27, 2001, Travis received a reply from the
Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, informing him that his
transcripts were being reconstructed. Id. at ¶ 77. On March 2,
2001, the Superior Court issued another order directing the trial court
to advise it regarding whether Travis had received his transcripts or
whether they were even available. Id. at ¶ 78.
By order dated March 12, 2001, the Court of Common Pleas of
Philadelphia County determined that while transcripts of the plea
withdrawal proceedings were made available to Travis, the voir dire
transcripts from Travis' trial were not transcribed. (Order of March 12,
2001). On April 3, 2001, the Court of Common Pleas denied the plaintiff's
outstanding motion to correct the record, stating that: "Defendants'
[sic] motion is based upon inconsistencies of the testimony and not upon
any valid claims of deliberate or accidental omission or addition. A fair
reading of the transcript indicates defendants' [sic] arguments are
inconsistent with the entire transcript." (Order of April 3, 2001). In a
footnote, the court added that: "Even if this court found error in the
transcript as alleged by defendant, those errors would not be material to
the outcome of this case or any issues alleged by defendant in his
On January 3, 2002 the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the
judgment of Travis' sentence entered by the trial court. Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania v. Travis, 797 A.2d 377 (Pa.Super. 2002). Among others, the
Superior Court reviewed a number of issues concerning the transcripts
relevant to Travis' appeal. See 797 A.2d at 4-5. The Superior Court
determined that the issues raised by Travis stemming from the
unavailability of the relevant transcripts "are without merit and
Appellant therefore has not been prejudiced by the delay in this matter."
Id. at 7-8. Moreover, the court upheld the trial court's finding that
Travis' objections to the alleged falsifications and inaccuracies in the
transcripts "were not valid" and "would not be material to the outcome of
this case or any issues alleged by the defendant." Id. On July 2, 2002
the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied allocatur. Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania v. Travis, 2002 WL 1426570 (Pa. July 2, 2002).
Travis brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, §
1985(2), (3), and § 1986 on February 25, 1999 and filed his Amended
Supplemental Complaint on July 19, 2001. The crux of Travis' allegations
is that the defendants conspired to violate his constitutional rights by
deliberately denying him access to his transcripts and falsifying the
transcripts, thus precluding effective appellate review of his conviction
for delivery of a controlled substance. More specifically, Travis alleges
that the actions and inactions of the Judicial Defendants, the ADA
Defendants, the Court Defendants, the Reporter Defendants, and Gerald
Alston deprived him of his rights to due process, equal protection,
compulsory process, and access to the courts under the First, Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Am. Supp. Comp.
at ¶¶ 90-102. Based on the
same facts, Travis also advances state
claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious
abuse of process against all of the defendants. Id. In addition, he
alleges false imprisonment against Fasy Dowds and the Court Defendants.
Id. Travis also seeks declaratory relief as well as compensatory and
punitive damages for both the alleged constitutional violations and the
state law tort claims. Am. Supp. Comp. at 15-17.
A. Absolute Immunity for the Judicial ...