The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD CONABOY, Senior District Judge
Ernest Sanders initiated this pro se civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 2, 2005. Since the
required filing fee has been paid, Plaintiff's request for leave
to proceed in forma pauperis will be denied as moot. For
the reasons set forth below, Sanders' complaint will be
dismissed, without prejudice, as legally frivolous pursuant to
the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Named as Defendants are the Susquehanna County Jail, Montrose,
Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Police and Susquehanna
County. Plaintiff generally states that "they have falsely
imprisoned me 3 times so far." Doc. 1, ¶ 3. Attached to the
complaint is a copy of criminal complaint (CR. 31-04) filed
against the Plaintiff in 2004. Sanders has also submitted a copy
of a letter wherein he alleges that Susquehanna officials have
subjected him to harassment over the past four (4) years. His letter indicates that on one occasion he was jailed for ninety
(90) days on charges which were eventually dropped. Next, Sanders
asserts that he was incarcerated for approximately ten (10)
months until he was acquitted following a jury trial. Plaintiff
adds that he is presently facing criminal charges (CR. 31-04)
which are also allegedly baseless. His complaint also claims that
his court appointed public defender has been providing him with
ineffective assistance and is insisting that he enter a guilty
plea to CR. 31-04. As relief, Sanders seeks "a serious
investigation into this county and there [sic] officials." Id.
at ¶ 4.
As previously noted, Plaintiff has paid the required filing
fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A provides in pertinent part:
(a) Screening. The court shall review . . . a
complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for dismissal. On review, the court
shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
A district court may determine that process should not be
issued if the complaint is malicious, presents an indisputably
meritless legal theory, or is predicated on clearly baseless
factual contentions. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319
, 327-28 (1989); Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772
, 774 (3d Cir.
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
added that "the plain meaning of `frivolous' authorizes the
dismissal of in forma pauperis claims that . . . are of
little or no weight, value, or importance, not worthy of serious
consideration, or trivial." Deutsch v. United States,
67 F.3d 1080
, 1083 (3d Cir. 1995). "The frivolousness determination is a
discretionary one," and trial courts "are in the best position"
to determine when an indigent litigant's complaint is appropriate
for summary dismissal. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33
A plaintiff, in order to state a viable civil rights claim
under § 1983, must plead two essential elements: (1) that the
conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under
color of state law, and (2) that said conduct deprived the
plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States. Groman v. Township of
Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995); Shaw by Strain v.
Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135, 1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).
Pennsylvania State Police
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a § 1983 action
brought against a "State and its Board of Corrections is barred
by the Eleventh Amendment unless [the State] has consented to the filing of such a suit." Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781,
782 (1978). The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
likewise concluded that the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and
Parole could not be sued because "it is not a `person' within the
meaning of Section 1983." Thompson v. Burke, 556 F.2d 231, 232
(3d Cir. 1977).
In Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58
(1989), the Supreme Court reiterated its position that state
agencies are not "persons" subject to liability in § 1983 actions
brought in federal court. The Court noted that a § 1983 suit
against a state official's office was "no different from a suit
against the State itself." Id. at 71. "Will establishes that
the State and arms of the State, which have traditionally enjoyed
Eleventh Amendment immunity, are not subject to suit under § 1983
in either federal or state court." Howlett v. Rose,
496 U.S. 356, 365 (1990). See also Bolden v. Southeastern
Pennsylvania Transp. Auth., 953 F.2d 807, 818 (3d Cir. 1991).
It is clear that under Will and Bolden, the Pennsylvania
State Police is not a "person" for the purpose of § 1983 and,
therefore, not a properly named defendant.
A prison or correctional facility is also not a person within
the meaning of § 1983. See Fischer v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991,
992 (3d Cir. 1973); Philogene v. Adams County Prison, Civ. No.
97-0043, slip op. at p. 4 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 30, 1997) (Rambo, C.J.);
Sponsler v. Berks County Prison, Civ. A. 95-1136, 1995 WL
92370, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 28, 1995). Pursuant to the above standards, the
Susquehanna County Jail is likewise not a ...