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Wilkins v. Reed

March 6, 2006

GLUE WILKINS, PLAINTIFF
v.
MAYOR STEPHEN REED AND THE HARRISBURG BUREAU OF POLICE, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

This pro se civil rights action was initiated by Glue Wilkins ("Plaintiff") in the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. On February 23, 2006, the Defendants removed the action to this Court.*fn1 In his complaint, Wilkins, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Somerset, Pennsylvania (SCI-Somerset), seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and asserts claims under Pennsylvania state law. For the reasons set forth below, Wilkins' federal claims will be dismissed without prejudice as legally frivolous and his state law claims will be remanded to the Court of Common Pleas.

Named as Defendants are Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed, the Harrisburg Police Department and Officers Tim Carter, Shaun Pugh, Kevin Duffin, Peter Rivera, Leslie Brown and Elijah Massey. It is initially noted that Wilkins has filed prior unsuccessful § 1983 complaints with this Court regarding his 2003 Dauphin County, Pennsylvania attempted homicide conviction.

In his present complaint, Wilkins states that he was arrested on July 17, 2002 and charged with attempted criminal homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, theft of a motor vehicle, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, and possession of an instrument of crime. Plaintiff admits that he was convicted of all charges following a jury trial in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas and sentenced to a twenty-four (24) year term of imprisonment.

Plaintiff claims that his conviction was the result of perjured testimony, an illegal arrest, and evidence tampering. Wilkins adds that his conviction was unconstitutional because he was not given his Miranda warnings and denied due process. The complaint also seeks to establish liability against Mayor Reed under a theory of vicarious liability. His complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as declaratory relief, specifically, a declaration that the Defendants violated his rights.

Discussion

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 complaint --

(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. 1989).*fn2 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 (1992).

It is initially noted that a § 1983 action may not be employed to challenge the fact or duration of confinement or to seek earlier or speedier release. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1975). All of the Plaintiff's present allegations are unquestionably attacking the legality of his Pennsylvania state criminal conviction. Pursuant to the standards announced in Preiser, Wilkins' present complaint to the ...


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