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Durham v. City and County of Erie

March 16, 2006

WARREN DURHAM, JR. PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY AND COUNTY OF ERIE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: District Judge McLaughlin

Magistrate Judge Baxter

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Procedural History

Plaintiff's complaint was received by the Clerk of Court on October 6, 2004, and was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter for report and recommendation in accordance with the Magistrates Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Rules 72.1.3 and 72.1.4 of the Local Rules for Magistrates.

Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by Defendants. Named as Defendants in this case are: the City of Erie, Pennsylvania, the County of Erie, Pennsylvania, Christopher McElynn, an Assitant District Attorney, Bruce Tackett, a forensic scientist, Officers Patrick Durkin and James Washburn of the Erie City Police and Judge Fred Anthony. Plaintiff claims that Defendant County of Erie failed to train or supervise its police officers and allowed an unreasonable search by them and that Defendant McElynn violated his constitutional right by concealing exculpatory evidence, introducing fasle evidence, obtaining false statements, selecting a biased jury, and making defamatory statements. Plaintiff also makes a state law claim of malicious prosecution against Defendant McElynn.*fn1 As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

By Report and Recommendation filed November 30, 2005, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants McElynn and County of Erie be granted. The Report and Recommendation concluded that: 1) Defendant McElynn was entitled to absolute immunity as a prosecutor and 2) that Defendant County of Erie should be dismissed because it is protected by sovereign immunity and the County does not have any supervisory authority over the City's police officers. The Magistrate Judge further opined that this Court should not exercise its discretion to retain supplemental jurisdiction over the state tort claim of malicious prosecution. Document # 22.

Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation. In his Objections, Plaintiff argues the Defendant McElynn is not absolutely immune under Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259 (1993). Plaintiff further argues that Defendant County of Erie engaged in a policy of failing to supervise or train its police officers and is therefore liable. Document # 23. Defendants have filed a response to the Plaintiff's Objections. Document # 25.

De Novo Review

1. Prosecutorial Immunity

In his complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations against Defendant McElynn:

26. Defendant, Christopher McElynn, acted indifferent to Plaintiff's constitutional rights when allowing the prosecutrix in his criminal case to extort monies from Plaintiff's family. That said malicious action was ignored to assure favorable testimony against Plaintiff.

27. Defendant, McElynn, did cause the Plaintiff to be maliciously prosecuted when concealing and/or destroying exculpatory evidence.

28. Defendant, McElynn, violated Plaintiff's right to a fair trial when obtaining false statements from Defendants, Tackett, Washburn and Durkin.

29. Defendant McElynn, did violate Plaintiff's right to a fair trial when selecting a biased jury, despite an affirmative ...


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