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White v. James

March 30, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge




Before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's Amended Complaint and Motion for Injunction (doc. no. 13). After careful consideration of plaintiff's Amended Complaint - Class Action (doc. no. 5), Motion for Injunction (doc. no. 4), the motion to dismiss and plaintiff's response in opposition to the motion to dismiss (doc. no. 13), the Court will grant the motion and dismiss this case pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971).

Background and Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this suit by filing a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (doc. no. 1), attaching a complaint that, in addition to two Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Joseph James and Anthony Mariani, and the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") Coordinator for Allegheny County, Rebecca J. Planinsek, named another Judge of that Court and a District Justice in the City of Pittsburgh, several defense attorneys and Allegheny County Assistant Public Defenders who had been appointed to represent him at public expense, the Allegheny County District Attorney and an Assistant District Attorney, raising a host of civil rights and other federal claims, including ADA claims, violations of due process, false arrest and malicious prosecution, conspiracy to deprive plaintiff of his civil rights, and violations of Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Responsibility for attorneys, all apparently stemming from an ongoing criminal prosecution in state court for criminal trespass and simple assault.

The Criminal Charges

According to the City of Pittsburgh police report provided by plaintiff as an Exhibit (doc. no. 6), Pittsburgh police officers were summoned on November 3, 2005, to the Noblestown Road Shop 'N Save, which had reported an altercation between plaintiff and its security officer. The altercation began after plaintiff allegedly used obscenities with Shop 'N Save's pharmacist regarding a prescription that plaintiff believed had been botched, and was asked to leave; when he refused to do so, a security officer arrived to escort him but plaintiff refused to leave, assaulted the officer, and bit the security officer on the hand, leaving visible bite marks, when the security officer took plaintiff down. Plaintiff told the Pittsburgh police officers that he had been assaulted and severely injured by the Shop 'N Save security officer. Plaintiff's Exhibits (doc. no. 6) at 12-15.

Counsel was appointed for plaintiff, who filed, pro se, several ADA requests for accommodations from the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in his criminal prosecution, including: free handicapped parking near the Courthouse; no proceedings before 12:00 PM; breaks in proceedings as needed; comfortable seating; hearing aids or audio feeds; and a "proper jury pool." Plaintiff's Exhibits (doc. no. 6) at 19, 23, 25.

The Federal Court Proceedings

Dissatisfied with his lawyers for not championing his ADA requests, and with the Court of Common Pleas' unsatisfactory responses to his requests for accommodations, and unwilling to provide medical documentation as requested by the Court Administrator, plaintiff commenced this federal court action. This Court was immediately concerned that plaintiff appeared to be trying to derail an ongoing state criminal prosecution by filing the federal court action, but out of an abundance of caution, because the complaint appeared "to allege some form of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act." Thus, this Court ordered plaintiff "to file an amended complaint setting forth with more specificity and clarity: (1) the nature of his alleged disability; (2) what alleged reasonable accommodations were requested and to whom; and (3) what response, if any, plaintiff received from the party to whom he directed any requests. . . . [and to] set forth with more clarity the nature of the proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County." Order on Rule to Show Cause, February 6, 2007 (doc. no. 3).

Plaintiff did so, and in his Amended Complaint, which purports to state a "Class Action," (doc. no. 5) and Motion for Injunction (doc. no. 4), plaintiff requests this Court to enjoin a variety of practices and procedures, by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and its administrators, and by the Allegheny County Public Defenders Office and other lawyers, including (but certainly not limited to) the following primary requests for injunctive relief:

From plaintiff's Amended Complaint: plaintiff requests the defendants to accommodate his disability by providing him handicapped parking, assistance with reaching, elevators, special seating; that the Court of Common Pleas schedule his trials and pretrial proceedings after morning rush hour but before evening rush hour because traffic jams exacerbate his back problems; that Allegheny County provide him with counsel who is "acceptable" to him; that plaintiff be provided free "live feed" transcripts of all court proceedings; that the Court not schedule other proceedings at the same time and date as his are scheduled; that this Court direct the Pennsylvania state courts to order all certified attorneys to be available to represent criminal defendants and be certified in special classes of cases and clients and have an "objective rating"; and that this Court assume disciplinary supervision of the Pennsylvania courts and its attorneys. He also seeks and consequential and punitive damages from various defendants.

From plaintiff's Motion for Injunction: plaintiff requests temporary and permanent injunctive relief, including: temporary injunction of the [then scheduled] February 13, 2006, trial; permanent injunction "that no Trial be held in the underlying State matter and that it be dismissed, with prejudice"; that all "reasonable" accommodations be made (quite candidly, "reasonable accommodations" appears to mean to plaintiff any accommodation request he makes); afternoon proceedings only; "Competent counsel acceptable to the plaintiff"; and an "appropriate Jury Pool, should the underlying State matter proceed to Trial" which should "consist of totally, permanently Most Severely disabled individuals with ...

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