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Marino v. Mook

February 27, 2009

VINCENT MARINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN MOOK, CITY OF PITTSBURGH DETECTIVE, DEFENDANT # D 3510 AND JAMES JOYCE, CITY OF PITTSBURGH DETECTIVE, DEFENDANT # G 3425, DEFENDANTS.



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

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Vincent Marino filed a complaint against City of Pittsburgh Police Detectives John Mook and James Joyce, arising from a brief traffic, investigatory stop on June 26, 2007, the subsequent investigation and ultimately the prosecution of plaintiff for harassment, stalking and terroristic threats. Eventually, plaintiff entered into a plea agreement which resulted in a plea to one count of disorderly conduct and a plea of nolo contendere to another, with the original charges dismissed.

In his amended complaint, plaintiff states the following counts: one, that his Fourth Amendment right was violated in the initial, brief, traffic stop; two, that his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated in the subsequent prosecution; three, he requests the Court to grant him injunctive relief; four, he appears to state a Pennsylvania common law civil conspiracy claim; and five, he alleges a Pennsylvania state law claim for willful misconduct.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, but because documents outside the pleadings were attached, this Court converted said motion to a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d).After careful consideration of the motion for summary judgment, and the briefs in support and in opposition to that motion, this Court will grant summary judgment for the defendants.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The facts are not in dispute. On June 26, 2007, the plaintiff, Vincent Marino, was pulled over by defendants, City of Pittsburgh Police Detectives John Mook and James Joyce. Upon approaching Mr. Marino, Detective Mook told him that one of his brake lights was out and that he was being investigated for an open harassment case. Mr. Marino, after being asked by Detective Mook, and of his own free will, followed the detectives to the police station for questioning with regard to the harassment investigation.*fn1 Plaintiff understood that he was not under arrest and that he could leave at any time. After one and one half hours of questioning, he left on his own volition.

On July 11, 2007, Detective Mook executed a warrant for Marino's arrest, issued as a result of the questioning on June 26, 2007, for three counts each of terroristic threats, 18 Pa.

C.S.A. § 2706, harassment, 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 2709(a), and stalking, 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 2709(b), made to three members of the Opferman family. Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, docket CC 2007 12128. At the scheduled preliminary hearing on July 19, 2007, Mr. Marino was again placed under arrest by the defendants, this time for one count each of terroristic threats, harassment, and stalking made to a Susan Smith. Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, docket CC 2007 12131.

Marino plead guilty pursuant to a counseled plea agreement for one summary offense of disorderly conduct, 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 5503, for the calls placed to the Opfermans. He also entered a plea of nolo contendere for disorderly conduct, pursuant to the same counseled plea agreement, for the calls placed to Susan Smith.

Marino, appearing pro se, brought this action on September 9, 2008. In his amended complaint, he alleged that his Fourth and Fifth, by way of the Fourteenth, Amendment rights were violated, initially by the actions of the detectives beginning with the traffic stop and investigation of harassment and stalking, and ultimately by the criminal prosecution. Of five counts, three allege a violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (hereinafter "section 1983"). His first count alleges that his Fourth Amendment right was violated when he was initially pulled over by the detectives, followed them to the station, and subsequently questioned for one and one half hours about the harassment complaint. His second count alleges that his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated in the subsequent criminal prosecutions. The third count is actually a prayer for injunctive relief, while his fourth count alleges that there was a civil conspiracy to deny him his civil rights. The fifth count involves a violation of Pennsylvania law, and claims that between the time of the initial traffic stop and his eventual plea bargain, defendants engaged in willful misconduct. 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8550.

This Court has examined plaintiff's original and amended complaints, and finds that his related civil rights counts state claims in the nature of malicious prosecution, based upon the detectives' investigatory stop and criminal prosecution for harassment, stalking, and terroristic threats.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (doc. no. 38) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), alleging the Heck bar precluded Marino from recovery. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Because the defendants attached court documents in support of the motion, this Court converted it to a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d), which states "[i]f, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the ...


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