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Maphorisa v. Delaney

November 1, 2010

TSHEPO MAPHORISA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN P. DELANEY, WARDEN, CURRAN-FROMHOLD CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DuBOIS, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

In this case, pro se plaintiff Tshepo Maphorisa ("Maphorisa") seeks to recover damages from defendant John P. Delaney ("Delaney"), warden of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF") in Philadelphia, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for periods of incarceration at CFCF that Maphorisa claims were unlawful. For the reasons that follow, the Court dismisses Maphorisa's claim as legally frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(I).

II. BACKGROUND

Maphorisa initiated this action in the Middle District of Pennsylvania on April 24, 2009.

The case was transferred to this Court as the proper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) on June 11, 2009 (Doc. No. 1), and the Court subsequently granted Maphorisa's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 2, filed June 23, 2009.)

The gravamen of Maphorisa's complaint -- as supplemented later by what he termed a "Traverse Motion" (Doc. No. 13, filed May 13, 2010) -- is that he was held at CFCF for five separate periods totaling more than 80 days between March 2009 and March 2010, despite having made bail on his local criminal charges, while waiting to be transferred from local custody to the custody of federal immigration authorities. (See Compl. at 3; Traverse Mot. at 4.) Maphorisa asserts that Delaney lacked authority to detain him for more than 48 hours during each of these periods because of a federal regulation, 8 C.F.R. § 287.7(d), that limits the time local authorities can detain an alien at the request of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") when DHS is attempting to arrest the alien. (Traverse Mot. at 1.)

Delaney countered on June 25, 2010 with a report addressing Maphorisa's allegations. (Doc. No. 20.) In his report, Delaney asserts that at the time of each disputed period of incarceration, Maphorisa already was permanently detained by immigration officials, who would "effectively loan him out to Philadelphia County for his local matters that were still pending." (Def.'s Rep. at 2; see also id. at Exs. A-F.) Thus, Delaney argues, § 287.7(d) is inapplicable.

Maphorisa responded to Delaney's report on October 8, 2010. (Document No. 30.) In his response, Maphorisa does not deny any of the factual material in Delaney's report but instead reiterates the argument that his detention was unlawful under § 287.7(d). Maphorisa filed his response from Botswana, where he has continued to pursue his claim after his removal earlier this year from the United States.

III. Legal Standards -- 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915

Though never specifically labeled as such, Maphorisa claims a violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 of his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights through unlawful incarceration. Section 1983 provides, in part, that:

Every person, who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of a State or Territory . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law . . . .

This statute does not create substantive rights; rather, it provides a remedy for violations of rights established elsewhere. City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 816 (1985); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996).

To obtain damages from a prison official on a claim that he was incarcerated illegally, a plaintiff must prove unlawful ...


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