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Marc Antwain X. Rivers Muhammad, Sr v. Gerry Lynn Butler

September 28, 2011

MARC ANTWAIN X. RIVERS MUHAMMAD, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
GERRY LYNN BUTLER, VINCENT CAPPELLINI, LUZERNE COUNTY CHILDREN & YOUTH SERVICES, LUZERNE COUNTY
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS ORPHANS COURT, THE SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA, THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA AND JOHN BELLINO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

(JUDGE CAPUTO)

(MAGISTRATE JUDGE SMYSER)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's dismissal of his complaint. Because Muhammad failed to demonstrate new evidence, a change in law, or an error, the motion will be denied. The Court also reviews Plaintiff's Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the complaint will be dismissed.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

The following is a summation of the facts as alleged in Muhammad's amended complaint, stated in the light most favorable to him:

Plaintiff March Antwain X. Rivers Muhammad, Sr. is a black Muslim with a son named Alonzo. In May of 2002, Muhammad was denied all visitation with Alonzo.

Muhammad challenged this visitation order in court. In March of 2006, while Muhammad was incarcerated, Luzerne County Children & Youth Services (LCCYS) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Muhammad in regard to Alonzo. Defendant Vincent Cappellini was appointed as counsel to represent Muhammad during the termination of parental rights proceedings. Defendant John Bellino was appointed as the child's guardian ad litem.

At the hearing, LCCYS caseworker Gerry Lynn Butler testified falsely and withheld documents showing that Muhammad had fully complied with all of LCCYS's requests. In particular, LCCYS falsely represented that Muhammad had not performed any parental duties during his incarceration, had not contributed to the support of Alonzo, had not sent any gifts or cards, and had not complied within the appropriate time period with the court ordered services outlined in his Family Service Plan. That Plan's objectives included drug and alcohol and mental health services, to be provided by the institution in which Muhammad was incarcerated, with a "projected completion date" of May, 2006. Butler received documentation that Muhammad completed alcohol and drug education in March of 2005 and completed a mental health evaluation in November of 2004, but purposely did not bring the records so that she would not have to testify about them. Muhammad had also sent Cappellini copies of these records and requested that Cappellini introduce them as evidence at the hearing, but Cappellini did not. Cappellini also failed to sufficiently cross-examine Butler about the records.

The Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas terminated Muhammad's parental rights. The Common Pleas Court purposely ignored the briefs filed by Muhammad in his own defense. Muhammad appealed the order to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, on the grounds that, among other things, Cappellini provided ineffective assistance of counsel. The Superior Court denied Muhammad's appeal without addressing his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied Muhammad's petition for allowance of appeal.

The actions of Butler, Cappellini, LCCYS, the Common Pleas Court, and the Superior Court all stemmed from a conspiracy between them to deprive Muhammad of his parental rights. The motivation behind this conspiracy was animus against Muhammad's race and a desire to prevent Muhammad from raising his son as a Muslim.

Muhammad now brings claims against the Defendants Butler, Cappellini, LCCYS, the Common Pleas Court, and the Superior Court under 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 1985(2) and 1985(3). He brings claims against the Supreme Court under 42 U.S.C. ...


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