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Miller v. Bradford

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

July 21, 2014

RICKY MILLER, Plaintiff
v.
KEVIN BRADFORD, et al., Defendants

Caputo, Judge.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Martin C. Carlson, United States Magistrate Judge.

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

The plaintiff, Ricky Miller, is an inmate housed in state prison in New Jersey where he is serving a 20 year prison term that was imposed against him in 2006. (Doc. 1, ¶13.) Miller has now filed a pro se complaint with this Court, which names the current and former District Attorneys of Pike County, an Assistant District Attorney and a Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as defendants. (Id.)

In his complaint, Miller recites that in 2006 he was also charged in Pennsylvania with criminal offenses. (Id., ¶12.) Pursuant to the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, following his sentencing in New Jersey, Miller was brought to Pennsylvania to face these state charges. (Id., ¶¶14-17.) Pre-trial proceedings were then conducted in this case, proceedings which culminated with a nolle prosequi, or dismissal of this case by the state in September 2007. (Id., ¶¶18-23.) Curiously, Miller alleges that he opposed the dismissal of this case, although he does not explain why he resisted this nolle prosequi. (Id.) Miller was then returned to New Jersey to continue service of his sentence in that state in September 2007. (Id., ¶24.)

Years then passed without any further action in this case until five and one-half years after the original nolle prosequi of this case, when Miller alleges that, in September of 2013 he moved to dismiss this state case, which had been dismissed and abandoned by the state many years earlier. This action, like Miller’s earlier decision to oppose the nolle prosequi of his Pennsylvania state case, is not further explained by the plaintiff in his pro se complaint. Another ten months then elapsed before Miller filed this pro se civil complaint against the prosecutors who allegedly brought, and then dismissed, the state case filed against the plaintiff in Pike County some seven years ago. In his complaint, Miller alleged, without further elaboration, that the actions of these defendants violated his Sixth Amendment right to trial, and his Fifth Amendment due process rights. (Id.)

Along with his complaint, Miller has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons set forth below, we will GRANT the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, but recommend that this complaint be dismissed.

II. Discussion

A. Screening of Pro Se In Forma Pauperis Complaints–Standard of Review

This Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary review of pro se complaints brought by plaintiffs given leave to proceed in forma pauperis in cases which seek redress against government officials. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Specifically, the Court must assess whether a pro se complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, since Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a complaint should be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In addition, when reviewing in forma pauperis complaints, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) specifically enjoins us to “dismiss the complaint at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. This statutory text mirrors the language of Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that a complaint should be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

With respect to this benchmark standard for legal sufficiency of a complaint, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has aptly noted the evolving standards governing pleading practice in federal court, stating that:

Standards of pleading have been in the forefront of jurisprudence in recent years. Beginning with the Supreme Court's opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) continuing with our opinion in Phillips [v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 230 (3d Cir. 2008)]and culminating recently with the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal –U.S.–, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) pleading standards have seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading, requiring a p[arty] to plead more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to dismiss.

Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209-10 (3d Cir. 2009).

In considering whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court must accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the complaint are to be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jordan v. Fox Rothschild, O’Brien & Frankel, Inc., 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). However, a court “need not credit a complaint’s bald assertions or legal conclusions when deciding a motion to dismiss.” Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Additionally a court need not “assume that a ... p[arty] can prove facts that the ... p[arty] has not alleged.” Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal. v. California State Council ofCarpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). As the Supreme Court held in Bell AtlanticCorp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), in order to state a valid cause of action a party must provide some factual grounds for relief which ...


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