United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Jesse Lee Keel, III, who is proceeding in forma
pauperis in this civil action, has submitted several
documents to this Court. Although unclear, it appears that
Mr. Keel seeks reconsideration of the Court's order
docketed on December 27, 2016 (ECF No. 11), which closed this
case, and that he intends some of the documents he filed to
constitute an amended complaint. For the following reasons,
the Court will grant Mr. Keel's request for
reconsideration for purposes of considering his filing, which
the Court will construe as an amended complaint. However, the
Court will dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Keel filed this case against several defendants, including an
Assistant District Attorney who successfully prosecuted him
for criminal violations in state court. He appears to be
raising a host of claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
In an order dated October 11, 2016 (ECF No. 6), the Court
granted Mr. Keel leave to proceed in forma pauperis
and dismissed his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to state a claim.
order explained that the Court was unsure of the factual
basis for Mr. Keel's claims, in part because he
"relie[d] heavily on exhibits that [did] not clearly
relate to the facts alleged in the complaint." (Oct. 11,
2016 Order at 3.) The order also explained that Mr. Keel
could not challenge his prosecution or convictions in a civil
rights action, that prosecutors have immunity from liability
based on their prosecution of a criminal case, and that
court-appointed counsel are not state actors for purposes of
§ 1983. The Court gave Mr. Keel thirty days to file an
amended complaint and explained that any amended complaint
must "clearly describe how each named defendant was
responsible for violating [Mr. Keel's] rights" and
must not "rely on exhibits or other filings in this
matter to articulate the factual basis for Mr. Keel's
claims." (Id. at 4.)
October 26, 2016 order (ECF No. 8), the Court informed Mr.
Keel that any papers he sought to file on the public docket
would have to be in the form of a motion, petition, or legal
brief, as opposed to a letter. Mr. Keel subsequently filed
numerous exhibits. In an order docketed December 27, 2016
(ECF No. 11), the Court closed this case due to Mr.
Keel's failure to file an amended complaint. The Court
explained that, having reviewed the documents that Mr. Keel
sent to the Court-including a copy of his social security
card, a copy of his driver's license, copies of his bank
account statements, his correspondence with several
administrative agencies, and a copy of the docket for his
criminal proceeding-none of those items responded to the
Court's October 11, 2016 order giving him leave to file
an amended complaint.
Keel returned with a filing in which he asks the Court to
reopen his case, apparently so that the Court can charge the
defendants with federal crimes. (See ECF No. 12.)
The filing also includes a document titled "Amended
Complaint, " in which Mr. Keel appears to be claiming
that his girlfriend, with the assistance of A.D.A. Chung, had
him falsely prosecuted so she could steal his social security
benefits while he was incarcerated. Mr. Keel attached to his
filing copies of his social security card, his birth
certificate, a medical device ID, and letters concerning a
grievance about his medical care. The public dockets for the
criminal cases Mr. Keel references in his filing reflect that
he pled guilty to certain criminal violations, and that those
convictions have not been invalidated. See Commonwealth
v. Keel, Docket Nos. CP-51-CR-0011256-2015 &
CP-51-CR-0011257-2015 (Phila. Ct. of Common Pleas).
Keel also filed a host of papers on which he wrote "as
my complaint." (ECF No. 13.) The filing includes
documents related to Mr. Keel's incarceration, documents
related to Mr. Keel's medical issues, and documents
related to his criminal prosecution, including the docket for
his criminal case. The filing also includes a letter that Mr.
Keel appears to have sent to the state court, in which he
alleges that he has been falsely prosecuted and that his
girlfriend set him up to rob him of government benefits.
Court will construe Mr. Keel's filings as a motion for
reconsideration of the Court's order closing this case,
and an amended complaint. The Court will grant the motion for
reconsideration to consider Mr. Keel's filings, and
dismiss the amended complaint for the reasons discussed
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Keel is proceeding in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) requires the Court to dismiss his
amended complaint if it fails to state a claim. To survive
dismissal for failure to state a claim, the amended complaint
must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quotations omitted). "[M]ere conclusory
statements do not suffice." Id. The Court may
also consider exhibits attached to the complaint. Buck v.
Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir.
2006). As Mr. Keel is proceeding pro se, the Court
construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y
Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
recover damages [or other relief] for allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other
harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a
conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must
prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid
by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or
called into question by a federal court's issuance of a
writ of habeas corpus[.]" Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (footnote and citation omitted);
see also Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82
(2005) ("[A] state prisoner's § 1983 action is
barred (absent prior invalidation)-no matter the relief
sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of
the prisoner's suit (state conduct leading to conviction
or internal prison proceedings)- if success in that action
would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement
or its duration." (emphasis omitted)). Here, it is
apparent that the vast majority of Mr. Keel's claims are
premised on an allegedly wrongful criminal prosecution that
led to his conviction. However, the dockets for his criminal
cases reflect that his convictions have not been overturned
or otherwise invalidated. Accordingly, any claims challenging
those convictions and Mr. Keel's related imprisonment are
not cognizable at this time.
extent Mr. Keel is raising claims that are not barred by the
principle announced in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994), the facts underlying those claims are unclear.
Having reviewed the documents in this case, the Court cannot
discern a clear basis for a plausible claim against any of
the defendants within the Court's jurisdiction.
Furthermore, this Court lacks the authority to direct a
criminal prosecution, to the extent Mr. Keel is asking for
one. See Mikhail v. Kahn,991 F.Supp.2d 596, 636
(E.D. Pa. 2014) ("[I]t is today beyond all reasonable
doubt that the prosecution of violations of federal criminal
law in federal court is a function of the federal government,
not private parties, and ...