United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Austin McHugh United States District Judge
an action by pro se plaintiff J.C. alleging various
constitutional violations by Philadelphia Probation Officers
Nicholas Ford, Steffen Boyd, Josette Springer, Shonda
Williams, John W. Harrison, E. Martinez, Steven Austin,
Darlene Miller, and Charles Hoyt. I previously dismissed
J.C.'s claims against Defendants. On appeal, the Third
Circuit upheld dismissal against Defendants in their official
capacities, but remanded for consideration of whether
Plaintiff raised a claim against Defendants as individuals.
has stated no facts that suggest constitutional violations by
Defendants Boyd, Springer, Williams, Harrison, Martinez,
Austin, Miller, and Hoyt. Claims against these defendants
will be dismissed. However, I will seek transfer of
Plaintiff's remaining claims against Nicholas Ford to
District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter, as Plaintiff has a case
pending before her in which he makes many of the same
allegations against Mr. Ford that he makes in this case.
See Collura v. Ford et al, Civ. No. 13-4066 (E.D.
Pa. filed July 11, 2013).
J.C.'s claims against all other Defendants except Mr.
Ford are dismissed.
Plaintiff's Claims Against Defendant Harrison.
only allegations about Defendant Harrison stem from two
comments that Harrison made at Plaintiff's probation
hearing on September 6, 2013. Neither comment was improper or
violative of Plaintiff's rights.
first comment was a request to the judge to wait for the
arrival of Plaintiff's lawyer. When Plaintiff's case
was first called that day, his attorney had not yet arrived
in the courtroom. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Harrison
then said to the judge, “Oh he's not going on
without an attorney.” Compl. at 11. Plaintiff appears
to believe that Harrison's comment was an attempt
“to have Plaintiff sanctioned/penalized because he
simply wanted to wait until his legal representation
arrived.” Id. To the contrary, the plain
language of Harrison's alleged statement suggests that it
was an attempt to help Plaintiff - to ensure that the court
did not proceed until his attorney arrived. This comment did
not violate any of Plaintiff's rights.
second comment was a statement to the judge that Plaintiff
had “sued his p/o, he sued the supervisor, he sued the
supervisor's supervisor.” Id. Plaintiff
characterizes this statement as “referencing the
lawsuit in which exactly that happen” [sic], but
describes it as “Direct penalization of First Amendment
rights. This protected activity should never have been
mentioned like the above, let alone to a robeowner in a
probation hearing.” Id. Plaintiff appears to
misunderstand the scope of his First Amendment rights.
Plaintiff's former lawsuits are matters of public record,
and it was not improper for Harrison to mention them at a
probation hearing - or for the judge at that hearing to
consider them in assessing the rehabilitative effectiveness
of Plaintiff's probation. Plaintiff has not established
that any violation of his rights occurred on September 6,
2013. As these two comments are Plaintiff's only mentions
of Harrison in his complaint, Plaintiff's case against
Harrison will be dismissed.
Plaintiff's Claims Against Defendants Boyd, Austin,
Martinez, Springer, and Williams.
claims against Boyd, Austin, Martinez, Williams, and Springer
derive from a disagreement between Plaintiff and Defendants
about Plaintiff's refusal to provide the Probation
Department with a current emergency telephone number.
Plaintiff states that Defendants Boyd, Austin, and Martinez
demanded that he provide them with a working phone number and
were “abrasive and aggressive, ” and
“confrontational.” Compl. at 16. Plaintiff
refused to give the officers a working phone number, so they
referred him to their supervisors, Defendants Springer and
Williams. Springer and Williams reiterated that Plaintiff
must provide an updated emergency contact number, and
allegedly told Plaintiff he would go to prison if he did not
comply with this order. Id. Plaintiff eventually
gave the officers his attorney's phone number and left
the probation office.
are Plaintiff's only allegations against Boyd, Austin,
Martinez, Springer, and Williams. A demand that a probationer
provide a working telephone number to the probation
department does not violate his constitutional rights.
Moreover, though the officers did not detain Plaintiff, it is
clear that a judge could have and undoubtedly would have
ordered them to do so based upon his unreasonable refusal to
provide them with basic contact information. Plaintiff's
claims against Boyd, Austin, Martinez, Springer, and Williams
do not describe unconstitutional or illegal conduct. They
will be dismissed.
Plaintiff's Claims Against Defendants Miller and
alleges that Defendants Miller and Hoyt supervised Defendants
Ford and Boyd. This is the only mention Plaintiff makes of
Miller and Hoyt in his Complaint. Compl. at 22. Mere
supervision of other officers - even when those officers
violated a plaintiff's constitutional rights - does not
expose an individual to § 1983 liability. See
Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 128-29 (3d
Cir. 2010). J.C. has neither pled specific facts about
supervisors' interactions with Ford nor alleged that the
supervisors were engaged in specific conduct directed at him.
Plaintiff has thus not pled a constitutional claim against
Defendants Miller and Hoyt. His claims against them will be
Transfer of J.C.'s claims against Mr. ...