United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
HAMLET GARCIA, JR.
BUCKS COUNTY JUSTICE CENTER, et al.
Hamlet Garcia, Jr. filed this civil action against numerous
defendants, essentially based on his arrest and conviction,
and the conditions in which he was imprisoned in Bucks
County. The gist of his complaint is that his rights were
violated in various respects in connection with his four-year
experience with the criminal justice system. For the
following reasons, the Court will grant plaintiff leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his complaint.
Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to file an amended
alleges that a police officer illegally searched his vehicle
in December of 2012, and found cannabis. Plaintiff was
charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana for
personal use in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas.
See Commonwealth v. Garcia, Docket No.
CP-09-CR-0002053-2013 (Bucks Cty. Ct. of Common Pleas). The
criminal docket reflects that on March 4, 2014, plaintiff
pled guilty and was given probation for one year, with the
option to close probation in six months if he paid his costs
and did not receive any misconducts.
appears that plaintiff did not pay his court costs and was
charged with violating probation/parole. According to the
docket, he was found was found guilty of that violation on
March 3, 2016. See Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was
given a choice to either serve ninety days to eleven months
in jail or agree to be placed on probation for one year.
(Compl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff pled guilty to avoid jail time;
he alleges that he signed the plea agreement under
duress. According to the complaint, plaintiff was
again arrested for violating probation/parole on December 1,
2016. It appears from the docket that he was incarcerated and
released on December 21, 2016, after his court costs were
paid in full.
complaint provides details about plaintiffs criminal case and
the conditions in which he was incarcerated. It is not
necessarily clear when the events described occurred in
relation to plaintiffs several arrests, so the Court has done
its best to interpret what happened to plaintiff and when.
to plaintiff, his car was illegally searched and towed, and
he was taken to the 24th District in Philadelphia where he
"was given little food/water, no hygiene supply, toilet
papers, or a bed to sit/lay for the next 14 or so
hours." (Compl. ¶ 19.) That allegation appears to
relate to plaintiffs initial arrest in 2012. The next day,
plaintiff was visited by an individual- presumably a public
defender-who asked if plaintiff was interested in taking a
plea. Plaintiff notes that he was unaware of the charges
against him and did not agree to be represented by the public
arraignment, the prosecutor and a witness made statements
with which plaintiff disagreed. Plaintiff asked the attorney
representing him if he could get a new judge because the
presiding judge was elderly and disabled; the attorney
replied "no." At some point while the criminal
proceeding was pending, plaintiff alleges that he was held
for absconding. He claims that the judge accepted the
prosecutor's recommendation to hold him for trial, and he
was transferred to custody of the Bucks County Department of
custody, plaintiff "requested to be treated with the
same respect and for religious purposes to have the proper
instruments to remain clean throughout [his] stay."
(Compl. ¶ 27.) He alleges that the "majority of
[his] accommodations was in approximately a 15 X 18 feet
'program room' with upwards to (15) inmates residing
at a time -minimal ventilation and little supervision."
(Id. ¶ 28.)
his incarceration, plaintiff fell from the top bunk and
landed on the back of his head. He was sent to the
nurse's office, where he claims to have received
"very little medical attention." (Compl. ¶
32.) However, he also alleges that he was given a pill and
put on medical watch for four days out of concern that he
might have a concussion. Plaintiff contends that medical
watch "consisted of being forced inside a cell 24 hours
of the day with no communication or activity" and notes
that he "was in a daze and spen[t] 75% or almost the day
sleeping" because of the fall and his medication.
(Id. ¶¶ 32-33.)
on medical watch, plaintiff sent a letter to the
administration "stating [his] rights and requirements
during [his] stay as well as complaints about improper
housing, safety, and health codes issues." (Compl.
¶ 34.) The next day, plaintiff was placed on psychiatric
watch, which required him to abide by certain limitations
until he spoke to a doctor about the concerns in his letter.
Two days later, plaintiff spoke with a doctor, who asked if
plaintiff was looking to hurt himself; plaintiff was later
released back to the program room where he was given a top
complaint implies that plaintiff believes he was targeted
because of his knowledge of the law. He alleges that on one
evening, he was awakened by a correctional officer and told
that a Sergeant wanted to see him. The Sergeant allegedly
asked plaintiff about his knowledge of the law and
"'reminded' . . . [him] that recruiting is
against policy." (Compl. ¶ 38.) Plaintiff was then
sent back to his cell.
before plaintiff was scheduled to have a hearing in his case,
he was visited by a public defender named Christina King who
indicated that she would be representing him. She informed
plaintiff that he would be facing ninety days to eleven
months in jail. Plaintiff asked whether he could go home and
she responded in the negative. He then informed Ms. King that
he wanted to represent himself at the hearing. The
allegations concerning Ms. King appear to relate to
plaintiffs most recent arrest and incarceration.
the prosecutor made an opening statement at the hearing,
plaintiff alleged that he signed the earlier plea agreement
under duress. Ms. King, who was present at the hearing,
interrupted plaintiff by informing the judge that plaintiffs
step-father would pay his court costs in full if he were
released that day. The judge agreed to that arrangement and
released plaintiff pending payment. Plaintiff explains that,
as a result of the above events, he has been "prosecuted
for over ...