United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
A. MCHUGH, J.
Crystal Deberry, a prisoner at the Northampton County Jail,
brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
against Tonya Younes, a nurse from Prime Care, Alicia G.
Egan, a professional court reporter, Judge Jacqueline
Taschner, and District Attorney Abraham Kassis. She seeks to
proceed in forma pauperis. For the following
reasons, the Court will grant Ms. Deberry leave to proceed
in forma pauperis and dismiss her complaint.
Court understands Ms. Deberry to be alleging that she is
currently incarcerated in connection with a sentence that was
illegally imposed by the Northampton County Court of Common
Pleas. Specifically, she alleges that Judge Tascher found her
"guilty of something [she] did not do" at a
preliminary hearing and that the defendants had no evidence
of her guilt. (Compl. at 4; see Id. at 6-7.) Ms.
Deberry also alleges that Ms. Egan, the court reporter,
"lied with the transcripts" by "put[ting] in
the transcripts that Tonya Younes went to a hospital that
doesn't exist." (Id. at 14.) She further
contends that District Attorney Kassis had no evidence that
Tonya Younes was injured and that Ms. Younes lied when she
testified that Ms. Deberry had assaulted her. (Id.)
A review of public dockets reflects that Ms. Deberry has
charges of simple assault, aggravated assault, and criminal
mischief/intentional, reckless, or negligent damaging of
property pending against her in the Northampton County Court
of Common Pleas. See Commonwealth v. Deberry, Docket
No. CP-48-CR-0001362-2017 (Northampton Cty. Ct. Common
Pleas). In the instant action, Ms. Deberry seeks immediate
release from imprisonment, monetary damages, and "that
all charges be removed." (Compl. at 6.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court grants Ms. Deberry leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that she is not capable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly, 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the
Court to dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a claim.
Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable
to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236,
240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine
whether the complaint contains "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). The Court may also
consider matters of public record. Buck v. Hampton Twp.
Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). As Ms.
Deberry is proceeding pro se, the Court construes
her allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen.,
655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Ms.
Deberry must allege that "the wrongdoers . . . violate
[her] federal rights . . ., and that they did so while acting
under color of state law." Groman v. Twp. of
Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995). Ms. Deberry
first contends that Tonya Younes, the victim in Ms.
Deberry's criminal proceedings, violated Ms.
Deberry's rights by falsely testifying that Ms. Deberry
assaulted her. However, nothing in the complaint suggests
that Ms. Younes is a state actor. Accordingly, Ms.
Deberry's claims against Ms. Younes are subject to
Deberry further alleges that Alicia G. Egan, the court
reporter, violated her rights by transcribing false
testimony. Ms. Deberry contends that Ms. Egan "put in
the transcripts that Tonya Younes went to a hospital that
doesn't exist." As an initial matter, the error of
which plaintiff complains does not seem materiel: where the
victim was taken has little to do with whether an assault
occurred. In that regard, plaintiffs do not have a
constitutional right to a completely error-free transcript.
See Shahin v. Darling, 606 F.Supp.2d 525, 543 (D.
Del. 2009) (citing Tedford v. Hepting, 990 F.2d 745,
747 (3d Cir. 1993); Carpenter v. Vaughn, 296 F.3d
138, 155 (3d Cir. 2002). For an error in a transcript to be
of constitutional significance, it would have to affect the
integrity of the outcome. Moreover, quasi-judicial immunity
applies to court staff, such as court reporters, who are
acting in their official capacities. See Gallas v.
Supreme Ct. of Pennsylvania, 211 F.3d 760, 769 (3d Cir.
2000); see also Martin v. Kline, 105 Fed.Appx. 367,
368 (3d Cir. 2004). Here, it is clear from Ms. Deberry's
complaint that Ms. Egan was acting in her official capacity
as a court reporter. Thus, Ms. Deberry's claims against
Ms. Egan are also subject to dismissal. See Martin,
105 Fed.Appx. at 368 (court reporter entitled to
quasi-judicial immunity in suit regarding alleged mishandling
of court transcript).
respect to Judge Taschner, Ms. Deberry claims that Judge
Taschner found her "guilty" at a preliminary
hearing despite the fact that no evidence of Ms.
Deberry's guilt exists. Essentially, Ms. Deberry believes
that Judge Taschner has violated her constitutional rights by
ruling against her. Ms. Deberry's claims against Judge
Taschner, however, are legally frivolous because absolute
judicial immunity precludes Ms. Deberry from asserting
constitutional claims under § 1983 based on the way the
Judge is handling matters in state court. See Azubuko v.
Royal, 443 F.3d 302, 303-04 (3d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)
(discussing judicial immunity and amendments to § 1983
limiting injunctive relief against a judicial officer).
with respect to District Attorney Kassis, Ms. Deberry
contends that he violated her rights by prosecuting her
despite the fact that he had no evidence of her guilt.
District Attorney Kassis, however, is entitled to absolute
prosecutorial immunity from any claims for monetary damages
based on his involvement in Ms. Deberry's prosecution.
See Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335, 348-49
(2009); Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430-31
foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss Ms. Deberry's
complaint for failure to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Ms. Deberry will not be given leave
to amend because amendment would be futile. See Grayson
v. Mayview State Hosp.,293 F.3d 103, 112-13 (3d ...