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Walker v. ONeill

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 6, 2017

JERRY EUGENE WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
HON. STEVEN T. ONEILL, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          SLOMSKY, J.

         Plaintiff Jerry Eugene Walker, a prisoner incarcerated at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, brings this civil action based on his numerous arrests and prosecutions in Montgomery County as well as the conditions at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court will grant plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his complaint.

         I. FACTS

         Plaintiffs complaint appears to be a collection of at least two complaints combined with several exhibits and grievances that plaintiff submitted as one filing totaling ninety-two pages. Because of the manner in which the complaint has been submitted to the Court, it is difficult for the Court to understand the precise factual basis for plaintiffs claims and who plaintiff intended to name as defendants in this case. Having reviewed plaintiffs submission, the Court understands plaintiff to be raising claims based on several events that can be divided into two general sets. The first set of claims relate to plaintiffs numerous arrests and prosecutions since 2014. The second set of claims relate to plaintiffs recent incarceration at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in 2017.

         A. Claims Related to Plaintiffs Arrests and Prosecutions

         The caption of the document that plaintiff submitted as his complaint identifies the following defendants: (1) Honorable Steven T. O'Neill; (2) Meghan LaCheplle (identified as a parole agent); (3) Michael R. Gordon (identified as "chief); (4) Todd Bergman (identified as "deputy chief); (5) Kathleen Subbio (identified as "deputy chief); (6) Stephanie Landes (identified as "deputy chief); (7) the Honorable Francis Lawrence Jr. (misspelled Fransic); (8) Mark Talbot (identified as "chief of police"); (9) Andrew Bixler (identified as "officer"); (10) Officer Tim William (identified as "Sgt.");and (11) Emrich Raymond E. Jr. (identified as "officer").

         Plaintiff generally alleges that "since being released from state prison in 2014, [he has been] doing nothing but getting arrested every other day and night by the Norristown Police Police [sic] Department and placed in a few of their holding cells for false charges which went on for almost 3 years straight!" The complaint reflects that the basis for many of the arrests was public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Plaintiff alleges that on several occasions, he was forced "to sleep in the cold cells freezing to death!"

         A review of public dockets reflects several criminal actions filed against plaintiff in Montgomery County, where Norristown is located, since 2014. Plaintiff was repeatedly charged with summary offenses, including public drunkenness and driving offenses, during that time period. In some cases he pled guilty and in others he was found not guilty. Magisterial District Judge Francis J. Lawrence Jr. has presided over most of plaintiff s criminal proceedings.

         The complaint specifically references the following criminal proceedings, which the Court presumes provide the primary basis for plaintiffs claims in this lawsuit. In May of 2015, plaintiff was charged with criminal trespass, simple assault, burglary, and public drunkenness and similar misconduct. See Commonwealth v. Walker, Docket No. CP-46-CR-0003959-2015 (Montgomery Cty. Ct. of Common Pleas). On May 20, 2015, Judge Lawrence held a preliminary hearing, dismissed the burglary charge, and held the remaining charges for court. Plaintiff subsequently pled guilty to simple assault and was sentenced to a period of incarceration.

         After plaintiffs release, public dockets reflect that he was arrested by Officer Emrich on December 19, 2015 for terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, risking catastrophe, institutional vandalism at an educational facility, and public drunkenness and similar misconduct. See Commonwealth v. Walker, Docket No. CP-46-CR-0000499-2016 (Montgomery Cty. Ct. of Common Pleas). Plaintiff alleges that after his arrest, he was cuffed to the bars in a cell and was so upset that he set himself on fire and was taken to the hospital. Plaintiff alleges that Officer Emrich should have searched him more thoroughly before putting him in the cell and taken the lighter that he used to set himself on fire. Judge Lawrence held the charges over for court after a preliminary hearing and plaintiff ultimately pled guilty before Judge Steven T. O'Neill to disorderly conduct and institutional vandalism. Plaintiff was again sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

         On June 22, 2016, plaintiff was arrested by Officer Bixler for criminal trespass, loitering, criminal mischief, and burglary. See Commonwealth v. Walker, Docket No. CP-46-0005074-2016 (Montgomery Cty. Ct. of Common Pleas). Judge Lawrence dismissed the burglary charge and held the remaining charges for court after a preliminary hearing. The remaining charges were nolle prossed on September 27, 2016.

         In May of 2017, Judge O'Neill denied plaintiffs motion to remove Ms. Lacheplle as his probation/parole officer. Also in May of 2017, plaintiff was arrested by Officer Bixler and, according to plaintiff, accused of a crime he did not commit. The docket for the resulting criminal proceeding reflects that plaintiff was charged with simple assault and harassment. See Commonwealth v. Walker, Docket No. CP-46-CR-0004041-2017 (Montgomery Cty. Ct. of Common Pleas). He recently pled guilty to three lesser charges of "disorderly conduct engaging in fighting" and was sentenced to ninety days of probation. Id. The complaint also references charges filed against plaintiff on January 11, 2017, which were dismissed after proceedings before Magisterial District Judge Lawrence. See Commonwealth v. Walker, Docket No. MJ-38115-CR-0000003-2017.

         Plaintiff sought release from imprisonment while the charges were pending so he could be with his ailing mother, but Judge O'Neill denied his requests and plaintiffs mother unfortunately passed away while he was incarcerated. Plaintiff alleges that he was deprived of the opportunity to be with his mother "thanks to Hon. Steven T. O'Neill and Mrs. Meghan Lacheplle along with Michael B. Gordon, Chief of Probation/Parole and those under him, all not caring at all!" He appears to be alleging that Lacheplle was also responsible for improperly charging him with violating his parole on various occasions.

         In that regard, plaintiff attached to his complaint motions and letters that he filed with the state court in which he claimed that Lacheplle improperly charged him with technical violations of his parole and that officers of the Norristown Police Department pursued false charges against him. He also attached to his complaint notices of parole violations and other notices that he received from the state court in connection with his various criminal proceedings. Despite alleging that Lacheplle had no basis to seek revocation of his parole, plaintiff admits in one filing to having committed at least one violation, i.e., having tested positive for cocaine.

         Plaintiff attached to his complaint additional exhibits and portions of form complaints that he completed, which suggest his intention to raise additional claims against additional defendants. For instance, one page indicates that plaintiff would like to bring claims against the prosecutor on one of his cases for "intimidating" one of plaintiff s witnesses by informing her that testifying in plaintiffs case could affect her own criminal case. Additional exhibits reflect that he was dissatisfied with the conditions at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, as discussed further below.

         B. Claims Related to the Conditions in which Plaintiff was Incarcerated at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility

         The second portion of plaintiffs complaint includes a page reflecting a second caption naming the following defendants: (1) William J. Catania; (2) Rev. Jerome F. Coleman; (3) Eileen W. Behr; (4) Stanley M. Turtle; (5) Julio Algarin; (6) Martha (Marcy) D'Orazio; (7) Paul Corbo; (8) Jonath Cohen; and (9) Chuck Colure. A few pages later in the complaint, plaintiff includes pages of a form complaint that he completed to identify the following individuals as defendants: (1) Julio Algarin; (2) Martha (Marcy) D'Orazio; (3) Paul Carbo; (4) Chuck Colar; (5) Jonathen Cohen; (6) Ms. Kielly; (7) G. Andrew Szekely; (8) Nancy L. Weiman; (9) William J. ...


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