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Anthony v. Berks County Judicial System

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 3, 2018



          KEARNEY, J.

         Joshua Anthony James Butler, presently incarcerated at the Berks County Jail, pro se seeks 31 million dollars arguing the Berks County Judicial System, Berks County Parole & Probation and Berks County Police Department violated his constitutional rights apparently in connection with his 2016 arrest and criminal proceedings in state court. Upon reviewing his financial affidavit, we allow him leave to proceed in forma pauperis. But even liberally construing his allegations, he does not presently plead a civil rights claim within our jurisdiction. We must dismiss his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). We grant him leave to timely file an amended complaint with a short and plain statement of his claim including facts of each defendant's role.

         I. Plead facts

         Mr. Butler's pro se complaint based on the Court's form §1983 complaint names the "Berks County Judicial System, " "Berks County Parole & Probation, " and "Berks County Police Department of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania", He also identifies Judge Thomas G. Parisi; Parole Officer Dena Dietrich; and "Police Department of Berks County." He alleges that his claims occurred on (1) September 14, 2016; (2) November 22, 2016; (3) November 28, 2016; and, (4) January 19, 2017.

Mr. Butler bases his claim on conclusory phrases and sentence fragments rather than pleading facts:
While locked up in the Berks County Jail institution I was, unlawfully released, after committed to serve a maximum sentence. Conspired against to use malpractice. A victim of an illegal operation. Convicted to serve a sentence according to falsified document. A victim of Double Jeporady [sic]. Targed [sic] as a target of harassment and criminal violence by the penal system.
Judge Thomas G. Parisi; Malpractice. Double Jeporady. [sic]. Tampering w/ Government official documents. Formulating an illegal document. Illegal judgments by a license law official. Conspiracy to convict a defendant on false terms, cruelty and unlawful punishment by a law official. Participations in an illegal operation by a Judge. Parole Officer Dena Dietrich who I am sueing [sic] for the charges of; filing illegal paperwork, aid to release of a felon sentenced under a judgment, breach of contract; conspiracy to reconvict a client on a harder sentence. Neglection [sic] to jobly [sic] duties; overlooking legal documents; cruelty and unlawful punishment.[1]

         Mr. Butler adds Judge Parisi neglected his job duties and failed to "authorize proper investigation of illegal actions."[2] Parole Officer Dietrich allegedly participated in an "illegal arrest, " assisted with the tampering of documents, and aided "assault and police brutality."[3] He notes "Hold dated on 11/22/16 for a 96 hour hold, active at 0855 AM, " but it is not clear what this refers.

         Mr. Butler claims a wound to his leg when he was bitten by a police dog. Mr. Butler's claims against the "Berks County Police Department" are based on "harassment of an innocent citizen on the scene of the crime, badgerment [sic], police brutality, participation in an illegal operation [sic], [illegible] attempt to intimidate, neglection [sic] of treatment after [illegible] to an injury."[4] Mr. Butler also suggests unhappiness in pleading guilty to resisting arrest and being dissatisfied with the public defender assigned to represent him.

         As Mr. Butler used our form complaint for a civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, we understand he is pursuing constitutional claims. Mr. Butler seeks 31 Million dollars in damages and an order expunging his file "of all illegal files and falsified documents, or cleared."[5]

II. Analysis

We grant Mr. Butler leave to proceed in forma pauperis as he is incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action.[6]

         Upon granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis, we must to dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim.[7] We apply the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)[8]: whether the complaint contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[9] Conclusory allegations do not suffice.[10] As Mr. Butler is proceeding pro se, we liberally construe his allegations.[11] We also require a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."[12] We may sua sponte dismiss a complaint that does not comply with Rule 8 if "the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised."[13] "Pleadings [must] provide enough information to put a defendant on sufficient notice to prepare their defense and also ensure that the Court is sufficiently informed to determine the issue."[14]

A. Mr. Butler fails to plead a claim.

         Mr. Butler relies on conclusory statements to plead his claims. For example, he avers being "conspired against, " made to be a "victim of an illegal operation, " and harassed, but he does not plead a fact supporting or explaining what happened to him and how each of defendant played a role in this conduct.[15] Although we generally understand Mr. Butler is bringing claims based on his arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, it is not clear which arrests or prosecutions he is challenging, why he is challenging those arrests or prosecutions, or the bases for his claims against each Defendant. Accordingly, the Complaint does not state a claim as pled.

         Further, "to 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[.]"[16] Accordingly, if Mr. Butler is raising claims based on wrongful conviction and imprisonment-which it appears he is trying to do-he may not proceed on his claims unless the challenged convictions have first been reversed ...

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