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Scott v. Comm. of PA

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 1, 2018

REGINALD C. SCOTT, Plaintiff
v.
COMM. OF PA, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Reginald C. Scott, an inmate at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania, filed the instant petition for writ of mandamus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1361. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff challenges his conviction and sentence, “seeking the grant of a writ of mandamus be issued to remand the double jeopardy violation to the lower court and the respondent party, Comm. of Pennsylvania Dauphin County to be directed or ordered to vacate the cumulative second sentence of life-imprisonment in accordance with well-established law both Federal and State.” Id. Along with his petition for writ of mandamus, Scott has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 6). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, will be granted and the petition for writ of mandamus will be denied.

         II. Standards of Review

         A. Screening

         This Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary review of pro se complaints which seek redress against government officials. Specifically, the Court is obligated to review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening.-The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for dismissal.-On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         Under Section 1915A, the Court must assess whether a pro se complaint “fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” This statutory text mirrors the language of Rule 12(b) (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that a complaint should be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         With respect to this benchmark standard for legal sufficiency of a complaint, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has aptly noted the evolving standards governing pleading practice in federal court, stating that:

Standards of pleading have been in the forefront of jurisprudence in recent years. Beginning with the Supreme Court's opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) continuing with our opinion in Phillips [v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 230 (3d Cir. 2008)] and culminating recently with the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) pleading standards have seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to plead more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to dismiss.

Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209-10 (3d Cir. 2009).

         The court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. County ofAllegheny,515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint, “however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards ...


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