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Spearman v. Sotello

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 27, 2018

ANGELIQUE SOTELLO, etal., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Melvin Spearman brings this civil action primarily against police officers, prosecutors, judges, and City employees, based on arrests and criminal proceedings in Philadelphia, as well as proceedings in family court. He seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Spearman leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss the Complaint without prejudice to Spearman filing an amended complaint.

         I. FACTS

         In his Complaint, Spearman identified the following Defendants: (1) Angelique Sotello;[1] (2) Detective Alonzo Dawson; (3) P/O Melanie Brown; (4) P/O Michael Brown; (5) P/O Kimberly Fawley; (6) Sgt. Mohan; (7) P/O Regan; (8) Denise M. Turpin (Deputy Commissioner); (9) Christopher Flacco (Chief Inspector); (10) Lieutenant John Evans; (11) Daphine Jackson-May; (12) Detective Swann; (13) P/O Robinson; (14) Catarina Valodores (Dept. Human Services); (15) Philadelphia Sheriffs Dept.; (16) Allison Fleming (Assistant District Attorney); (17) Seth Williams; (18) Judge Donna Woelopper; (19) Judge Karen Simmons; (20) P/O Kimberly Butler; (21) P/O Peterson; (22) P/O Knott; (23) P/O Corson; (24) P/O John Killen; (25) P/O Curtis Matthews; (26) Monique Severio (Dept. Human Services); (27) Charlene Hightower; (28) Janice Macolon; and (29) Mary Ellen Fields (Assistant District Attorney).

         Although Spearman's Complaint is vague, it indicates that he is engaged in contentious custody proceedings in family court and that he has been arrested for various criminal offenses, including violating a protection from abuse order. The Complaint indicates that Spearman was arrested five times between December 4, 2016 and December 21, 2016. He also lists five dates in 2017 where it appears he attended proceedings in family court and/or was arrested. A search of Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System for Spearman reveals numerous criminal proceedings filed against him.

         Spearman sets forth the factual basis for his claims as follows:

Multiple arrest and harassments from police officers in the 35th police district for fabricate crimes for [violation] of a PFA order, (never serve to myself), causing charges to be file[d] against myself. Det. Dawson a friend of the individual Anglique Sotelo who placed the PFA deleted info from my cell phone while I was in custody at the police district (my cell [phone] was [confiscated] by the police officers) When I reported to police internal affairs this tampering of evidence they promise[d] to investigate however later refused to do so. Multiple arrest and harassment by friend Detective of Ms Sotelo always right before going to family court for child/custody visitation issues.

(Compl. ECF No. 2 at 13.)[2]

         Spearman further alleges that the "35th District" filed false police reports against him and failed to "properly investigate a call about an accusation" that he had a gun. (Id.) He also contends that the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office filed false charges against him and that the Department of Human Services "failed to properly investigate abuse charges of [a] minor child," presumably his child. (Id.) He adds that the Sheriffs Department harassed him at family court during visitation hours with his son. In support of his claims, he notes that during court proceedings, Assistant District Attorneys were seen texting "Women Against Abuse lawyers," and that "[u]nexpected last minute court room changes and last minute judge changes during a few of the court proceedings seem to bring in very bias[ed] judges." (Id.)

         Spearman alleges that Sotello- -who appears to be the mother of his child-assaulted him and fractured his tooth. He also alleges that he has suffered "depression, stress and anxiety caused by this ongoing harassment and false accusations." (Id. at 15.) Spearman would like the Court to "speak with [him] concerning this lawsuit," conclude that his civil rights have been violated, and award him $300 million in damages.


         Spearman is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he is unable to pay the costs of filing suit. As Spearman is proceeding in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § l9l5(e)(2)(B)(i) & (ii) apply, which require the Court to dismiss the Complaint if it is frivolous or fails to state a claim. A complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact," Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), and is legally baseless if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory." Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995). To survive dismissal, a complaint "must contain 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). "[M]ere conclusory statements[] do not suffice." Id. As Spearman is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).


         A, ...

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