United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
F. SAPORITO, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff, Francis Joseph Caretti Jr.,  filed his original pro se
complaint on or about February 14, 2017. He filed an amended complaint
as a matter of right on or about April 21, 2017. In essence,
he claims that he is entitled to an award of damages from the
defendants in excess of $78 million for their roles in his
incarceration, which began in 2006 after his conviction on
297 counts of possession of child pornography.
reasons stated herein, we recommend that the action be
dismissed as frivolous and for failure to state a claim,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
time of filing, Caretti was a convicted state inmate
incarcerated at SCI Benner Township, a state prison located
in Centre County, Pennsylvania, where he was incarcerated
pursuant to a state criminal judgment. On February 28, 2006,
following a jury trial, Caretti was convicted of 297 counts
of felony possession of child pornography and 3 counts of
misdemeanor possession of obscene materials in the Court of
Common Pleas of Butler County, Pennsylvania. Commonwealth
v. Caretti, Docket No. CP-10-CR-0000565-2005 (Butler
Cty. (Pa.) C.C.P.). On May 18, 2006, he was sentenced to
serve an aggregate term of nine to twenty-seven years in
prison. Commonwealth v. Caretti, Docket No.
CP-10-CR-0000565-2005 (Butler Cty. (Pa.) C.C.P.). (See
also Doc. 8-1, at 63- 65.) On October 19, 2017, the
Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed Caretti's
conviction and sentence in part and reversed it in part.
Commonwealth v. Caretti, 943 A.2d 309 (Pa. Super.
Ct. 2007) (table decision). Caretti sought discretionary
review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which denied
allocatur on May 30, 2008. Commonwealth v. Caretti,
952 A.2d 674 (Pa. 2007) (table decision). On September 12,
2008, the trial court reaffirmed and re-imposed its prior
sentence in its entirety on remand. Commonwealth v.
Caretti, Docket No. CP-10-CR-0000565-2005 (Butler Cty.
filed his original complaint in this matter on or about
February 14, 2017. (Doc. 1.) He filed an amended complaint as
a matter of right on or about April 21, 2017. (Doc. 8.) The
amended complaint names four defendants: (1) The Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania; (2) the Butler County Court of Common Pleas;
(3) Thomas J. Doerr, the President Judge of the Butler County
Court of Common Pleas, in his personal capacity
(4) Richard A. Goldinger, the District Attorney for Butler
County, in his personal capacity only. Generally, Caretti appears to
claim that the state court lacked jurisdiction to prosecute
him, and that the individual defendants are liable for
damages pursuant to a contractual agreement of a sort. For
relief, the plaintiff appears to seek injunctive relief-his
release from incarceration-and an award of $78 million in
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is obligated to screen a
civil complaint in which a prisoner is seeking redress from a
governmental entity or an officer or employee of a
governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a); James v.
Pa. Dep't of Corr., 230 Fed. App'x 195, 197 (3d
Cir. 2007). The Court must dismiss the complaint if it is
“frivolous” or “fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1). See generally Banks v. Cty. of
Allegheny, 568 F.Supp.2d 579, 587-89 (W.D. Pa. 2008)
(summarizing prisoner litigation screening procedures and
action is “frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis
in either law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); see also Thomas v. Barker,
371 F.Supp.2d 636, 639 (M.D. Pa. 2005). To determine whether
it is frivolous, a court must assess a complaint “from
an objective standpoint in order to determine whether the
claim is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or
clearly baseless factual contention.” Deutsch v.
United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1086 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992));
Thomas, 371 F.Supp.2d at 639. Factual allegations
are “clearly baseless” if they are
“fanciful, ” “fantastic, ” or
“delusional.” See Denton, 504 U.S. at
32-33. “[A] finding of factual frivolousness is
appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the
irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are
judicially noticeable facts available to contradict
them.” Id. at 33. A district court is further
permitted, in its sound discretion, to dismiss a claim
“if it determines that the claim is of little or no
weight, value, or importance, not worthy of serious
consideration, or trivial.” Deutsch, 67 F.3d
legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim under § 1915A(b)(1) is the same as that
for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Brodzki v. Tribune
Co., 481 Fed. App'x 705, 706 (3d Cir. 2012) (per
curiam); Mitchell v. Dodrill, 696 F.Supp.2d 454, 471
(M.D. Pa. 2010); Banks, 568 F.Supp.2d at 588.
“Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss may be
granted only if, accepting all well-pleaded allegations in
the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, a court finds the plaintiff's
claims lack facial plausibility.” Warren Gen. Hosp.
v. Amgen Inc., 643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
(2007)). In deciding the motion, the Court may consider the
facts alleged on the face of the complaint, as well as
“documents incorporated into the complaint by
reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial
notice.” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues &
Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). Although the
Court must accept the fact allegations in the complaint as
true, it is not compelled to accept “unsupported
conclusions and unwarranted inferences, or a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation.” Morrow v.
Balaski, 719 F.3d 160, 165 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir.
2007)). Nor is it required to credit factual allegations
contradicted by indisputably authentic documents on which the
complaint relies or matters of public record of which we may
take judicial notice. In re Washington Mut. Inc.,
741 Fed. App'x 88, 91 n.3 (3d Cir. Sept. 25, 2018);
Sourovelis v. City of Philadelphia, 246 F.Supp.3d
1058, 1075 (E.D. Pa. 2017); Banks, 568 F.Supp.2d at
clear from the plaintiff's pleadings that he is an
to the belief that even though he was born and resides in the
United States, he is his own sovereign and is therefore not a
United States citizen. This belief is the hallmark of the
sovereign citizen movement. So-called sovereign citizens
believe that they are not subject to government authority and
employ various tactics in an attempt to, among other things,
avoid paying taxes, extinguish debts, and derail criminal
Gravatt v. United States, 100 Fed.Cl. 279, 282
(2011) (footnote omitted). See generally Charles E.
Loeser, From Paper Terrorists to Cop Killers: The
Sovereign Citizen Threat, 93 N.C. L. Rev. 1106, 1120-29
(2015) (describing the common beliefs and tactics of
tactic adopted by Caretti here was the preparation of a
document styled as a Criminal Complaint & Affidavit
of Obligation for Claim Upon Public Hazard Bonds Demand for
Release (“Affidavit of Obligation”), dated
September 6, 2016, by which Caretti purported to advise Judge
Doerr and Attorney Goldinger that he was a sovereign
“living man” (“Francis Joseph Caretti
Jr.”) distinct from the “nom de
guerre” defendant (“FRANCIS JOSEPH CARETTI
JR.”) subject to criminal proceedings, and that he was
therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the state court.
The Affidavit of Obligation further provided that, unless
they provided a “point-for-point response sworn under
full commercial liability, with supporting evidence attached,
” the individual defendants' failure to respond
would constitute silent assent to a contract under which they
would be liable to Caretti for contractual damages in excess
of $78 million.
form of relief requested by the plaintiff in his complaint is
his immediate release from prison. But this form of
injunctive relief is simply not cognizable in a federal civil
rights action. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,
481 (1994) (“[H]abeas corpus is the exclusive remedy
for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of
his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release . . .
.”) (citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475, 488-90 (1973)); Thomas v. Morganelli, Civil
Action No. 16-2161, 2016 WL 7116011, at *5 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 7,
2016) (finding federal district court lacked jurisdiction to
invalidate plaintiff's state conviction because “a
federal court may not ‘compel a state court to exercise
a jurisdiction entrusted to it' or ‘review a
decision of a state tribunal'”) (quoting In re
Grand Jury Proceedings, 654 F.2d 268, 278 (3d Cir.
1981)). Requesting such relief in a non-habeas civil action
is clearly frivolous. See Mundy v. City of
Philadelphia, Civil Action No. 13-5045, 2013 WL 4766542,
at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 4, 2013).
it is recommended that the plaintiff's claim for
injunctive relief be dismissed as legally frivolous pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Damages Claims Against the ...