United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. Schwab Chief United States Magistrate Judge.
case, the plaintiff, Hanna Laurie Taylor
(“Taylor”), brings §1983 claims against
defendants Maureen J. Beirne (“Judge Beirne”) and
Pat Beirne. Judge Beirne is a judge in Bradford County and
Pat Beirne is a public defender in that county. After
screening Taylor's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1915A, we conclude that it fails to state a claim
because Judge Beirne is entitled to judicial immunity and Pat
Beirne is not a state actor. Thus, we recommend that
Taylor's case be dismissed with prejudice.
Background and Procedural History.
April 17, 2019, Taylor initiated this case by filing a
complaint. Taylor alleges the defendants violated her right
to “fair and just sentencing from a judge” and
competent counsel. Doc. 1 at 3. She claims
that she “received an extensive amount of time in an
illegal sentence order imposed by [Judge] Beirne” and
that “[she] did not receive competent counsel from Pat
Beirne, ” as he was “by no means . . . adequately
or competent[ly] representing [her]” with her
“best interest.” Doc. 1 at 4.
Taylor also alleges that Judge Beirne “gave [her] an
extensive illegal state sentence for charges that do not
constitute prison time” and that “The Judge . . .
and Pat Beirne had no intentions of making sure [she]
received a legal and just sentence.” Id. She
asks in her complaint if because Judge Beirne and Pat Beirne
“are family - isn't that a conflict of
interest.” Id. She alleges that she became
aware of the basis for her claim after a conversation on
March 25, 2019, when she spoke to Deputy Warden Quattrini and
he informed her that she received an “illegal
sentence.” Doc. 1 at 5. Taylor, in
the relief section of her complaint, asks that she receive
“time served and be released [from incarceration],
” she also asks that she “be compensated for all
the days [she] was forced to be in jail, when [she] should
have been free.” Id.
Taylor filed her complaint, the Court has received four
letters from Taylor. Each letter generally states the actions
Taylor has taken regarding the case, such as calling and
mailing the Bradford County Public Defender's Office
(see, e.g., docs. 6, 8,
9, 10). One letter shows dates relevant to
her sentence. Doc. 8 at 3-9. Taylor also
includes various correspondence, in relation to her sentence,
between the defendants. Doc. 9 at 3-8. In
her last letter dated May 3, 2019, Taylor states that she no
longer has counsel and that her previous public defender last
filed a “motion PCRA” in response to her habeas
corpus petition. Doc. 10 at 1.
Screening of In Forma Pauperis Complaints-Standard
a statutory obligation to review Taylor's complaint under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides that “[t]he
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.” Id. “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.
Id. § 1915A(b).
federal court is obligated to dismiss a complaint brought
in forma pauperis when the complaint “fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted.”
Id. § 1915A(b)(1). 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