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Taylor v. Beirne

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 10, 2019

HANNA LAURIE TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
MAUREEN BEIRNE, et al., Defendants.

          Caputo Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Susan E. Schwab Chief United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Introduction.

         In this 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.

         II. Background and Procedural History.

         On 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.

         Since 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.[1] Doc. 10 at 1.

         III. Discussion.

         A. Screening of In Forma Pauperis Complaints-Standard of Review.

         We have 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).

         A 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. ยง 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 ...


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