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Jones v. Marsaglia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 30, 2019

MARTIN W. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
TONY MARSAGLIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          GERALD J. PAPPERT, J.

         Martin W. Jones, a prisoner incarcerated at SCI Rockview sues Tony Marsaglia, Michael Kaminski, Frank Najero, and Joshua Mallery (Badge #99-30) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Jones seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Jones leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint with leave to amend.

         I

         Jones alleges constitutional claims against the Defendants in both their official and individual capacities. Jones contends that at the time of the incidents giving rise to his Complaint, Marsaglia was a police detective and Kaminski a police officer with Upper Southampton Police Department. (ECF No. 3 at 2-3, 12.)[1] Jones further alleges that Najera was a police detective with Upper Saucon Police Department and that Mallery was a detective with the Bucks County District Attorney's Office. (Id.)

         Jones's allegations appear to relate predominately to his arrest on April 11, 2018 pursuant to a warrant and matters stemming from the related criminal investigation. (Id. at 12.) In his Complaint, Jones avers initially that the “arrest and search was unlawful.” (Id. at 3.) It appears, however, that although Jones sets forth four legal claims based on different factual events, these events seem to be somewhat intertwined. (Id. at 12-15.)

         With respect to his first claim, and presumably by way of background, Jones states that on September 1, 2017, while he was stopped while driving by Upper Southampton Township police officers. (Id. at 13.) Jones claims that Jenny Lynn Jones (who is unrelated to him) handed police officers a blue bag containing five ounces of methamphetamine, giving permission to search its contents. (Id.) Jenny Lynn Jones was arrested that same day. (Id.) Jones, however, asserts that he was arrested eight months later, on April 11, 2018, based on charges resulting from the recovery of the five ounces of methamphetamine. (Id. at 12-13.) With respect to the April 11, 2018 arrest, Jones contends that Kaminski and Mallery served the arrest warrant on him after he had stepped out of his residence and closed the door. (Id. at 13.) Jones contends that Najera, Mallery, and Marsaglia then entered his residence “to see if probable cause existed, to obtain a search warrant” even though they only had a “body warrant” for him. (Id.) Jones asserts that the search of his residence was unlawful and tainted a later search. (Id. at 13-14.)

         With respect to his next claim, Jones avers that between April 15 and April 29, 2018, Mallery reviewed prison phone calls between Jones and Jenny Jones while he was incarcerated at Bucks County prison. (Id. at 14.) Jones contends that Mallery violated his rights by unlawfully reviewing and recording those prison phone calls. (Id.)

         In his third claim Jones asserts that Najera unlawfully “seized” his [cell] phone “on or about January 2, 2018.” (Id.) Jones submits that the content of the phone was reviewed by Mallery and Najera. (Id.) Jones further states that Najera admits in police reports that “he did not get written consent for it or a search warrant.” (Id. at 14-15.) Jones contends that an unlawful search and “extraction of the phone was conducted, without consent and without a warrant.” (Id.)

         Jones's final claim is that the Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his needs when he was questioned on January 2 and January 5, 2018 by Najera and Mallery without being read his Miranda rights. (Id. at 15.)

         Jones seeks judgment in his favor and a “declaration that the acts and omission described [in his Complaint] violate [his] rights under the Constitution and laws of the United States against each Defendant, jointly and severally.” (Id.) Jones seeks punitive and compensatory damages in an “amount of what [the] court deems just and fair.” (Id.)

         Some, if not all, of Jones's claims relate to his prosecution on drug-related charges. Public dockets from the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas show that on April 11, 2018, Jones was arrested by Kasminski on various drug charges including manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, as well as a drug conspiracy charge. See Commonwealth v. Jones, Docket No. CP-09-CR-0004070-2018 (Bucks Cty. Court of Common Pleas). These charges related back to an offense date of September 1, 2017. (Id.) Jones entered a plea of nolo contendere to all charges stemming from the offense date of September 1, 2017 and was sentenced to a total term of two to four years imprisonment on September 4, 2018. (Id.)

         Additionally, on May 7, 2018 Jones was arrested by Mallery on charges of giving false or misleading information or testimony and a charge of harassment stemming from an offense date of April 13, 2018, while he was incarcerated at the Bucks County prison. See Commonwealth v. Jones, Docket No. CP-09-CR-0004071-2018 (Bucks Cty. Court of Common Pleas). On September 4, 2018, following a negotiated guilty plea, the court sentenced Jones to seven years in prison on the charge of giving false or misleading information or testimony, and dismissed the remaining charges. (Id.) It is not clear whether this prosecution or any related criminal investigation are implicated by Jones's Complaint. None of convictions referenced above have been vacated or invalidated.[2] (Id.)

         II

         The Court will grant Jones leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action.[3] Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine whether the complaint contains “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). Conclusory allegations do not suffice. Id. As Jones is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011); but see Argentina v. Gillette, No. 19-1348, 2019 WL 2538020, at *1 (3d Cir. ...


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