Jones v. Justice Of The Peace Court 3
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 10/5/2017. (nms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
: Civil Action No. 17-572-RGA
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURT
NO. 3,GEORGETOWN, DELAWARE,
Matthew Jones, Greenwood, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Joseph Clement Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice,
Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.
Plaintiff Matthew Jones, who appears pro se and has been granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis filed this action in December 2016 in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Justice of the Peace
Court No. 3, Georgetown, Delaware. The matter was transferred to this Court on
December 21, 2016. (D.I. 2). Jones asserts jurisdiction by reason of a federal question
and alleges that his claims arise under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United
States. Defendant moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6)
prior to review and screening of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(8).
(D.I. 9). Plaintiff opposes the motion to dismiss. (D.I. 10). The Court proceeds to
screen the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(8).
Jones alleges that from December 31, 2014 to the present, long standing
enslavement, sexual slavery, forced labor, identity theft, larceny, forgery, assault,
attempted murder, rape, pedophilia, and other felonious acts were committed. (D.1. 3 at
p.2). Jones alleges the acts occurred as a result of his mother's call to 911, the
Delaware State Police arriving at their home, and his arrest for felony assault. (Id.).
Plaintiff was held without bail. The case was ultimately dismissed. (Id. at p.4). The
Complaint refers to a number of other traffic incidents that occurred between 2002 and
Jones alleges numerous violations of federal criminal law, Delaware State law,
and amendments of the United States Constitution. (Id. at pp.5-10). He seeks two
billion dollars in damages.
A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) if ''the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief." Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir.
2013); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions). The Court must
accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most
favorable to a prose plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d
Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro
se, his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint, "however inartfully pleaded,
must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).
An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact."
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), a
court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless
legal theory" or a "clearly baseless" or "fantastic or delusional" factual scenario.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).
The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant
to§ 1915(e)(2)(8)(ii) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6)
motions. Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999). However, before
dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court must grant
Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile.
See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F .3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002).
A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions.
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell At/. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive
plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby, _U.S._, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A
complaint may not dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory
supporting the claim asserted. See id. at 346.
A court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint must take three steps: (1) take
note of the elements the plaintiff must plead to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that,
because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth;
and (3) when there are well-pleaded factual allegations, assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Connelly v. Lane
Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (internal citations and quotations
omitted). Elements are sufficiently alleged when the facts in the complaint "show" that
the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)).
Deciding whether a claim is plausible will be a "context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.
The sole defendant is the Justice of the Peace Court No. 3. The Eleventh
Amendment protects states and their agencies and departments from suit in federal
court regardless of the kind of relief sought. Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). "Absent a state's consent, the Eleventh
Amendment bars a civil rights suit in federal court that names the state as a defendant."
Laskaris v. Thornburgh, 661 F.2d 23, 25 (3d Cir. 1981) (citing Alabama v. Pugh, 438
U.S. 781 (1978)). Delaware has not waived its immunity from suit in federal court;
although Congress can abrogate a state's sovereign immunity, it did not do so through
the enactment of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Brooks-McCollum v. Delaware, 213 F. App'x
92, 94 (3d Cir. 2007).
Following the reasoning of the Third Circuit in Benn v. First Judicial Dist. of Pa.,
the Court concludes that the Justice of the Peace Court is a state entity and, thus,
immune from suit. Benn, 426 F.3d 233, 239-40 (3d Cir. 2005) (concluding that
Pennsylvania's First Judicial District is a state entity entitled to Eleventh Amendment
immunity). In addition, dismissal is proper because Defendant is not a person for
purposes of§ 1983. See Wil/v. MichiganDep'tofStatePolice, 491U.S.58, 71 (1989);
Calhoun v. Young, 288 F. App'x 47 (3d Cir. 2008). Finally, after thoroughly reviewing
the complaint and applicable law, the Court draws on its judicial experience and
common sense and finds that the claims raised by Jones are frivolous. Therefore, the
Court will dismiss the Complaint as frivolous and based upon the Justice of the Peace
Court's immunity from suit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(8)(i) and (iii). 1
To the extent Jones attempts to raise supplemental state claims, because the
Complaint fails to state federal claims, the Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over
any supplemental state law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367; De Asencio v. Tyson Foods,
Inc., 342 F.3d 301, 309 (3d Cir. 2003).
For the above reasons, the Court will: (1) dismiss the Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(8) (i) and (iii); and (2) dismiss as moot Plaintiff's motion for default
judgment (D.I. 5), Plaintiffs motion for issuance of subpoena (0.1. 6), and Defendant's
motion to dismiss (D.I. 9). The Court finds amendment futile.
An appropriate order will be entered.
The Court of Appeals recently affirmed the same ruling in a suit by Plaintiff against Justice of the Peace
Court Number 4. No. 17-1848 (3d Cir. Aug. 9, 2017).
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