FORCHION v. DELEHEY et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 7/14/2014. (nz, )n.m.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
R. EDWARD FORCHION,
CHARLES DELEHEY, et al.,
Civil No. 13-7263 (JBS)
R. Edward Forchion, Pro Se
Burlington County Correctional Facility
54 Grant Street
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge
Plaintiff, R. Edward Forchion, confined at the Burlington
County Correctional Facility, Mount Holly, New Jersey, submitted a
civil Complaint alleging violations of his constitutional rights and
an application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”). Based on the
submissions, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the
The Court must now review the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b) to determine whether it should be
dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's Complaint should
be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff seeks to sue Judge Charles Delehey, a New Jersey
Superior Court Judge, the State of New Jersey, and Burlington County.
(Complt., ¶ 4). He states that on April 1, 2010, he was arrested and
charged with possession and possession with intent to distribute
marijuana. After a not guilty verdict on the intent to distribute
charge, Plaintiff was sentenced on January 16 (presumably 2013) to
two years of probation.
At some point, Plaintiff was arrested on a probation violation
as a fugitive of justice. Plaintiff explains that he travels from
New Jersey to California for bone cancer treatment. He states that
he was “held in jail until I agreed to plead guilty to [the] bogus
probation violation. I missed two monthly cancer treatments from Feb.
2013 - March 2013 and was in fear of missing [the] third when brought
before Judge Delehey with the mandate to plead guilty to bogus
violation and I’d be free to travel to get treatment!!!” Plaintiff
argues that he was denied healthcare to force the plea. (Complt.,
Plaintiff asks for vacation of the guilty plea, and for “a new
probation violation [to] be convened.” (Complt., ¶ 7).
1. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal
Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§
801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996) (“PLRA”),
district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in
which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee or
entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim with respect to
prison conditions, see 28 U.S.C. § 1997e.
The PLRA directs district
courts to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and § 1915A because Plaintiff is a prisoner
and is proceeding as an indigent.
According to the Supreme Court’s decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
“a pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’” 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
To survive sua sponte screening for failure
to state a claim, 1 the complaint must allege “sufficient factual
matter” to show that the claim is facially plausible.
Fowler v. UPMS
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Belmont v. MB
Inv. Partners, Inc., 708 F.3d 470, 483 n.17 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
Moreover, while pro se pleadings are
liberally construed, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient
facts in their complaints to support a claim.”
Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted)
Section 1983 Actions
A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for certain violations of his constitutional rights. Section 1983
provides in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory ...
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United
States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
“The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same
as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App’x 120, 122 (3d
Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir.
2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App’x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287
F. App’x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress ....
Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the Constitution
or laws of the United States and, second, that the alleged deprivation
was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law.
See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Malleus v. George, 641
F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff’s Complaint Must Be Dismissed.
In a series of cases beginning with Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475 (1973), the Supreme Court has analyzed the intersection of
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the federal habeas corpus statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. In Preiser, state prisoners who had been deprived of
good-conduct-time credits by the New York State Department of
Correctional Services as a result of disciplinary proceedings
brought a § 1983 action seeking injunctive relief to compel
restoration of the credits, which would have resulted in their
immediate release. See 411 U.S. at 476. The prisoners did not seek
compensatory damages for the loss of their credits. See 411 U.S. at
494. The Court held that “when a state prisoner is challenging the
very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and the relief
he seeks is a determination that he is entitled to immediate release
or a speedier release from that imprisonment, his sole federal remedy
is a writ of habeas corpus.” Id. at 500.
Here, the Court notes that Plaintiff attaches to the Complaint
his state court remedies, wherein he requested to stay his nine-month
violation of probation sentence pending appeal. Regardless, the
relief Plaintiff seeks cannot be obtained in a § 1983 case, as it
involves Plaintiff’s criminal conviction and seeks vacation of his
guilty plea. After exhaustion of his state court remedies, Plaintiff
must file a habeas petition to challenge his conviction.
Thus, until Plaintiff’s criminal conviction is invalidated, any
§ 1983 action challenging the conviction and seeking a remedy is
unenforceable. Plaintiff cannot have his conviction overturned in
this § 1983 action, nor can he collect monetary damages prior to his
conviction being invalidated through habeas relief or otherwise. See
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Therefore, the Complaint must
be dismissed with prejudice.2
The Court also notes that should Plaintiff seek monetary relief,
he cannot do so against the named defendants. As to the State of New
Jersey, unless a state clearly waives sovereign immunity or Congress
abrogates it, the Eleventh Amendment precludes all claims against
a state for monetary damages. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342
(1979) (“a suit in federal court by private parties seeking to impose
a liability which must be paid from public funds in the state treasury
is barred by the Eleventh Amendment”). As to Judge Delehey, “[i]t
is a well-settled principle of law that judges are generally ‘immune
from a suit for money damages.’” Figueroa v. Blackburn, 208 F.3d 435,
440 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 9 (1991)).
“A judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action he took
was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his
authority.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356 (1978). Furthermore,
“[a] judge is absolutely immune from liability for his judicial acts
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff’s Complaint must be
dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. An appropriate Order follows.
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief Judge
United States District Court
July 14, 2014
even if his exercise of authority is flawed by the commission of grave
procedural errors.” Id. at 359.
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