CLARK v. CAMDEN COUNTY POLICE METRO et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Renee Marie Bumb on 6/27/2014. (nz, )n.m.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CARLOS A. CLARK,
: Civil Action No. 14-3011 (RMB)
POLICE METRO, et al.,
This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff’s submission
of his in forma pauperis application.
See Docket Entry No. 3.
In light of the application and absence of three disqualifying
strikes, this Court will grant Plaintiff in forma pauperis status
and direct the Clerk to file his complaint (“Complaint”), Docket
Entry No. 1.1
The Complaint arrived accompanied by a report
(“Report”) prepared by police upon Plaintiff’s arrest.
Docket Entry No. 1, at 11.
The Report states:
On 12/06/13 [two police officers] were on . . . patrol
[in] the area of . . . Clinton Street Park. . . .
[T]hey observed [Plaintiff] occupying the [P]ark after
hours, in violation of Camden Municipal Code . . . .
As the officers approached [Plaintiff in light of his]
being in the [P]ark after hours, he advised them he had
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No.
104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26,
1996), this Court must now review the Complaint, see 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b), and 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
immune from such relief.
“[d]ope” in his . . . pocket.
[Plaintiff] was placed
under arrest . . . . Search incident to arrest yielded
thirty-four bags of . . . heroin . . . and $119.00 US
currency. He was charged with [controlled-substance
Naming these police officers, as well as a police detective,
the police department and the chief of police, as defendants,
Plaintiff: (a) concedes that he was in the Park after hours;
however, he (b) maintains that his arrest violated his
constitutional rights since he was, allegedly, unaware that,
under the local law, the Park was closed at 10 p.m., and there
was no sign informing patrons of that local law.2
See id. at 6-
Liberally construed, see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89
(2007), Plaintiff’s allegations indicate his interest in raising
a Fourth Amendment false arrest claim.
allegations are facially insufficient as pled.3
While the Report suggests that Plaintiff was arrested on
the basis of his statement volunteering to the officers the fact
that he was in possession of “dope,” and heroin discovered upon
his search incident to arrest, this Court presumes – solely for
the purposes of screening and without making a factual finding –
that Petitioner’s arrest occurred as a result of his presence in
the Park after hours.
Plaintiff’s allegations against the police department are
conclusively barred. Arms of the State, such as the police
department, are not “persons” amenable to suit for damages under
§ 1983. See Will v. Mich. Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71
(1989); Grabow v. Southern State Corr., 726 F. Supp. 537, 538-39
(D.N.J. 1989); see also Vance v. Cty of Santa Clara, 928 F. Supp.
993, 995 (N.D. Cal. 1996); Mayes v. Elrod, 470 F. Supp. 1188,
“The proper inquiry in a Section 1983 claim based on false
arrest is not whether the person arrested in fact committed the
offense but whether the arresting officers had probable cause to
believe the person arrested had committed the offense.”
v. City of Phila., 855 F.2d 136, 141 (3d Cir. 1988).
officer has probable cause to believe a person committed even a
minor crime, the balancing of private and public
not in doubt and the arrest is constitutionally reasonable.”
Virginia v. Moore, 553 U.S. 164, 171 (2008) (emphasis supplied).
Thus, Plaintiff must state “the facts showing that, under the
circumstances within the officer[s’] knowledge, a reasonable
officer could not have believed that an offense had been or was
being committed by [Plaintiff].”
Mosley v. Wilson, 102 F.3d 85,
94-5 (3d Cir. 1996); accord Revell v. Port Authority of New York,
New Jersey, 598 F. 3d 128, 137 n.16 (3d Cir. 2010).
Here, the Complaint concedes that Plaintiff was in the Park
after hours and, thus, a reasonable officer could have concluded
that Plaintiff was committing a violation of the local law.
follows that his arrest was conducted with the requisite probable
1192 (N.D. Ill. 1979). Moreover, Plaintiff’s allegations against
the chief of police and the detective, being based solely on the
theory of respondeat superior, are also facially deficient. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676-77 (2009); see also Colburn
v. Upper Darby Twp., 946 F.2d 1017, 1027 (3d Cir. 1991).
cause, rendering his Fourth Amendment claim facially meritless.4
Plaintiff’s position that he should not have been arrested
because he was, allegedly, ignorant of the local law, and there
was no sign in the Park informing him of the same, is unavailing.
The test as to one’s knowledge of law is objective, and the law
is presumed known to all, Plaintiff included.5
Therefore, Plaintiff’s Complaint will be dismissed.6
An appropriate Order follows.
s/Renée Marie Bumb
RENÉE MARIE BUMB
United States District Judge
Dated: June 27, 2014
See Moore, 553 U.S. at 171; see also United States v.
Hathcock, 103 F.3d 715 (8th Cir. 1997).
See Gilmore v. Taylor, 508 U.S. 333, 359 (1993) (observing
that “a citizen . . . is presumed to know the law,” and relying
on the axiom in Atkins v. Parker, 472 U.S. 115, 130 (1985), that
“[a]ll citizens are presumptively charged with knowledge of the
law,” citing the finding in North Laramie Land Co. v. Hoffman,
268 U.S. 276, 283 (1925), that “[a]ll persons are charged with
knowledge of the provisions of statutes and must take note of the
procedure adopted by them; and when that procedure is not
unreasonable or arbitrary there are no constitutional limitations
relieving them from conforming to it”).
However, out of an abundance of caution, this Court will
allow Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint in
the event: (a) Plaintiff intended to assert that he was not in
the Park after hours, or that the Park was not subject to the
local law referred to in the Report; and (b) Plaintiff can aver
to facts in support of such assertions.
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