BENJAMIN v. EAST ORANGE POLICE DEPARTMENT et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge William J. Martini on 6/11/15. (gh, ) (Main Document 107 replaced on 6/11/2015) (gh).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
VENETTA N. BENJAMIN
Civ. No. 2:12-cv-00774 (WJM)
CITY OF EAST ORANGE, et al.,
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.:
This matter comes before the Court on pro se Defendant Shamsiddin AbdurRaheem’s (“Abdur-Raheem”) appeal of Magistrate Judge Falk’s March 17, 2015
order compelling his deposition. There was no oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P.
78(b). For the reasons set forth below, Abdur-Raheem’s appeal is DENIED, and
Judge Falk’s order is AFFIRMED.
Plaintiff filed this action against Defendants Abdur-Raheem and the City of
East Orange following the murder of her infant daughter, Zara. Abdur-Raheem,
who was Zara’s biological father, was convicted of Zara’s murder in 2012.
Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various
state laws arising from Zara’s death and the events leading up to her death. AbdurRaheem responded with various counterclaims against Plaintiff.
The instant appeal concerns discovery. On March 17, 2015, Judge Falk
issued an order to compel Abdur-Raheem’s deposition. Abdur-Raheem appealed
that order on April 12, 2015.
Abdur-Raheem mistakenly attempts to appeal to the Third Circuit Court of
Appeals and cites Fed. R. App. P. 3(d). However, to reach the Third Circuit before
a final decision, movants must request certification and permission to file an
interlocutory appeal permissible under 28 U.S.C. § 1292. Moreover, the Court
would deny such a motion if filed because this case presents neither an enumerated
exception available under Section 1292(a), nor an issue for which the Court has
discretion under Section 1292(b). See Bacher v. Allstate Ins. Co., 211 F.3d 52, 57
(3d Cir. 2000) (holding that collateral order doctrine does not extend to discovery
orders, save few inapplicable exceptions.)
Because Abdur-Raheem files pro se, the Court will construe his motion as
an appeal of a Magistrate Judge’s order to a district judge under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 72(a). As an initial matter, to object to a Magistrate Judge’s order,
appellants must do so within 14 days of being served that order. Fed. R. Civ. P.
72(a). Abdur-Raheem thus failed to timely appeal. Further, as explained below, the
Court finds no substantive grounds for reversing the order.
A district court may reverse a magistrate judge’s order if it finds the ruling
to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed. R.
Civ. P. 72(a); L. Civ. R. 72.1(c)(1)(A). The district court is bound by the clearly
erroneous rule as to findings of fact, while the phrase “contrary to law” indicates
plenary review as to matters of law. Haines v. Liggett Group Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 91
(3d Cir. 1992). A finding is considered “clearly erroneous” when, “although there
is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v.
United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948). A decision is considered
contrary to the law if the magistrate judge has “misinterpreted or misapplied
applicable law.” Doe v. Hartford Life Acc. Ins. Co., 237 F.R.D. 545, 548 (D.N.J.
Judge Falk did not err in issuing the March17, 2015 order. Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) defines the appropriate scope of discovery as “regarding
any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense.” This rule
creates a broad range of relevancy which would “encompass any matter that bears
on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that
is or may be in the case.” Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351,
98 S.Ct. 2380, 57 L.Ed.2d 253 (1978); Caver v. City of Trenton, 192 F.R.D. 154,
159 (D.N.J. 2000).
Here, Abdur-Raheem’s deposition clearly falls within the scope of Rule
26(b)(1). Plaintiff claims that the City of East Orange failed to properly assist her
in obtaining protection from crimes that Abdur-Raheem committed. AbdurRaheem has personal knowledge regarding the Plaintiff’s factual allegations.
Further, Abdur-Raheem has personal knowledge regarding the allegations he
advances in his counterclaim and various other filings. The Court thus finds no
mistake with Judge Falk’s order. Instead, the Court expresses a “definite and firm
conviction” that no mistake has been committed.
For the above reasons, Abdur-Raheem’s appeal is DENIED, and Judge
Falk’s March 17, 2015 order is AFFIRMED. An appropriate order follows.
/s/ William J. Martini
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Date: June 11, 2015
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