May v. Levy et al
ORDER denying 29 Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. For the reasons set forth in the attached Order, Plaintiff's request for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction is respectfull y DENIED. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken in good faith and, therefore, in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of any appeal. Coppedge v. United States, 369 U. S. 438, 44445 (1962). Counsel for the Nassau County Defendants is respectfully directed to serve pro se Plaintiff both at the facility and at her last known address and note service on the docket. Ordered by Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto on 7/29/2022. (Ahn, Lois)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
SERENA A. MAY,
21-CV-3586 (KAM) (LB)
-againstSTUART LEVY, EDWIN J. HOLMES,
CHRISTOPHER LEE, RYAN OSWALD,
and VINCENT NEEFUS,
KIYO A. MATSUMOTO, United States District Judge.
On May 10, 2021, Plaintiff, Serena A. May, filed the
instant pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendants Stuart Levy, Edwin Holmes, Christopher Lee, Ryan Oswald
(the “Nassau County Defendants”), and Vincent Neefus (together,
(See ECF No. 1, Complaint (“Compl.”).)
14, 2022, counsel for the Nassau County Defendants filed a letter
advising the Court that Plaintiff was found incompetent to stand
trial in her Nassau County criminal proceeding, and was remanded
to a psychiatric facility.
(See ECF No. 27.)
Court stayed this case pending Plaintiff’s release from her remand
to the psychiatric facility.
(See Order dated June 15, 2022.)
On July 19, 2022, Plaintiff filed a request which the
Court liberally construes as a motion for temporary restraining
order and preliminary injunction.
(See ECF No. 29, Plaintiff’s
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s
request for injunctive relief is respectfully DENIED.
On July 19, 2022, Plaintiff filed a request to enjoin
the Assistant District Attorney and the Office of the County
Attorney for the County of Nassau 1 from remanding her to the Nassau
County Correctional Facility.
(See Pl. Mot. at 1‒2.)
Plaintiff states she has been found incompetent to stand
trial due to “retaliatory behavior on the part of the Assistant
District Attorney,” and that she has been detained at the Nassau
County Correctional Facility, not a psychiatric facility, since
June 13, 2022.
Plaintiff argues that because she is being
held against her will, she will likely suffer irreparable harm
unless injunctive relief is granted, and there is no adequate
remedy at law.
Further, Plaintiff contends that granting
interest, as she does not present a danger to herself or others.
Finally, Plaintiff argues that the “New York State Office
of Mental Health and Forensic Services is able to do an order of
commitment on an outpatient basis.”
(Id. at 2.)
Defendants in this action include Defendant Stuart Levy, who, according to
counsel for the Nassau County Defendants, is no longer at the Nassau County
District Attorney’s Office.
(See ECF No. 30, Nassau County Attorney’s
Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
Injunction (“Nassau Cnty. Att’y Opp.”), at 2.) The Office of the County Attorney
for the County of Nassau represents the Nassau County Defendants but is not
itself a party, and would not be a proper party in this action.
The Court subsequently issued an order directing any
temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction by July 21,
On July 21, 2022, the attorney for the Nassau County
Defendants filed a letter in opposition to Plaintiff’s request,
contending that Plaintiff is “not entitled to the injunctive relief
she seeks in this action and has failed to accurately set forth
the relevant facts surrounding her pending criminal matter.”
Nassau Cnty. Att’y Opp. at 1.)
Specifically, counsel clarified
that upon being found not competent to stand trial, Plaintiff was
committed to the custody of the Commissioner of the New York State
Office of Mental Health (“OMH”) for care and treatment, and is
currently waiting to be transferred to a psychiatric facility.
(Id. at 1‒2; see ECF No. 30-2, June 13, 2022 Competency Hearing
Transcript (“June Hr’g Tr.”), at 28:20‒29:2 (“So, based upon what
I’ve seen and listened to, it appears to my satisfaction that the
defendant, as a result of mental disease or defect, lacks capacity
to understand the proceedings against her and assist in her own
defense, and therefore, the defendant is hereby adjudicated an
incapacitated person and is committed to the custody and [sic]
commissioner of OMH of [sic] care and treatment so that she can be
restored and thereafter be able to proceed to trial.”).)
counsel asserts that the competency hearing was held at the request
of Plaintiff’s counsel in the criminal proceeding, Jeffrey Groder,
(Nassau Cnty. Att’y Opp. at 1.)
Finally, counsel for the Nassau County Defendants also
“unrelated to any relief that plaintiff may ultimately be entitled
to” in the instant action because the Nassau County Attorney’s
Office does not have jurisdiction over the criminal proceedings
against Plaintiff, and “there is no nexus between this lawsuit and
the competency hearing that took place in the criminal proceeding.”
(Id. at 2.) 2
challenges the validity of her confinement, appears more akin to
a habeas petition, rather than a Section 1983 action.
And to the
extent that Plaintiff seeks her release from confinement, a Section
1983 action in this Court is not the proper vehicle for such
See Garcia v. Westchester Cnty. Dist. Attorney’s Off.,
No. 21-cv-00348(LLS), 2021 WL 411546, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 4, 2021)
(“A plaintiff may not challenge the validity of his confinement or
seek release from custody in a civil action under § 1983, but must
instead bring a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to seek such
relief,” after “exhausting his available state-court remedies.”)
2 The Court has also considered Plaintiff’s letter, dated
filed on the docket on July 21, 2022, realleging the
circumstances of her false arrest and excessive force claims
and asserting that she is being held because she initiated
1983 action against Defendants. (See ECF No. 31.)
July 10, 2022, and
the instant Section
appropriate vehicle for such relief is a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.”
Nieves v. Ward, No. 22-
cv-1382(LTS), 2022 WL 623896, at *3 (Mar. 3, 2022).
Furthermore, to the extent Plaintiff is seeking to have
this Court intervene in a pending state criminal proceeding,
Plaintiff’s request is precluded by Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
Under the Younger abstention doctrine, federal courts may
not interfere with pending state criminal prosecutions, absent
extraordinary circumstances suggesting bad faith, harassment, or
irreparable injury that is both serious and immediate.
See id. at
49; see also Diamond “D” Const. Corp. v. McGowan, 282 F.3d 191,
198 (2d Cir. 2002) (“Younger generally requires federal courts to
proceedings.”); Hansel v. Town Court, 56 F.3d 391, 393 (2d Cir.
1995) (Younger abstention applies to claims for injunctive and
The Second Circuit has held that “Younger abstention is
appropriate when: 1) there is an ongoing state proceeding; 2) an
important state interest is implicated; and 3) the plaintiff has
an avenue open for review of constitutional claims in the state
Hansel v. Springfield, 56 F.3d 391, 393 (2d Cir. 1995),
cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1012 (1995).
Here, the criminal case
against Plaintiff is still pending, (see June Hr’g Tr. at 28:20‒
29:2 (“. . . therefore, the defendant is hereby . . . committed to
the custody and [sic] commissioner of OMH of [sic] care and
treatment so that she can be restored and thereafter be able to
proceed to trial.”)), New York has an important state interest in
enforcing its criminal laws, and Plaintiff’s remedy for erroneous
decisions in her criminal proceeding, should there be any, “would
be via the state-court appellate process, not via this Court’s
Weinstein v. Miller, No. 21-cv-4543(CS), 2021 WL
3038370, at *4 (July 15, 2021).
See Nelson v. Hynes, No. 14–cv–
603(KAM), 2014 WL 652419 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 19, 2014) (liberally
construing plaintiff’s habeas petition also as a Section 1983
action and dismissing claims arising from his pending criminal
case challenging, inter alia, the state court’s order of competency
examinations); Nelson v. Thompson, No. 14–cv–3414(KAM), 2014 WL
3882322, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 7, 2014) (“To the extent that the
determinations made by the state court, these claims are precluded
by Younger.”); Weinstein v. Vill. of Briarcliff Manor, No. 21-cv1996(CS), 2021 WL 1063763, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 17, 2021) (“Here,
Plaintiff asks the Court to intervene in her ongoing criminal
conclusory assertions of retaliation and conspiracy, Plaintiff has
The Court will therefore not intervene in
Plaintiff’s ongoing state-court proceedings and denies her motions
for emergency injunctive relief.
Plaintiff’s remedy, if the state
court erred, lies with the state appellate process.”).
Here, other than her conclusory assertion that she is
being confined in retaliation for initiating the instant federal
action against Defendants, Plaintiff has alleged no facts showing
bad faith, harassment, or irreparable injury with respect to her
state criminal and related competency proceedings.
the Court respectfully declines to intervene in those proceedings
and denies Plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief under the
Younger abstention doctrine.
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken in good faith and,
therefore, in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of
Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444‒45
Counsel for the Nassau County Defendants is respectfully
directed to serve pro se Plaintiff both at the facility and at her
July 29, 2022
Brooklyn, New York
HON. KIYO A. MATSUMOTO
United States District Judge
Eastern District of New York
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