Holmes v. City of New York

Filing 8

ORDER TO AMEND: Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint that complies with the standards set forth above. Plaintiff must submit the amended complaint to this Courts Pro Se Intake Unit within 60 days of the date of this order, ca ption the document as an "Amended Complaint," and label the document with docket number 21-CV-10628 (LTS). An Amended Civil Rights Complaint form is attached to this order. No summons will issue at this time. If Plaintiff fails to com ply within the time allowed, and he cannot show good cause to excuse such failure, the complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The Court certifies under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith, and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of an appeal. Cf. Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962) (holding that an appellant demonstrates good faith when he seeks review of a nonfrivolous issue). The Court directs the Clerk of Court to mail a copy of this order to Plaintiff and note service on the docket. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Laura Taylor Swain on 1/10/22) (rdz) Transmission to Docket Assistant Clerk for processing.

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Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 1 of 14 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK STANLEY HOLMES, Plaintiff, -against- 21-CV-10628 (LTS) ORDER TO AMEND CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant. LAURA TAYLOR SWAIN, Chief United States District Judge: Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Great Meadow Correctional Facility, brings this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He sues the City of New York, alleging that his New York County conviction for criminal possession of a weapon was overturned on appeal, and that those charges were eventually dismissed. By order dated January 4, 2022, the Court granted Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP), that is, without prepayment of fees. 1 For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint within 60 days of the date of this order. STANDARD OF REVIEW The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires that federal courts screen complaints brought by prisoners who seek relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a prisoner’s in forma pauperis complaint, or any portion of the complaint, that 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. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b); see Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 1 Prisoners are not exempt from paying the full filing fee even when they have been granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 2 of 14 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court must also dismiss a complaint if the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). While the law mandates dismissal on any of these grounds, the court is obliged to construe pro se pleadings liberally, Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009), and interpret them to raise the “strongest [claims] that they suggest,” Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted) (emphasis in original). But the “special solicitude” in pro se cases, id. at 475 (citation omitted), has its limits – to state a claim, pro se pleadings still must comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires a complaint to make a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. BACKGROUND On June 30, 2016, Plaintiff Stanley Holmes was convicted in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. He was sentenced, as a persistent violent felony offender, to a term of 16 years’ to life imprisonment. 2 See People v. Holmes, 170 A.D.3d 532 (2019). On appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the conviction. Id. The Appellate Division held that the court erred at the suppression hearing in holding that defendant Holmes lacked standing to move to suppress evidence of the pistol because it was recovered from the ground. The Appellate Division First Department remanded the matter for a 2 According to public records of the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision, Plaintiff is currently serving a sentence of 16 years’ to life imprisonment for a 2016 conviction on charges of burglary and bail jumping, both in the second degree. 2 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 3 of 14 determination of an issue that had been raised at the suppression hearing but not addressed – that is, whether the police had reasonable suspicion to stop and frisk Holmes. The Appellate Division further held that the trial court had improperly precluded defense counsel from cross-examining the eyewitness police officer about allegations previously raised in a federal civil rights action against that officer. According to the Appellate Division, the trial court had not provided any justification (such as the potential for jury confusion), for its exercise of discretion to preclude cross-examination about previous bad acts by the police officer. Because the error was not harmless, the Appellate Division ordered a new trial – the fourth trial on these charges. Plaintiff brings this suit for damages against the City of New York, invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff’s factual allegations, in their entirety, are as follows: I was arrested for C.P.W. 2nd degree, resulted from a car stop. I had four criminal trials dealing with this case. Four Appellate Judges agree[d] this case should have been reversed. As a result, the criminal possession of a weapon [charge] has been dismissed by the Supreme Court on September 14, 2021. (Compl., ECF 2 at 4.) A. DISCUSSION Claims Against City of New York When a plaintiff sues a municipality under section 1983, it is not enough for the plaintiff to allege that one of the municipality’s employees or agents engaged in some wrongdoing. The plaintiff must show that the municipality itself caused the violation of the plaintiff’s rights. See Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 60 (2011) (“A municipality or other local government may be liable under this section [1983] if the governmental body itself ‘subjects’ a person to a deprivation of rights or ‘causes’ a person ‘to be subjected’ to such deprivation.”) quoting Monell 3 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 4 of 14 v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 692 (1978)); Cash v. Cnty. of Erie, 654 F.3d 324, 333 (2d Cir. 2011))). In other words, to state a section 1983 claim against a municipality, such as the City of New York, the plaintiff must allege facts showing a violation of his constitutional rights and, to support the claim against the municipality, (1) the existence of a municipal policy, custom, or practice, and (2) that the policy, custom, or practice caused the violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Jones v. Town of East Haven, 691 F.3d 72, 80 (2d Cir. 2012); see Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs of Bryan Cnty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997) (internal citations omitted). Here, Plaintiff’s allegations that criminal charges against him were ultimately dismissed are insufficient to show how a policy, custom, or practice of the City of New York caused a violation of his rights. Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to plead facts showing that a policy, custom, or practice of the City of New York caused a violation of his federal civil rights. B. Potential Claims Arising From Arrest The mere fact that a conviction is reversed, or that someone is arrested but ultimately not convicted, does not in itself mean that a police officer’s arrest of the individual was unlawful. To state a section 1983 claim for false arrest in New York State, a plaintiff must allege that: “(1) the defendant intended to confine [the plaintiff], (2) the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement, (3) the plaintiff did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged.” Liranzo v. United States, 690 F.3d 78, 95 (2d Cir. 2012). An arrest is privileged if it is based on probable cause. Jenkins v. City of New York, 478 F.3d 76, 84 (2d Cir. 2007) (“The existence of probable cause to arrest constitutes justification and is a complete defense to an action for false arrest.” (quoting Weyant v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 852 (2d Cir. 1996))) (internal quotation marks omitted). 4 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 5 of 14 Officers have probable cause to arrest when they have “knowledge or reasonably trustworthy information of facts and circumstances that are sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution in the belief that the person to be arrested has committed . . . a crime.” Jaegly v. Couch, 439 F.3d 149, 152 (2d Cir. 2006). Thus, if “the facts known by the arresting officer at the time of the arrest objectively provided probable cause to arrest,” the arrest is privileged, and the plaintiff cannot state a claim for false arrest. Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 152 (2004). “Probable cause can exist even where it is based on mistaken information, so long as the arresting officer acted reasonably and in good faith in relying on that information.” Bernard v. United States, 25 F.3d 98, 102 (2d Cir. 1994); Rheingold v. Harrison Town Police Dep't, 568 F. Supp. 2d 384, 389 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (“The evidence required to establish probable cause to arrest need not reach the level of evidence necessary to support a conviction.” (quotations and citation omitted)). Plaintiff’s complaint does not include any facts suggesting that his arrest was wrongful. Moreover, even if Plaintiff had pleaded that he was wrongfully arrested, such a claim must be brought against the individual(s) who were personally involved because, as set forth above, a municipality such as the City of New York is only responsible under section 1983 for its own acts in causing a violation of a plaintiff’s federal rights. LEAVE TO AMEND Plaintiff proceeds in this matter without the benefit of an attorney. District courts generally should grant a self-represented plaintiff an opportunity to amend a complaint to cure its defects, unless amendment would be futile. See Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 123-24 (2d Cir. 2011); Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). Indeed, the Second Circuit has cautioned that district courts “should not dismiss [a pro se complaint] without granting leave to amend at least once when a liberal reading of the complaint gives any indication that a valid 5 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 6 of 14 claim might be stated.” Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Gomez v. USAA Fed. Sav. Bank, 171 F.3d 794, 795 (2d Cir. 1999)). Because Plaintiff may be able to allege additional facts to state a valid claim, the Court grants Plaintiff 60 days’ leave to amend his complaint to detail his claims. Plaintiff is granted leave to amend his complaint to provide more facts about his claims. First, Plaintiff must name as the defendant(s) in the caption and in the statement of claim those individuals who were allegedly involved in the deprivation of his federal rights. If Plaintiff does not know the name of a defendant, he may refer to that individual as “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” in both the caption and the body of the amended complaint. 3 The naming of “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” defendants, however, does not toll the three-year statute of limitations period governing this action and Plaintiff shall be responsible for ascertaining the true identity of any “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” defendants and amending his complaint to include the identity of any “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” defendants before the statute of limitations period expires. Should Plaintiff seek to add a new claim or party after the statute of limitations period has expired, he must meet the requirements of Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In the “Statement of Claim” section of the amended complaint form, Plaintiff must provide a short and plain statement of the relevant facts supporting each claim against each defendant. If Plaintiff has an address for any named defendant, Plaintiff must provide it. Plaintiff should include all of the information in the amended complaint that Plaintiff wants the Court to consider in deciding whether the amended complaint states a claim for relief. That information should include: 3 For example, a defendant may be identified as: “Correction Officer John Doe #1 on duty August 31, 2020, at Sullivan Correctional Facility, during the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift.” 6 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 7 of 14 a) the names and titles of all relevant people; b) a description of all relevant events, including what each defendant did or failed to do, the approximate date and time of each event, and the general location where each event occurred; c) a description of the injuries Plaintiff suffered; and d) the relief Plaintiff seeks, such as money damages, injunctive relief, or declaratory relief. Essentially, Plaintiff’s amended complaint should tell the Court: who violated his federally protected rights; how, when, and where such violations occurred; and why Plaintiff is entitled to relief. Because Plaintiff’s amended complaint will completely replace, not supplement, the original complaint, any facts or claims that Plaintiff wants to include from the original complaint must be repeated in the amended complaint. CONCLUSION Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint that complies with the standards set forth above. Plaintiff must submit the amended complaint to this Court’s Pro Se Intake Unit within 60 days of the date of this order, caption the document as an “Amended Complaint,” and label the document with docket number 21-CV-10628 (LTS). An Amended Civil Rights Complaint form is attached to this order. No summons will issue at this time. If Plaintiff fails to comply within the time allowed, and he cannot show good cause to excuse such failure, the complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The Court certifies under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith, and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of an 7 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 8 of 14 appeal. Cf. Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962) (holding that an appellant demonstrates good faith when he seeks review of a nonfrivolous issue). The Court directs the Clerk of Court to mail a copy of this order to Plaintiff and note service on the docket. SO ORDERED. Dated: January 10, 2022 New York, New York /s/ Laura Taylor Swain LAURA TAYLOR SWAIN Chief United States District Judge 8 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 9 of 14 U NITED S TATES D ISTRICT C OURT S OUTHERN D ISTRICT OF N EW Y ORK _____CV_______________ (Include case number if one has been assigned) Write the full name of each plaintiff. AMENDED -against- COMPLAINT (Prisoner) Do you want a jury trial? ☐ Yes ☐ No Write the full name of each defendant. If you cannot fit the names of all of the defendants in the space provided, please write “see attached” in the space above and attach an additional sheet of paper with the full list of names. The names listed above must be identical to those contained in Section IV. NOTICE The public can access electronic court files. For privacy and security reasons, papers filed with the court should therefore not contain: an individual’s full social security number or full birth date; the full name of a person known to be a minor; or a complete financial account number. A filing may include only: the last four digits of a social security number; the year of an individual’s birth; a minor’s initials; and the last four digits of a financial account number. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2. Rev. 5/20/16 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 10 of 14 I. LEGAL BASIS FOR CLAIM State below the federal legal basis for your claim, if known. This form is designed primarily for prisoners challenging the constitutionality of their conditions of confinement; those claims are often brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (against state, county, or municipal defendants) or in a “Bivens” action (against federal defendants). ☐ Violation of my federal constitutional rights ☐ Other: II. PLAINTIFF INFORMATION Each plaintiff must provide the following information. Attach additional pages if necessary. First Name Middle Initial Last Name State any other names (or different forms of your name) you have ever used, including any name you have used in previously filing a lawsuit. Prisoner ID # (if you have previously been in another agency’s custody, please specify each agency and the ID number (such as your DIN or NYSID) under which you were held) Current Place of Detention Institutional Address County, City III. State Zip Code PRISONER STATUS Indicate below whether you are a prisoner or other confined person: ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐ Pretrial detainee Civilly committed detainee Immigration detainee Convicted and sentenced prisoner Other: Page 2 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 11 of 14 IV. DEFENDANT INFORMATION To the best of your ability, provide the following information for each defendant. If the correct information is not provided, it could delay or prevent service of the complaint on the defendant. Make sure that the defendants listed below are identical to those listed in the caption. Attach additional pages as necessary. Defendant 1: First Name Last Name Shield # Current Job Title (or other identifying information) Current Work Address County, City State Zip Code Defendant 2: First Name Last Name Shield # Current Job Title (or other identifying information) Current Work Address County, City State Zip Code Defendant 3: First Name Last Name Shield # Current Job Title (or other identifying information) Current Work Address County, City State Zip Code Defendant 4: First Name Last Name Shield # Current Job Title (or other identifying information) Current Work Address County, City State Zip Code Page 3 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 12 of 14 V. STATEMENT OF CLAIM Place(s) of occurrence: Date(s) of occurrence: FACTS: State here briefly the FACTS that support your case. Describe what happened, how you were harmed, and how each defendant was personally involved in the alleged wrongful actions. Attach additional pages as necessary. Page 4 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 13 of 14 INJURIES: If you were injured as a result of these actions, describe your injuries and what medical treatment, if any, you required and received. VI. RELIEF State briefly what money damages or other relief you want the court to order. Page 5 Case 1:21-cv-10628-LTS Document 8 Filed 01/10/22 Page 14 of 14 VII. PLAINTIFF’S CERTIFICATION AND WARNINGS By signing below, I certify to the best of my knowledge, information, and belief that: (1) the complaint is not being presented for an improper purpose (such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation); (2) the claims are supported by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument to change existing law; (3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and (4) the complaint otherwise complies with the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. I understand that if I file three or more cases while I am a prisoner that are dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim, I may be denied in forma pauperis status in future cases. I also understand that prisoners must exhaust administrative procedures before filing an action in federal court about prison conditions, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), and that my case may be dismissed if I have not exhausted administrative remedies as required. I agree to provide the Clerk's Office with any changes to my address. I understand that my failure to keep a current address on file with the Clerk's Office may result in the dismissal of my case. Each Plaintiff must sign and date the complaint. Attach additional pages if necessary. If seeking to proceed without prepayment of fees, each plaintiff must also submit an IFP application. Dated First Name Plaintiff’s Signature Middle Initial Last Name Prison Address County, City State Zip Code Date on which I am delivering this complaint to prison authorities for mailing: Page 6

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