SCOTT v. COM. PLEAS CT. OF PHILA. CNTY. et al
MEMORANDUM/OPINION THAT THE COURT WILL GRANT PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISS HIS COMPLAINT. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JAMES KNOLL GARDNER ON 12/23/16. 12/27/16 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE'. (ky, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
COMM. PLEAS CT. OF PHILA. CNTY.
DEC 2 7 2016
Plaintiff Anthony Scott, a prisoner at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, brings
this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
and Michael Clark, the Superintendent of SCI-Albion. Plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma
pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant plaintiff leave to proceed in fornia
pauperis and dismiss his complaint.
The Court understands plaintiff to be alleging that he is currently incarcerated in connection
with a sentence that was illegally imposed by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Specifically, he appears to be alleging that the Court of Common Pleas sentenced him without
jurisdiction and that Superintendent Clark is therefore confining him illegally. A review of
public dockets reflects that plaintiff was convicted of rape and related offenses in the
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and sentenced to seven to fourteen years in prison. See
Commonwealth v. Scott, Docket No. CP-51-CR-0702311-2006 (Phila. Ct. Common Pleas).
Plaintiff also has a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pending in this district. See Scott v.
Clark, E.D. Pa. Civ. A. No. 16-2506. In the instant civil action, plaintiff seeks release from
imprisonment and monetary damages for false imprisonment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Court grants plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he is not
capable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. 1 Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a
claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the
same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to
detenuine whether the complaint contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quotations omitted). The Court may also consider matters of public record. Buck v. Hampton
Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). As plaintiff is proceeding prose, the Court
construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. At.t."y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
"[W]hen 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."
See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). Accordingly, if plaintiff seeks release from
custody, he must pursue his claims in his habeas case rather than a civil rights action.
Furthermore, "to recover damages for allegedly Wlconstitutional conviction or imprisonment,
or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence
invalid, a§ 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct
appeal, expWlged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such
However, as plaintiff is a prisoner subject to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, he will be
obligated to pay the filing fee in instalhnents pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b).
determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus[.]"
Heckv. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (footnote and citation omitted). As plaintiffs
convictions and sentence ha,,e not been reversed, expunged, or otherwise invalidated, his
damages claims are currently not cognizable under§ 1983.
Plaintiff's claims fail for other reasons. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is entitled
to Eleventh Amendment immunity and is not a "person" for purposes of§ 1983. See Will v.
Mich. Dep't ofState Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65-66 (1989); Benn v. First Judicial Dist. of Pa., 426
F.3d 233, 241 (3d Cir. 2005). Furthermore, the complaint fails to allege how Superintendent
Clark is personally responsible for the violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Barkes v.
First Corr. Med, Inc., 766 F.3d 307, 320 (3d Cir. 2014), reversed on other grounds, Taylor v.
Barkes, 135 S. Ct. 2042 (2015).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a
claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Plaintiff will not be given leave to amend
because amendment would be futile. An appropriate order follows, which shall be docketed
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