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Morales v. Weiss

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 19, 2016



          Warren W. Eginton Senior U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Santos Morales asserts this civil rights action against defendants City of Stamford Police Officers Richard Phelan, and Andrew Czubatyi; and Connecticut State prosecutors Steven Weiss and Mitchell Rubin.

         Defendants Weiss and Rubin have filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis of prosecutorial immunity.


         Defendants Weiss and Rubin have submitted a statement of material facts in compliance with the Local Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff Morales, who is represented by counsel, has filed an affidavit signed by his counsel.[1] The Court has culled the following factual background from the allegations of the complaint and the parties’ evidentiary submissions on this motion for summary judgment.

         Plaintiff is a citizen of Guatemala who, at the time relevant to this action, was residing as an undocumented alien in the City of Stamford, Connecticut. According to the allegations of the complaint, on the evening of August 31, 2008, plaintiff was in a restaurant when someone he knew pulled out a gun and confronted another patron. Plaintiff allegedly wrested the gun from the individual and exited the restaurant. The Stamford Police, including defendants Phelan and Czubatyi, allegedly tasered, and kicked plaintiff while he was on the ground. Plaintiff was later charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and taken into state custody.

         Defendant Weiss is a Supervisory State’s Attorney and Rubin is a Deputy State’s Attorney in Stamford. Weiss avers that, as a law enforcement official, it was within the scope of his duties to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) with regard to a criminal defendant whose immigration status may warrant investigation. He states that he had an inspector of the State’s Attorney’s Office contact ICE to check on the plaintiff’s immigration status because the plaintiff had no identification, no social security number and no alien registration number.

         Plaintiff’s attorney, Richard Cunningham, asked Weiss about interviewing certain witnesses. Weiss asserts that Cunningham did not provide him with specific identities or addresses of witnesses; and that he told Cunningham to contact the police.

         Plaintiff alleges that on February 13, 2009, Attorney Cunningham renewed a motion to eliminate bond and hand delivered a copy to defendant Weiss.

         Attorney Cunningham avers that he reviewed the State’s Attorney file, where he found a yellow note signed by defendant Weiss that directed an Assistant State’s Attorney to contact ICE to place a detainer on plaintiff Morales “as a favor.” Cunningham asserts that the file indicated that this request occurred after ICE had already expressed that it was not interested in placing a detainer on plaintiff but prior to a March 26, 2009 hearing, at which time bond was reduced from $50, 000 to $1, 000.

         On February 19, 2009, an ICE detainer was placed on Morales and his deportation was ordered. Plaintiff was placed in the custody of ICE from June 19, 2009 through September 8, 2009. Thereafter, plaintiff was held in the custody of the Department of Correction until April 5, 2011.

         On April 1, 2011, defendant Rubin nolled all charges against plaintiff. By affidavit, Rubin avers that the charges were nolled because plaintiff had been in custody for more than two years, and plaintiff would likely have received no more than a one-year sentence of incarceration had the case gone to trial.

         This Court dismissed the Section 1983 claims against defendants Weiss and Rubin on the grounds of prosecutorial immunity. On appeal, the Second Circuit concluded “that the district court erred in dismissing Morales’s claims against prosecutors Weiss and Rubin without affording plaintiff the opportunity to amend his pro se complaint to allege sufficient facts that those defendants acted outside the scope of their roles as prosecutors and, thus, were not shielded by absolute immunity.” Plaintiff was, in fact, represented by counsel during the proceedings before the district court, although he appeared pro se in proceedings before the Court of Appeals.

         After remand to this Court, plaintiff amended his complaint. The discovery deadline has passed. Plaintiff is represented by the same counsel who ...

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