United States District Court, D. Connecticut
A. Bolden United States District Judge
John Farmer, currently incarcerated at the Osborn
Correctional Institution, filed this complaint pro se under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, on June 28, 2016. Mr. Farmer’s
motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on
July 19, 2016. The defendants are the Connecticut Judicial
Branch, Judge Frank D’Adabbo and Attorney Claude Chong.
Mr. Farmer challenges his conviction and sentence on the
grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel and improper
jury instructions. See ECF No. 1 at 7. Mr. Farmer
seeks damages from the defendants.
Standard of Review
section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, the
Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any
portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief. Id. In reviewing a pro se
complaint, the Court must “liberally construe [the]
pleadings, ” and interpret the complaint to
“raise the strongest arguments it suggests.”
Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007);
see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-03
(2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special solicitude that courts
ought to show to pro se litigants). Although detailed
allegations are not required, the complaint must still
include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice
of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and
to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory
allegations are not sufficient. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
February 17, 2006, Mr. Farmer was found guilty at trial in
New Britain Superior Court. Subsequently, he was sentenced to
the statutory maximum sentence of twenty years. Mr. Farmer
now alleges that Attorney Chong advised him to proceed to
trial without ensuring he understood his maximum exposure if
he were found guilty. He further alleges that, during the
trial, exculpatory evidence was brought to Attorney
Chong’s attention but not used. Finally, Judge
D’Adabbo allegedly permitted this violation of Mr.
Farmer’s rights to occur. He allegedly sentenced Mr.
Farmer to a total term of imprisonment of twenty years,
despite Mr. Farmer bringing his confusion and Attorney
Chong’s misrepresentations to the court’s
attention. Mr. Farmer also alleges that Judge D’Adabbo
improperly failed to give a Salamon instruction to the jury
regarding a kidnapping. ECF No. 1 at 7.
are Public Defender Claude Chong and the Connecticut Judicial
Branch, in particular, the New Britain Superior Court, Judge
judicial officer, Judge D’Adabbo is protected by
judicial immunity. Judges are immune from suit, not just from
the ultimate assessment of damages. See Mirales v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991). Judicial immunity applies
even if “the action [the judge] took was in error, was
done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority.”
Gross v. Rell, 585 F.3d 72, 84 (2d Cir. 2009)
(quoting Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57
(1978)); see also Heath v. Justices of Supreme
Court, 550 F.App'x 64 (2d Cir. 2014) (summary order)
(“Judges when acting in a judicial capacity, are
entitled to absolute immunity” (internal quotation
marks omitted)). Judicial immunity is overcome in only two
situations. A judge is not immune from suit for actions
“not taken in [his] judicial capacity” or for
actions that are judicial in nature but “taken in the
complete absence of all jurisdiction.” See
Mirales, 502 U.S. at 11-12. “[T]he Supreme Court
has generally concluded that acts arising out of, or related
to, individual cases before the judge are considered judicial
in nature.” Bliven v. Hunt, 579 F.3d 204, 210
(2d Cir. 2009). The allegations against Judge D’Adabbo
concern actions taken during a state criminal trial and
sentencing. Thus, neither exception applies. Judge
D’Adabbo is immune from suit. All claims against
defendant D’Adabbo are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
Chong is a state public defender. To state a section 1983
claim, Mr. Farmer must allege that his constitutional or
federally protected rights were violated by a person acting
under color of state law. A person acts under color of state
law when he both exercises “some right or privilege
created by the State” and is “a person who may
fairly be said to be a state actor.” Lugar v.
Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). A
“public defender does not act under color of state law
when performing a lawyer’s traditional functions as
counsel to a defendant in a criminal proceeding.”
Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981). As
Attorney Chong is not a state actor, there is no legal basis
for a section 1983 claim against him. All claims against
Attorney Chong are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Connecticut Judicial Branch, New Britain Superior Court is
the final defendant. State agencies, however, are not
considered persons within the meaning of section 1983.
See Will v. Michigan Dep’t of State Police,
491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (holding that state agency and its
officials are not persons within the meaning of section
1983); Ajamian v. New York, No.
1:13-cv-1316(MAD)(TWD), 2014 WL 3928448, at *6 (N.D.N.Y. Aug.
11, 2014) (“The Second Circuit has held that it is
quite clear that the Appellate Division is not a person
within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” (quoting
Zuckerman v. Appellate Div., Second Dep’t, 421
F.2d 625, 626 (2d Cir. 1970)). As the state court is not a
person, any section 1983 claim against it necessarily fails
and is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
accordance with the foregoing analysis, the court enters ...