United States District Court, D. Connecticut
HENRY T. COLLIN, Plaintiff,
STATE OF CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL BRANCH, et al., Defendants.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. Underhill United States District Judge.
T. Collin, currently incarcerated at Osborn Correctional
Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case pro
se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of
Connecticut Judicial Branch, Judge Christine Keller,
Assistant State's Attorney Russell C. Zentner, Attorney
William Henry Paetzold and Attorney Jeffrey Kestenband. For
the reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed with
leave to amend.
section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Rule 8 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A
complaint that includes only “‘labels and
conclusions, ' ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement, '” does not meet the facial
plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)).
Although courts still have an obligation to interpret
“a pro se complaint liberally, ” the
complaint must include sufficient factual allegations to meet
the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations
alleges that, on July 12, 2010, officers falsely arrested
him. Collin provided exculpatory evidence to Attorney
Paetzold to support his innocence with regard to the crimes
for which he was arrested. Collin claims that the evidence
showed that Steven Pelletier was the individual who committed
the crimes. Collin asserts that the attorneys who represented
him were ineffective, the assistant state's attorney
engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, and the judge who
presided at trial was inexperienced. At the conclusion of the
trial, a jury found Collin guilty of multiple counts of
sexual assault in the second degree and risk of injury to a
minor. See State v. Collin, 154 Conn.App. 102, 109
(2014), cert. denied, 315 Conn. 924 (2015). On
September 17, 2012, a judge sentenced Collin to a total
effective sentence of twenty years of imprisonment, execution
suspended after eight years and ten years of
probation. See Id. For relief, Collin seeks
Connecticut Judicial Branch
names the Judicial District of Middlesex within the State of
Connecticut Judicial Branch as a defendant. To state a claim
under section 1983, Collin must allege facts showing that the
defendant, a person acting under color of state law, deprived
him of a federally protected right. See Lugar v.
Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 930 (1982).
are no specific facts asserted with regard to the Judicial
Branch of Connecticut or the Judicial District of Middlesex.
Thus, Collin has not alleged that either entity violated his
federally or constitutionally protected rights. Furthermore,
there are no facts to suggest that the Connecticut Judicial
Branch or the Judicial District of Fairfield is a person for
purposes of section 1983. See Zuckerman v. Appellate
Division, 421 F.2d 625, 626 (2d Cir. 1970) (holding
that, state court, as part of judicial arm of the state, is
not a person within meaning of section 1983). Accordingly,
all claims against the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch -
Judicial District of Middlesex are dismissed as lacking an
arguable legal basis. See 28 U.S.C. §
claims that officers falsely arrested him on July 12, 2010.
The Fourth Amendment's protections include the right to
be free from arrests without probable cause. See Weyant
v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 852 (2d Cir. 1996). “Claims
for false arrest . . ., brought under [Section] 1983 to
vindicate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment right to be
free from unreasonable seizures, are ‘substantially the
same' as claims for false arrest . . . under state
law.” Jocks v. Tavernier, 316 F.3d 128, 134
(2d Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). In a section 1983 action,
the elements of a claim for false arrest are controlled by
state law. See Davis v. Rodriguez, 364 F.3d 424, 433
(2d Cir. 2004).
law defines false arrest or false imprisonment as “the
unlawful restraint by one person of the physical liberty of
another.'” Russo v. City of Bridgeport,
479 F.3d 196, 204 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 818
(2007). Under both Connecticut law and section 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that the prosecution terminated in his
or her favor to state a claim of false arrest. See Miles
v. City of Hartford, 445 F.App'x 379, 383 (2d Cir.
2011) (quoting Roesch v. Otarola, 980 F.2d 850,
853-54 (2d Cir. 1992) (holding district court did not err in
granting summary judgment on false arrest claim because
“the Court [has] expressly held, invoking Connecticut
law, that favorable termination is an element of ‘a
section 1983 sounding in false imprisonment and false
convicted Collin of sexual assault and risk of injury to a
minor stemming from his arrest on July 12, 2010. See
Collin, 154 Conn.App. at 109. Collin does not allege
that his conviction has been overturned or vacated. Because
the criminal matter did not terminate in Collin's favor,
as a matter of law, Collin cannot prevail on a claim of false
arrest and those claims are dismissed.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
names Judge Christine Keller, who presided over his state
criminal case, as a defendant. It is well-established that
judges are immune from damages for civil liability for acts
taken in their judicial capacity. See Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978). This immunity applies
“however erroneous the act may have been, and however
injurious in its consequences it may have proved to the
plaintiff.” Young v. Selsky, 41 F.3d 47, 51
(2d Cir. 1994) (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1102 (1995).
Judicial immunity is overcome in only two situations. A judge
is not immune from suit for actions not taken ...