United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ANTHONY W. ROGERS, Plaintiff,
ALEXANDER TOLNAY, ET AL. Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
W. Thompson United States District Judge
October 11, 2018, the plaintiff, Anthony W. Rogers, an inmate
currently housed at the Garner Correctional Institution in
Newtown, Connecticut, filed a complaint pro se pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages against five Norwalk
Police Department (“NPD”) officials (Detective
Alexander Tolnay, Sergeant Arthur Weisgerber, Sergeant N.
Alicea, Lieutenant Ernest Vitarbo, and Chief Harry Rilling),
three state prosecutors (James Bernardi, David I. Cohen, and
Joseph Valdes), and one state public defender (John Walkley).
Compl. [Doc.#1]. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants
violated his rights under the United States Constitution and
Connecticut Constitution by fabricating evidence, failing to
disclose and/or present exculpatory evidence, and failing to
otherwise follow proper police protocol during the
investigation and prosecution of his state criminal case.
court dismissed the complaint on October 30, 2018 after
concluding that the plaintiff's claims were barred by
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). See Initial
Review Order [Doc.#8]. Under Heck, where a judgment in favor
of a plaintiff would necessarily implicate the validity of
his conviction or length of sentence, a cause of action under
§ 1983 is not cognizable unless the plaintiff can show
that his underlying “conviction or sentence had been
reversed on direct appeal, declared invalid by a state
tribunal authorized to make such a determination, or called
into question by the issuance of a federal writ of habeas
corpus.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. It appeared that the
plaintiff previously raised his § 1983 claims in a state
habeas corpus petition, which was denied, and the denial was
upheld on appeal. See Initial Review Order at 3 (citing
Rogers v. Commissioner of Correction, 174 Conn.App.
120, 165 A.3d 264, cert. denied, 327 Conn. 929, 171 A.3d 455
(2017)). Because the plaintiff did not show that his criminal
convictions had been reversed, invalidated, or called into
question by federal writ of habeas corpus, the court ruled
that it lacked jurisdiction over his claims.
November 14, 2018, the plaintiff filed the instant motion for
reconsideration of the court's Initial Review Order. He
contends that Heck does not bar his claims for unlawful
arrest and due process because (1) he has already served his
sentence for two of his convictions and (2) the claims do not
implicate his murder conviction, the sentence for which he is
still serving. Id. at 2-3. The court does not agree.
motion for reconsideration “generally will be denied
unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or
data that the court overlooked--matters, in other words, that
might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached
by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc.,
70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). “[T]he function of a
motion for reconsideration is to present the court with an
opportunity to correct ‘manifest errors of law or fact
to consider newly discovered evidence.'”
LoSacco v. City of Middletown, 822 F.Supp. 870,
876-77 (D. Conn. 1993) (quoting Rothwell Cotton Co. v.
Rosenthal & Co., 827 F.2d 246, 251 (7th Cir. 1987),
aff'd, 33 F.3d 50 (2d Cir. 1994)). “[A] motion for
reconsideration may not be used to plug gaps in an original
argument or to argue in the alternative once a decision has
been made.” Horsehead Resource Dev. Co., Inc. v.
B.U.S. Envtl. Serv., Inc., 928 F.Supp. 287, 289
(S.D.N.Y. 1996) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
plaintiff has not cited any precedent, and the court is not
aware of any, supporting the position that Heck does not bar
§ 1983 claims challenging a criminal conviction once the
litigant has finished serving his sentence for that
conviction. Even if the plaintiff has finished serving his
sentence for two of his convictions, a ruling in his favor
would nevertheless impugn the validity of those convictions
because his claims pertain to the state's investigation
and his criminal trial. See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544
U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005) (state prisoner's § 1983
action is barred no matter what relief sought, no matter the
target of prisoner's suit, if success in action would
necessarily demonstrate invalidity of conviction or
duration); see also Marshall v. U.S. Postal Inspection
Service, No. 3:08-CV-1889 (JCH), 2016 WL 10571889, at *5
(D. Conn. Nov. 7, 2016) (“[w]rongful arrest or
prosecution, if proven, would invalidate any conviction
resulting from that arrest or prosecution”). Indeed, to
prevail on a claim of unlawful arrest, a plaintiff must show
that the prosecution against him terminated in his favor. See
McKay v. East Hartford Police Department, No.
3:16-CV-01954 (JAM), 2017 WL 4247383, at *3 (D. Conn.
Sep. 25, 2017). Thus, the fact that the plaintiff already
finished serving his sentence on two of the convictions
implicated by his claims does not exempt his claim from the
holding in Heck.
plaintiff's argument that his claims only implicate his
“murder trial” and not his “murder
conviction” lacks merit. His claims that the defendants
fabricated evidence, failed to disclose and/or present
exculpatory evidence, and failed to conduct a proper
investigation directly implicate the investigation, trial and
verdict in his criminal case. The injury for which the
plaintiff seeks redress is the convictions that were a result
of the defendants' alleged actions before and during his
trial. A ruling in his favor on any of these claims would
necessarily call into question the validity of those
Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90 (1980) and Haring v.
Prosise, 462 U.S. 306 (1983), cases upon which the
plaintiff relies, were decided before Heck and do not support
his position. In Allen, 449 U.S. at 104-05, the Supreme Court
reversed a decision that the plaintiff's inability to
obtain federal habeas corpus relief on his Fourth Amendment
claims rendered the collateral estoppel doctrine
inapplicable. The Court held that federal courts must afford
deference to state court judgments deciding issues of federal
rights notwithstanding the enactment of § 1983. In
Haring, 462 U.S. at 316-17, the Supreme Court held that
collateral estoppel would not bar a § 1983 claim
regarding an unconstitutional search, which was not decided
in the plaintiff's state criminal proceedings. While it
is true that Heck does not necessarily bar Fourth Amendment
claims for unlawful searches, see McKitchen v.
Brown, 481 F.3d 89, 102 (2d Cir. 2007), there is no
claim for an unlawful search stated in this plaintiff's
complaint, nor are there any factual allegations to support
such a claim.
on the foregoing, the plaintiff has not shown that there are
controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked that
might reasonably be expected to alter the court's
decision to dismiss the complaint. The plaintiff's §
1983 claims are barred by Heck and the ...