United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Richardson Victor is currently incarcerated at Brooklyn
Correctional Institution and has filed a pro se
Complaint, presumably pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
against Defendants Robert E. Byron and the state of
Connecticut. Doc. 1 ("Compl."). Plaintiff
alleges that Byron, who is either a public defender or an
appointed attorney in the state of Connecticut, violated his
due process rights by withdrawing the appeal in
Plaintiff's criminal case without Plaintiff's
knowledge or consent. Id. ¶¶ 3, 7;
id. at 18, 27. For the following reasons, his
Complaint is dismissed in full.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint and dismiss any portion that
"(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2) (2012).
Although highly detailed allegations are not required, the
complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on
its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The complaint must provide
"more than the unadorned,
Id. "A pleading that offers 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'"
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will
[ultimately] . . . be a context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663-64. When
"well-pleaded factual allegations" are present,
"a court should assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief." Id. at 679. Factual disputes do not
factor into a plausibility analysis under Iqbal and
all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be
true, this tenet is 'inapplicable to legal
conclusions.'" LaMagna v. Brown, 474
Fed.Appx. 788, 789 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678). See also Amaker v. New York State Dept.
of Corr. Servs., 435 Fed.Appx. 52, 54 (2d Cir. 2011)
(same). Accordingly, the Court is not "bound to accept
conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as
factual conclusions." Faber v. Metro. Life Ins.
Co., 648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Rolon
v. Henneman, 517 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal
quotation marks omitted)). Consequently, "[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).
respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established
that "[p]ro se submissions are
reviewed with special solicitude, and 'must be construed
liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments
that they suggest.'" Matheson v. Deutsche Bank
Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017)
(quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470
F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)). See also
Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir.
2013) (same); Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90,
101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude
for pro se litigants); Boykin v. KeyCorp.,
521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) ("A document filed
pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro
se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.") (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007)); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed
Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (declaring
that where the plaintiff proceeds pro se, a court is
"obliged to construe his pleadings liberally")
(quoting McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200
(2d Cir. 2004)); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639
(2d Cir. 2007) ("In reviewing a pro se
complaint, the court must assume the truth of the
allegations, and interpret them liberally to "raise the
strongest arguments [they] suggest.").
being subject to liberal interpretation, a pro se
plaintiff's complaint still must "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Mancuso v.
Hynes, 379 Fed.Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, even in a
pro se case, "threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice." Chavis v.
Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). Nor may the Court
"invent factual allegations" that the plaintiff has
not pleaded. Id.
factual allegations, accepted as true only for the purposes
of this Order, are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and
November 22, 2013, a Connecticut state court sentenced
Plaintiff in a criminal proceeding. Compl. ¶ 2.
Defendant Robert E. Byron presumably represented Plaintiff on
appeal, for which a motion was filed on February 28, 2014.
Id. ¶ 2; id. at 18. Plaintiff
identifies Byron as a "special public defender,"
id. at 27, but the Office of the Chief Public
Defender in Connecticut calls Byron "the lawyer who was
appointed to represent [Plaintiff] on direct appeal,"
id. at 18.
brief was due to the appellate court on September 12, 2014,
and oral arguments had been scheduled for May 8, 2015.
Id. ¶¶ 4, 5. However, on May 8, 2015,
Plaintiff received a letter from Byron indicating that Byron
did not file a reply brief because he did not believe he had
"a good faith basis to continue to prosecute the
appeal." Id. at 14. Moreover, he had withdrawn
Plaintiff's appeal. Id. ¶ 6; id.
appears to have acted without Plaintiff's knowledge or
consent. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff was also never
informed whether the appellate court had granted Byron's
request to withdraw the appeal until he received a letter
from the Office of the Chief State's Attorney in
Connecticut on April 28, 2016, stating that the appellate
court had accepted Byron's withdrawal and closed the case
on May 8, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 7, 9; id.
at 12. Byron's withdrawal appears to have stymied
Plaintiff's other pro se attempts to file other
motions to challenge his criminal conviction as well. See
Id. at 37-41.
alleges that Byron's actions constitute a violation of
his due process rights. Id. ¶ 10. In addition,
Plaintiff implicates the state of Connecticut on the basis
that "[s]ince Robert E. Byron, a special public
defender, is an extension of the State of Connecticut, the
state is liable for his ...