United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. DOOLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
August 13, 2018, the plaintiff, Robert Parkman, an inmate
currently confined at the Brooklyn Correctional Institution
in Brooklyn, Connecticut, brought a civil action pro
se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Attorney
William O'Connor, Probation Officer Justin Quick, and an
unidentified supervisory official in the state's Office
of Adult Probation. Compl. (ECF No. 1). He seeks
“mental and emotional relief.” Id. at 6.
On October 9, 2018, this Court granted the plaintiff's
motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 12).
For the following reasons, the complaint is dismissed.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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. Although
detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must
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. 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.” Bell Atlantic, 550
U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that
“[p]ro se complaints ‘must be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of
Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules
of solicitude for pro se litigants).
April 21, 2015, the plaintiff was charged with sexual assault
in the first degree and unlawful restraint in the first
degree. Compl. at 5. He ultimately pleaded guilty
on March 8, 2016 to the unlawful restraint charge and was
sentenced to five years of imprisonment, execution suspended
after one year, and three years of probation. Id.;
Case Detail, State v. Parkman, No.
HHD-CR15-0679258-T (Conn. Super. Ct. Mar. 8, 2016),
(“Case Detail”). Despite pleading guilty only
to the unlawful restraint charge, the plaintiff was placed in
a “special unit” for sexual offenders. Compl. at
plaintiff was released on probation on April 18, 2016 but was
rearrested on August 1, 2016 after he refused to comply with
Probation Officer Quick's order that he “sign
some papers . . . mak[ing] [him] a sex offender.”
Compl. at 5. Quick did not show the plaintiff a copy of the
arrest warrant or present him before a judge. Id.
The plaintiff was returned to the custody of the Department
of Correction. Id.
state charged the plaintiff with violating the terms of his
probation. Compl. at 6. Attorney O'Connor was
appointed to represent him. Compl. at 6. O'Connor told
the plaintiff that, if he pleaded guilty to the violation of
probation charge, he would be “s[e]t free.”
Id. The plaintiff thereafter pleaded guilty to the
charge, and the judge continued his probation. Id.
The judge also ordered that the plaintiff return to the sex
offender “special unit.” Id.
August 23, 2017, the plaintiff pleaded guilty to violating
his probation a second time. Case Detail. This time, the
court sentenced him to three years imprisonment. Id.
His maximum release date is December 28, 2019. Inmate
Information, Connecticut State Department of Correction,
www.ctinmateinfo.state.ct.us/-detailssupv.asp?id_inmt_num=157667. At no time did the
sentencing court inform the plaintiff of the consequences of
pleading guilty to the violation of probation charge, and
Attorney O'Connor coerced the plaintiff into pleading
guilty. Compl. at 6.
plaintiff's incarceration as a result of the violation of
probation proceedings have caused him mental and emotional
distress. Compl. at 6.
it is not clear, it appears that the plaintiff is suing
Officer Quick for placing him in sex offender treatment, in
violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process,
and arresting him without showing him a copy of the arrest
warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. See
Compl. at 5. The plaintiff is suing Attorney O'Connor for
coercing him into pleading guilty to the violation of
probation charge, in violation of his Sixth Amendment right
to effective assistance of counsel and/or his Fourteenth
Amendment right to due process. See Id. at 6. He
claims that the actions of these defendants “ultimately
cost [him] [his] freedom.” Id. The plaintiff
does not allege any facts against the third unidentified
only plausible claim the plaintiff states in this complaint
is the due process claim against Officer Quick and perhaps
Supervisor Doe for placing him in sex offender treatment
following his unlawful restraint conviction. The Second
Circuit has held that the improper classification of an
inmate as a sex offender may have a stigmatizing effect which
implicates a liberty interest for purposes of due process.
Vega v. Lantz, 596 F.3d 77, 81-82 (2d Cir. 2010). In
Vega, an inmate claimed that prison officials
wrongfully assigned him a level-3 sexual treatment needs
score even though he had not been convicted of a sexual
offense. Id. The Second Circuit considered
Vega's claim as one of defamation but held that, although
typically a state-law claim, defamation may, under certain
circumstances, rise to constitutional dimension. Id.
order to state a constitutional claim, the plaintiff must
“demonstrate a stigmatizing statement plus a
deprivation of a tangible interest.” Vega, 596
F.3d at 81 (quoting Algarin v. Town o Wallkill, 421
F.3d 137, 138 (2d Cir. 2005)); see also Moore v.
Chapdelaine, No. 3:15-CV-775 (VAB), 2018 WL 638995, at
*6 (D. Conn. Jan. 31, 2018). This claim as two components.
“First, the plaintiff must establish the
‘stigma' by demonstrating ‘the utterance of a
statement sufficiently derogatory to injure his or her
reputation that is capable of being proved false, and that he
or she claims is false.'” Moore, 2018 WL
638995, at *6 (quoting Vega, 596 F.3d at 81).
“Second, the plaintiff must demonstrate the
‘plus,' ‘a material state-imposed burden or
state-imposed alteration of the plaintiff's status or
rights.'” Id. (quoting Vega, 596
F.3d at 81). “The ‘plus' must be something
‘in addition to the stigmatizing statement.'”