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Johnson v. Green

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 2, 2019

BRETT M. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
JESSE GREEN, Defendant.


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Brett M. Johnson incarcerated at the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut, filed this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff names one defendant, Detective Jesse Green of the Hadley, Massachusetts Police Department. He contends that the defendant withheld exculpatory evidence and made misleading statements about the plaintiff's clothing and cars to obtain probable cause for his arrest. The plaintiff seeks damages from the defendant in his individual and official capacities.

         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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This requirement applies to all prisoner filings regardless whether the prisoner pays the filing fee. Nicholson v. Lenczewski, 356 F.Supp.2d 157, 159 (D. Conn. 2005) (citing Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam)). Here, the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.

         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 plausible 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when a 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 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         “Although courts must interpret a pro se complaint liberally, the complaint will be dismissed unless it includes sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility.” See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         I. Allegations

         On April 27, 2017 and May 9, 2017, there were break-ins at the Dunkin Donuts in Hadley, Massachusetts. ECF No. 1. ¶ 4. The first resulted in property damage and the theft of $2, 835.48. The second was thwarted by an alarm and resulted IN property damage only. Id. ¶ 5.

         On June 1, 2017, the plaintiff was arrested in Granby, Connecticut for a series of break-ins at Dunkin Donuts shops in several Connecticut towns. Id. ¶ 6. Between June 2, 2017 and June 13, 2017, Defendant Detective Green learned of the plaintiff's arrest. Id. ¶ 7.

         Detective Green obtained the police report for the plaintiff's arrest and, on June 14, 2017, drafted and filed a one-page “Statement of Facts” as a criminal complaint against the plaintiff in the Eastern Hampshire District Court in Massachusetts. Id. ¶ 8. The court found probable cause based on this statement and issued a summons on “two felony counts of B and E, building nighttime for felony and two counts of Vandalize Property.” Id. ¶ 9.

         The plaintiff missed his court date because he was incarcerated in Connecticut. Id. ¶ 10. Between June 14, 2017 and August 31, 2017, a warrant was issued for the plaintiff's arrest and lodged as a detainer in Connecticut. Id. The plaintiff completed the necessary paperwork and, on May 7, 2019, was extradited to Massachusetts and arraigned on the four charges and remanded to the Hampshire County House of Corrections. Id. ¶¶ 11-12.

         Prior to entry of nolle prosequi, the plaintiff learned that Detective Green withheld exculpatory evidence and made intentionally misleading statements about the plaintiff's cars and clothing to show probable cause for his arrest. Id. ¶ 13.

         II. Analysis

         The plaintiff contends that Detective Green violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process by filing false statements against him. He contends that, as a result of the false charges, he faced, for a time, a possible sentence of 46 years in prison and was required to spend 58 days in custody in Massachusetts. The plaintiff also asserts a supplemental claim for violation of Article 10 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

         Section 1391 of Title 28 of the United States Code governs venue for civil actions brought in the federal district courts. A lawsuit may be filed in a judicial district in which the defendant resides, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1), or in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). The plaintiff has named one defendant, a detective from Hadley, Massachusetts. He does not suggest that Detective Green lives in Connecticut. In addition, this action concerns the preparation of a statement used in a Massachusetts state criminal proceeding. The only reference to Connecticut is that Detective Green obtained a police report from Connecticut for use in preparing his statement. Thus, the plaintiff has not alleged facts suggesting that a substantial part of the events occurred in ...

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