Prall v. Bocchini

Decision Date23 September 2011
Docket NumberCivil No. 10-1228 (FLW)
PartiesTORMU E. PRALL, Plaintiff, v. JOSEPH L. BOCCHINI, JR., et al., Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

APPEARANCES:

TORMU E. PRALL, Plaintiff prose

New Jersey State Prison

WOLFSON, District Judge

Plaintiff, Tormu E. Prall ("Plaintiff" or "Prall"), a state inmate confined at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, New Jersey, at the time he submitted the above-captioned Complaint for filing, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis ("IFP"). This matter was administratively terminated by Opinion and Order entered by this Court on August 16, 2010, on the ground that Plaintiff could not proceed IFP pursuant to the three-strike provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). (Docket entry nos. 10 and 11). Plaintiff appealed the Court's Order, and on April 28, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued ajudgment and mandate vacating this Court's April 16, 2010 Order, and remanding the matter for granting of the IFP application (based on a showing of imminent danger under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)), and screening of the Complaint and Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). (Docket entry no. 21).

Accordingly, this Court will direct the Clerk of the Court to reopen this matter, and pursuant to the Third Circuit's ruling, this Court will grant plaintiff's application to proceed IFP, and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint. Further, this Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, to determine whether the action should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the Complaint will proceed in part.

In addition, with respect to Prall's motion for preliminary injunctive relief (Docket entry no. 18), the Court will direct the relevant defendants to respond in writing to this Court, within ten (10) days from the date the accompanying Order is issued, as to plaintiff's allegations of ongoing physical abuse.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his initial Complaint, Prall named the following defendants: Joseph L. Bocchini, Jr., the Mercer CountyProsecutor; Arthur R. Sypek, Jr., Mercer County Counsel; Charles Ellis, Warden of the Mercer County Correctional Center ("MCCC"); Phyllis Oliver, Internal Affairs Investigator at MCCC; and Michelle R. Ricci, Administrator of the New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP"). (Complaint at Caption and ¶¶ 3-7). On July 1, 2010, Prall submitted an Amended Complaint (Docket entry no. 5) adding the following defendants: Teresa Blair, Attorney General for the State of New Jersey; Brian Hughes, Mercer County Executive; Kelvin S. Ganges, Mercer County Chief of Staff; Andrew A. Mair, Mercer County Administrator; Joseph P. Blaney, Assistant Mercer County Counsel; Sarah G. Crowley, Deputy County Counsel; Sgt. J. McCall at MCCC; E. William, Correctional Officer at MCCC; T. Wilkie, Correctional Officer at MCCC; Pete S., Nurse at MCCC; Sgt. K. Morris at MCCC; Dr. Robert Roth at the Ann Klein Forensic Center ("AKFC"); Dr. Gooriah at AKFC; Social Worker Lydia at AKFC; William J. Moliens, Associate Administrator at NJSP; Chris Holmes, Assistant Superintendent at NJSP; Jimmy Barnes, Assistant Superintendent at NJSP; James Drumm, Assistant Superintendent at NJSP; Ron Wagner, Assistant Superintendent at NJSP; James Keil, Chief of Custody at NJSP; Lt. Alaimo at NJSP; Crystal Raupp, Social Worker at NJSP; Ishmael, school teacher at NJSP; Shirley Stephens, Supervisor of Education at NJSP; Flora J. Defilippo, mental health doctor at NJSP; Sgt. Ortiz at NJSP; Captain Ortiz at NJSP; John Does 1-25, unknown named Mercer County Correction Officers; John Moes 1-10, unknown named Unit Manager and nursesat AKFC; and John Roes 1-99, unknown named corrections officers, supervisors and Special Investigation Division ("SID") investigators at NJSP. (Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14-21, 23-38). The following factual allegations, taken from the Complaint and Amended Complaint, are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court makes no findings as to the veracity of plaintiff's allegations.

In his initial Complaint, Prall alleges that he was incarcerated at the MCCC from October 22, 2008 to February 5, 2010, and remained free of disciplinary infractions for well over a year. During that time, he filed several actions in state court on his own behalf and helped other inmates to file similar actions. Prall's actions claimed that he is a conscientious objector to the "State's irrational system of criminal justice" and the conditions of his confinement. (Compl., ¶¶ 9, 10).

Prall alleges that, on December 12, 2009, the county defendants directed unnamed correctional officers to attack Plaintiff in his cell at MCCC, deny him medical care for his injuries and falsely charge him with disciplinary charges to cover up their actions. Prall also alleges that the County Defendants privately influenced state judges to depart from state law and sentence Plaintiff to prison on February 5, 2010, without regard to Plaintiff's sincerely held conscientious objection to the state criminal proceedings against him. (Compl., ¶¶ 12, 13).

Prall was transferred to the Management Control Unit ("MCU") at NJSP and was placed in a close/camera watch cell for more than three weeks with only a gown and a mattress on the floor. He was not given anything to clean the blood and feces on the floor and walls in his cell, forcing him to walk on the floor in bare feet. Prall complained about these conditions, namely, that his skin was itching from not taking showers, his feet "felt terrible," and that he was not given any cleaning products for his cell. He also complained about the correctional officers who "slap, joke, punch, kick, club and threaten" and who physically and mentally attack Plaintiff. Prall alleges that he covered the camera in his cell so that SID would bring a video recorder to document the abuse. (Compl., ¶ 14).

After three weeks on close/camera watch, Prall was placed in a regular cell in the MCU. However, Prall was not given a blanket, sheets, slippers or shoes, "draws", towels, wash rag, hygiene supplies, exercise, emergency canteen and legal assistance that were provided to other inmates. Prall further alleges that the corrections officers continue to "physically and mentally abuse him until he "renounces his conscientious beliefs." He complains that inmate paralegals are not permitted to stop at Plaintiff's cell or assist him upon request; that his grievances are not accepted and are ignored; and that his personal property, including his legal documents, have been seized and withheld from him. (Compl., ¶ 15).

In his Amended Complaint, Prall alleges that, in October 2006, he was arrested for eluding, resisting arrest, and assault on police officers. He claims that a person named Alexis Bell had visited Plaintiff in MCCC and appeared in state court to "announce that police framed Prall on the charges." Prall contends that defendant Galuchie was present when this occurred. Prall also alleges that Bell filed an affidavit with the Mercer County Public Defender's Office, which declares that Prall was innocent and that the police set him up. (Amended Compl., ¶ 41).

Prall states that after he was "released" from jail in May 2007,1 he continued his contact with Alexis Bell. However,because of his conscientious objection to the state criminal justice system, Prall declined to participate in the state criminal proceedings against him, and a trial went forward in hisabsence in January 2008. Prall states that Galuchie knowingly used false testimony at this trial to obtain a tainted conviction. Namely, Alexis Bell testified at trial that she witnessed Prall commit the offenses and then took a restraining order out on him after the incident. Further, the charging police officers appeared at the trial to coach, counsel and support Bell. Prall complains that this wrongly conveyed to the jury that Prall was guilty. (Amended Compl., ¶¶ 42-44).

Prall next alleges that he eventually was apprehended in Connecticut in September 2008. He waived extradition to New Jersey on the condition that his transport from Connecticut to New Jersey be conducted by the U.S. Marshal. Prall alleges, however, that defendant Bocchini encouraged Mercer County Sheriff Officers ("MCSOs") to pose as U.S. Marshal officers to effect Prall's extradition. Prall asserts that when this was done, prosecution of the murder charges became preempted under State v. Morel, 253 N.J. Super. 470 (App. Div. 1992).2 (Amended Compl., ¶ 45).

Prall reiterates in his Amended Complaint that he was placed in the MCCC on October 22, 2008 upon his extradition to New Jersey. He states that defendants Ellis and Oliver placed Prall in administrative protective custody, and during his time there, Prall initiated several state court actions and helped other inmates in similar state court proceedings. In one of his state court actions, Prall states that defendants Bocchini and Blaney moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, arguing that Prall had been properly extradited. While the motion to dismiss was pending, on September 22, 2009, Prall was committed to the AKFC for a 30-day competency evaluation. (Amended Compl., ¶¶ 46, 47).

Prall admits that he refused to cooperate with any of the psychological testing at the AKFC, although he did explain to defendants Roth, Gooriah, Lydia and the John Moe unit manager and nurse defendants at AKFC, that he held deep and sincere beliefs as a conscientious objector to the state's criminal justice system, which Prall contends are conducted in an "oppressive, abusive, egregious and irrational manner." Prall complains that, because...

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