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Paczkowski v. State

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 22, 2018

JOSEPH S. PACZKOWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, et al., Defendants.

          Joseph S. Paczkowski, Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joseph S. Paczkowski, an inmate at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, Delaware, filed this Complaint in March 2018 raising claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 1, 8, 9). He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 7). He requests counsel. (D.I. 4, 9, 11, 12). The Court reviews and screens the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         In August 1999, Plaintiff entered a Robinson plea in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse in the third degree. Paczkowski v. State, 2001 WL 213354, at *1 (Del. 2001). Pursuant to the plea agreement, he was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, suspended after two years for fifteen years' probation. Id. In October 2011, Plaintiff was charged with violation of probation. (D.I. 8). Plaintiff was detained, and his VOP hearing was continued pending an investigation. (Id.). Plaintiff asked to be released, but he remained detained.

         In December 2011, Plaintiff was indicted on five counts of sex offender unlawful sexual conduct against a child. (D.I. 8 at p.1); see also State v. Paczkowski, ID Nos. 1112009385 & 9904022327 (Del. Super.) (D.I. 70) (decision denying motion for postconviction relief) (available at Paczkowski v. State, No. 17-1665 (D.I. 4-2) (D.Del.)). Plaintiff contends that the grand jury should not have heard about his status as a sex offender. (D.I. 8 at p.4). He alleges prejudice and violations of his civil rights because the grand jury heard this evidence. (Id.).

         On many occasions while awaiting the VOP hearing, Plaintiff requested a new attorney. (Id. at p.1). Plaintiff alleges his attorney had a conflict of interest and that the Public Defender and the State of Delaware worked together to violate his civil rights. Plaintiff also alleges that he was denied effective assistance of counsel during the criminal proceedings because his attorney waived Plaintiff's right to a preliminary hearing. (Id. at p.3). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Probation requested destruction of evidence, the request was granted on September 7, 2012, and he needed the evidence for postconviction relief. (Id. at p.1).

         At Plaintiffs final case review on April 4, 2012, he pled guilty to one count each of unlawful sexual contact in the first degree and to sexual solicitation of a child in addition to admitting a violation of probation. See Paczkowski, ID Nos. 1112009385 & 9904022327 (D.I. 70) (decision denying motion for postconviction relief). See also D.I. 14 at 6. Plaintiff alleges that the VOP was "put on the plea deal," and he was pressured into it without having an evidentiary hearing. (D.I. 8 at p.4). He alleges he was denied the right to confront his accusers as to the VOP. Plaintiff was sentenced to 30 years at Level V, suspended after serving 15 years at Level V and completing the family problems program for a lengthy period of probation. See Paczkowski, ID Nos. 1112009385 & 9904022327 (D.I. 70) (decision denying motion for postconviction relief).

         Plaintiff alleges violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He seeks damages, lost wages (D.I. 4 at 1), and release from prison (D.I. 8 at 1). He also requests counsel. (D.I. 4, 9, 11, 12).

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b) if "the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental defendant). The Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94.

         An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and § 1915A(b)(1), a court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or a "clearly baseless" or "fantastic or delusional" factual scenario. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).

         The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999). However, before dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, the Court must grant Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss may be granted only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a court concludes that those allegations "could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007). "Though 'detailed factual allegations' are not required, a complaint must do more than simply provide 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.'" Davis v. Abington Mem 1 Hosp.,765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In addition, a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. ...


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