United States District Court, D. Delaware
CHARLES E. DUFFY, SR., Plaintiff,
SUSSEX COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, et al., Defendants.
Charles E. Duffy, Sr., Sussex Correctional Institution,
Georgetown, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Charles E. Duffy, Sr., an inmate at the Sussex Correctional
Institution in Georgetown, Delaware, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 1). He appears
pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. (D.I. 7). Plaintiff requests counsel.
(D.I. 2). The Court screens and reviews the Complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(a).
alleges that his federal constitutional and statutory rights
were violated in 1984 and 1985 during his state criminal
case. In December 1984, Plaintiff was charged in a 10-count
indictment based in part on his rape of a 26 year old woman.
See Duffy v. State, 1987 WL 31556, at *1, 536 A.2d
615 (Del. 1987) (table). On July 8, 1985, pursuant to a plea
agreement, Duffy pled guilty to one count of first degree
rape and was sentenced to life imprisonment, the first twenty
years being mandatory. See Id. Throughout the years,
Plaintiff filed numerous postconviction motions. See,
e.g., Duffy v. State, 2012 WL 4019037, 53 A.3d 301 (Del.
states that he served thirty years in the Delaware prison
system. (D.I. 1 at 14) He was released and violated parole on
September 9, 2017. (Id. at 18).
alleges he has no other means to get justice and relief
regarding his 35-year old interracial case and that he was
prevented from asserting his rights in the "all white
Sussex County Superior Court in 1984 and 1985." (D.I. 1
at 7). Named Defendants include the Sussex County Superior
Court, the State of Delaware, former State Superior Court
Judge Tease, former Sussex County Deputy Attorney General
John Sandy, former Sussex County Public Defender Karl Haller,
and former Sussex County investigator Ms.
Kitchen. Plaintiff alleges that Haller, his
attorney, was ineffective and conspired with Judge Tease and
DAG Sandy, which resulted in his conviction in the all-white
court based on an indictment that charged him with fabricated
crimes that had no factual or physical evidence to support
them, all in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments of the United States Constitution. (Id.
at 15, 19).
relief Plaintiff asks this Court to dismiss all charges
against him and/or sentence him to time served. He also seeks
compensatory and punitive damages.
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.
Famigllo, 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.
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).
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
well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and
conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that
a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City
of Shelby, 574 U.S. 10 (2014). A complaint may not
dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal
theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 10.
reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint must take three
steps: (1) take note of the elements the plaintiff must plead
to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that, because they
are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the
assumption of truth; and (3) when there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016). Elements are sufficiently alleged when the facts
in the complaint "show" that the plaintiff is
entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). ...