Author: LegalEase Solutions
Does Plaintiff have any potential claims against the New York Police Department, and if so, is New York the proper jurisdiction and venue?
Yes. Plaintiff may viably claim deprivation of civil rights, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and malicious abuse of process against the New York Police Department. However, the burden to prove a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is high. In order to be successful, Plaintiff must prove that no probable cause for search, seizure, or arrest existed at the time of deprivation of his constitutional rights, and additionally, Plaintiff must defeat any qualified immunity defense. Venue and jurisdiction in New York are proper on the ground that the search, seizure, and arrest constitute substantial parts of the events leading to the § 1983 and those events occurred in New York.
A claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 requires a plaintiff to “allege that (1) the challenged conduct was attributable at least in part to a person who was acting under color of state law and (2) the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.” Snider v. Dylag, 188 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1999) (citing Dwares v. City of New York, 985 F.2d 94, 98 (2d Cir.1993)). In the case at hand, Plaintiff may have potential claims of deprivation of rights, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and malicious abuse of process against the New York Police Department (“NYPD”).
Claims against the NYPD under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 will mirror those claims made against the Michigan defendants, except that they would be made within the context of extradition. It is settled precedent in the Second Circuit that “the arrest of a fugitive for the purpose of securing his extradition constitutes a deprivation of his liberty.” Giano v Martino, 673 F. Supp. 92, 94 (EDNY 1987) aff’d, 835 F2d 1429 (2d Cir 1987). “[H]e may not be seized or held for the period required to effectuate his extradition without probable cause and without a finding of probable cause by way of indictment or by a determination of ‘a neutral judicial officer of the demanding state.’” Id. (quoting Michigan v. Doran, 439 U.S. 282, 290, 99 (1978).
New York Criminal Procedure Law § 570.16 grants authority in the state to extradite fugitives; the state may surrender fugitives charged with crimes in other states at the demand of the “executive authority” of the prosecuting state. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 570.16. Section 570.08 lays out the documents sufficient to create probable cause for arrest and extradition.
Those documents include: (1) a copy of an indictment or information supported by an affidavit, or (2) a copy of any warrant issued in the demanding state together with an affidavit made before a magistrate there, or (3) a copy of a judgment of conviction or of a sentence imposed in execution thereof, together with a statement by the executive authority of the demanding state that the person claimed has escaped from confinement or has broken the terms of his bail, probation or parole. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 570.08. Further, “[t]he indictment, information or affidavit made before the magistrate must substantially charge the person demanded with having committed a crime under the law of that state; and the copy of the indictment, information, affidavit, judgment of conviction or sentence must be authenticated by the executive authority making the demand.” Id. It is not clear whether the NYPD received such documentation.
Additionally, the NYPD may be held to somewhat of a higher standard when extraditing New York residents versus fugitives fleeing from Michigan. The policy considerations regarding extradition of a person not physically present in the demanding state requires “that section be strictly enforced and that in the absence of a clear showing of compliance with such requirements, extradition be not permitted of a New York resident who was not present in the demanding state at the time of the commission of the alleged criminal acts.” People ex rel. Wheeler v Murphy, 38 Misc. 2d 154, 157 (Sup. Ct. 1962). The New York Court of Appeals has held “that there is a fundamental distinction between the Governor’s power to extradite fugitives from justice and his power to extradite individuals who were not physically present in the demanding State at the time they allegedly committed the crime.” People v Hinton, 40 N.Y.2d 345, 349 (1976); see also Fabbri v Pataki, 169 Misc. 2d 1026, 1030-31 (Sup. Ct. 1996) aff’d, 237 AD2d 520 (2d Dept. 1997). Extraditions of persons not physically present in the demanding state at the time of the alleged crime “mandate a sufficient factual demonstration to satisfy the statutory requirements designed to protect a New York resident.” In re Taylor, 66 Misc. 2d 1006, 1010 (Sup Ct 1971).
In the instant case, it is unclear whether the NYPD had complied with the requirements of interstate extradition as laid out by N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 570.16. Plaintiff was not physically present in Michigan to commit the alleged offense, and accordingly it seems doubtful that Plaintiff was arrested for “sufficient factual demonstration[s]” that would create probable cause. Id. Arrest and extradition without probable cause open the door for § 1983 claims against the NYPD. The specific claims and possible defenses are addressed in the following.
- Deprivation of Rights
The deprivation of liberty without due process of law, as in the instant case, “requires the States to provide a fair and reliable determination of probable cause as a condition for any significant pretrial restraint of liberty.” Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 142-43 (1979) (citing Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975)). However, “a person arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by a magistrate on a showing of probable-cause is not constitutionally entitled to a separate judicial determination that there is probable cause to detain him pending trial.” Id. at 143. Accordingly, “‘an essential element of a § 1983 claim alleging deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law is that probable cause did not exist at the time the claimant was subjected to the unconstitutional deprivation’” Payne v County of Sullivan, 12 A.D.3d 807, 809 (3d Dept. 2004) (quoting Kubik v. New York State Dept. of Social Servs., 278 A.D.2d 644, 646, (2000)).
In the instant case, the Plaintiff has to prove that the department lacked probable cause for the search, seizure, and arrest. Plaintiff must show that the NYPD was acting solely and detrimentally on the false information provided by Defendants, or that the NYPD failed to show its own fair and reliable determination of probable cause in carrying out the search, seizure, and arrest.
- False Arrest
A § 1983 claim for false arrest is substantially the same as a claim for false arrest under … New York … law, and the ‘existence of probable cause gives an officer the privilege to arrest and ‘is a complete defense to an action for false arrest.’’” Hinton v Moritz, 11 F. Supp. 2d 272, 274 (WDNY 1998) (quoting Marshall v. Sullivan, 105 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir.1996). “To state a claim for false arrest under New York law, a plaintiff must show that ‘(1) the defendant intended to confine the plaintiff, (2) the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement, (3) the plaintiff did not consent to the confinement, and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged.’” Savino v. City of New York, 331 F.3d 63, 75 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Bernard v. United States, 25 F.3d 98, 102 (2d Cir. 1994)).
“Probable cause to arrest exists when officers have knowledge of, or reasonably trustworthy information about, facts and circumstances sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been committed or is being committed by the person to be arrested.” Johnson v City of New York, 940 F. Supp. 631, 636 [SDNY 1996] (citing Golino v. City of New Haven, 950 F.2d 864, 870 (2d Cir.1991).
In this case, Plaintiff had repeatedly denied his involvement in the offense alleged. The NYPD acted detrimentally and without reasonably trustworthy information, and caused the arrest of the Plaintiff. Again, as with a claim for deprivation of rights, if the NYPD relied solely on information from the Michigan Defendants or failed to conduct a reasonable investigation prior to Plaintiff’s arrest than probable cause was more than likely lacking. Under such circumstances, Plaintiff has a viable claim for false arrest.
- Malicious Prosecution
“To state a claim for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must prove the initiation or continuation of an action against him; the termination of the proceeding in his favor; the absence of probable cause to commence the proceeding; and actual malice as a motivation for the defendant’s actions.” Ramos v City of New York, 285 AD2d 284, 298 [1st Dept. 2001] (citing Broughton v. State of New York, 37 N.Y.2d 451, 457, 373 N.Y.S.2d 87, 335 N.E.2d 310). “Probable cause consists of such facts and circumstances as would lead a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances to believe plaintiff guilty.” Colon v City of New York, 60 NY2d 78, 82  (citing Hyman v. New York Cent. R.R. Co., 240 N.Y. 137, 143, 147 N.E. 613; Boose v. City of Rochester, 71 A.D.2d 59, 67, 421 N.Y.S.2d 740). “Although a mistake of fact as to the identity of the criminal might not void probable cause, a failure to make further inquiry when a reasonable person would have done so may evidence a lack of probable cause.” Ramos, supra, 285 AD2d at 299 (citing Colon, supra, at 82).
“Regarding the element of malice, a plaintiff need not demonstrate the defendant’s intent to do him or her personal harm, but need only show a reckless or grossly negligent disregard for his or her rights.” Ramos, 285 AD2d at 300. The Ramos court “an egregious deviation from proper investigative procedures” (citing Hernandez v. State of New York, 228 A.D.2d 902, 904, 644 N.Y.S.2d 380) or “initiation of the prosecution notwithstanding the total absence of probable cause” to evidence constitutional malice. Id.. The court further stated that “[a]ctual malice, in fact, is seldom shown by direct evidence of an ulterior motive, but is usually inferred from the facts and circumstances of the investigation.” Ramos, supra 285 AD2d at 300-01 [1st Dept. 2001] (citing Martin, supra, at 17, 396 N.Y.S.2d 612, 364 N.E.2d 1304).
The Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment “guarantees to citizens of the United States the absolute right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures carried out by virtue of federal authority.” Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 392 (1971). The Court added that “where federally protected rights have been invaded, it has been the rule from the beginning that courts will be alert to adjust their remedies so as to grant the necessary relief.” Id. (quoting Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 684 (1946).
In the instant case, it appears that the NYPD failed to make the further inquiry that a reasonable person would have made prior to detaining Plaintiff. This could open the door to a claim for malicious prosecution. Even though Plaintiff was not prosecuted in New York, “wrongful extradition” may be sufficient to support a claim for malicious prosecution. See Snider v. Seung Lee, 584 F.3d 193 (4th Cir. 2009).
- Malicious Abuse of Process
“In order to establish liability for malicious abuse of process under § 1983, a plaintiff must establish the claim’s elements under state law as well as the deprivation of a constitutional right.” Hoffman v Town of Southampton, 893 F. Supp. 2d 438, 446 (EDNY 2012) aff’d sub nom. Peter L. Hoffman, Lotte, LLC v Town of Southampton, 523 F. App’x 770 (2d Cir 2013). “‘In the criminal context, malicious abuse of process is ‘by definition a denial of procedural due process.’” Dickerson v Monroe County Sheriff’s Dept., 114 F. Supp. 2d 187, 192 (WDNY 2000) Cook v. Sheldon, 41 F.3d 73, 80 (2d Cir.1994)).
“In New York, ‘a malicious abuse-of-process claim lies against a defendant who (1) employs regularly issued legal process to compel performance or forbearance of some act (2) with intent to do harm without excuse of justification, and (3) in order to obtain a collateral objective that is outside the legitimate ends of the process.’” Savino, 331 F.3d at 76 (quoting Cook, 41 F.3d at 80). “In order to state a claim for abuse of process, a plaintiff must establish that the defendants had an improper purpose in instigating the action.” Id. at 77 (citing Dean v. Kochendorfer, 237 N.Y. 384 (1924)). Further, “he must claim that they aimed to achieve a collateral purpose beyond or in addition to his criminal prosecution.” Id.
In the instant case, the police officers used a warrant to do harm to the Plaintiff, without justification. This amounts to malicious prosecution. However, in order to satisfy the requirement of malicious abuse of process, the Plaintiff must claim that they aimed to achieve a collateral purpose beyond or in addition to his criminal prosecution. This is a relatively high burden of proof.
- Qualified immunity
In order to succeed in a § 1983 claim against the New York Police officers, the Plaintiff must defeat the defense of qualified immunity available to the department and officers. “Qualified immunity exists if the undisputed facts and all permissible inferences favorable to the plaintiff show either (a) that it was objectively reasonable for the officer to believe probable cause existed, or (b) that officers of reasonable competence could disagree on whether there was probable cause.” Johnson, supra, 940 F. Supp. at 636 (citing Robison v. Via, 821 F.2d 913, 921 (2d Cir.1987)). The United States Supreme Court has held that “government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982) (citing Procunier v. Navarette, 434 U.S. 555, 565 (1978); Wood v. Strickland, 420 U.S. 308, 322 (1975)).
“An officer conducting a search is entitled to qualified immunity where clearly established law does not show that the search violated the Fourth Amendment.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 243-44 (2009).
In the instant case, in order to succeed in his § 1983 claim against the NYPD, the Plaintiff needs to prove that the officers conducting the search, seizure, and arrest, violated the clearly established law. Further, he needs to prove that the violation was the result of deliberate indifference to his rights. The burden to overcome qualified immunity is very high.
- Jurisdiction and Venue
The Southern District of New York has held that when “plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of constitutional rights, subject matter jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 …” Hall v. South Orange, 89 F. Supp. 2d 488, 491 (SDNY 2000). Additionally, “the proper venue for this case is defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) …” Id. “A civil action is properly brought in ‘a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated.’” AEI Life, LLC v Lincoln Ben. Life Co., 305 FRD 37, 42 (EDNY 2015) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2)).
Thus, “[t]his provision does not require that plaintiffs establish that the Southern District has the most substantial contacts to the dispute; rather it is sufficient that a substantial part of the events occurred [here], even if a greater part of the events occurred elsewhere.” Neufeld v Neufeld, 910 F. Supp. 977, 986 (SDNY 1996). “That means for venue to be proper, significant events or omissions material to the plaintiff’s claim must have occurred in the district in question, even if other material events occurred elsewhere.” Gulf Ins. Co. v. Glasbrenner, 417 F.3d 353, 357 (2d Cir. 2005).
In the instant case, a New York police officer, along with Defendant Elges, executed a search warrant at Plaintiff’s home in New York where several belongings were seized. Plaintiff was later arrested by police officers from New York Police Department, and subsequently spent two weeks at Riker’s Island jail before being extradited to Michigan. The search and seizure and the later arrest were a substantial part of the events leading to Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim. Thus, the significant events or omissions material to the plaintiff’s claim have occurred in New York. Accordingly, New York should be a proper venue for Plaintiff’s claims against the NYPD.
The Plaintiff has viable claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the New York Police Department. In order to succeed in his § 1983 claims, however, the Plaintiff must meet the high burden of proof for each claim, and meet the even higher burden necessary to overcome a qualified immunity defense. In regards to venue, New York is a proper venue because a substantial part of the events leading to Plaintiff’s arrest occurred in New York.