Former inmate files pro se complaint against Phila. Common Pleas Court, others for civil rights violations

By Jon Campisi | Jul 31, 2013

A 44-year-old South Carolina man who previously served prison time in Pennsylvania has filed a pro se complaint against the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Defender’s Association of Pennsylvania over allegations that he was prejudiced during trial two decades ago.

Mario Gause claims in his civil filing at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that Common Pleas Court Judge Ricardo Jackson made prejudicial comments back on Oct. 21, 1993, during the second day of the plaintiff’s two-day trial on rape and other charges, when the jurist reportedly said, “You could have 15 lawyers, but I won’t let you out of jail. The ultimate decision is for me.”

Gause claims that the judge’s comments were not only prejudicial, but deprived him of a fair and impartial trial, “as guilt was pre-determined and against the weight of the evidence.”

The suit also accuses the assistant district attorney who worked on the case in the early 1990s of relying on the false testimony of a prosecution witness.

Gause says he was deprived of a fair hearing and was denied due process.

The plaintiff also maintains that he was prejudiced when the public defender who worked on his case, identified in court papers as William Stewart, failed to prepare an adequate defense “against the prosecutor’s weak and unsupported case,” namely by refusing to contact witnesses who would have bolstered the plaintiff’s case.

“These actions and inactions has [sic] caused your Plaintiff cruel and unusual punishment and continuous injury for now over 21 years …,” the complaint reads.

Gause says his Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and 19th Amendment rights were violated.

He claims he suffered from wrongful imprisonment, as well as stress and pain relating to his time behind bars.

Gause also claims he suffered back and other injuries during a 2006 incident at the Graterford state prison in Montgomery County that continue to affect his daily activities.

The plaintiff maintains that the injuries have prevented him from obtaining employment, and have caused his depression from “long ago” to return.

“Plaintiff request[s] this court to review the facts of record from [the] case … and releave [sic] your Plaintiff of the injuries inflicted,” the suit reads.

The civil action does not specify what, if any, monetary damages are being sought by the plaintiff, who is asking a federal judge to allow him to proceed with his cause without paying the required civil filing fee because of his financial status.

Gause claims he has only $200 in food stamps and relies on family to pay his medical expenses.

He says he is basically homeless.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04382-ER.

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