PHILADELPHIA – Federal appellate court judges have thrown out a civil rights action filed against a member of the Pennsylvania State Police for a perceived lack of merit, per court records.

On Jan. 6, judges D. Michael Fisher, Patty Shwartz and Maryanne Trump Barry decided to affirm the dismissal of the civil rights case brought by plaintiff Anthony Calife Blocker against Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Noel Velez, for Blocker’s appeal supposedly lacking standing.

Blocker, awaiting trial on state-law charges of unlawfully selling a non-controlled substance, filed a Section 1983 complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s Allentown branch against Velez, the trooper who arrested him. Blocker alleged claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and extortion, but the complaint did not provide any factual support for these allegations.

As a result, the District Court dismissed Blocker’s complaint without prejudice. Ruling his malicious prosecution claim failed as a matter of law because “he had not established that his criminal proceedings had terminated in his favor, and that his other claims failed because Blocker had not made the requisite factual showing.”

Blocker then filed an amended complaint which included his earlier allegations and added the following paragraph from the criminal information that Velez had prepared: “On Aug. 11, 2014 at approximately 2:10 a.m. in the first block of Conestoga Street, the defendant did deliver approximately one gram of a non-controlled substance represented to be heroin to a confidential informant, in exchange for $60.00 U.S. Currency.”

Yet again, the District Court dismissed Blocker’s complaint without prejudice, relying on both rationales provided in the initial order, leading Blocker to appeal.

“We agree with the District Court’s analysis, as most clearly set forth in its initial order. A ‘cause of action for malicious prosecution does not accrue until the criminal proceedings have terminated in the plaintiff’s favor,” the appellate court said.

The Third Circuit explained Blocker finally pleaded guilty to one count of selling a non-controlled substance represented as heroin, a conviction which has not been overturned, therefore the District Court properly dismissed this claim.

“While Blocker’s other claims do not face this same bar, the District Court correctly dismissed Blocker’s complaint because it failed to state a claim. Blocker’s allegations that Velez committed some type of misconduct are entirely conclusory, lack factual support, and do not establish a facially plausible claim. Accordingly, we will affirm the District Court’s dismissal of Blocker’s complaint,” the Third Circuit said.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit case 16-3310

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 5:16-cv-02227

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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