Civil court not getting involved in disposition of plaintiff's criminal charges, federal judge says

By Nicholas Malfitano | Oct 10, 2017

ALLENTOWN – A federal court judge recently ruled to dismiss a civil action from a plaintiff who alleged she was falsely accused with criminal charges in Northampton County.

On Aug. 11, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Thomas N. O’Neill Jr. elected to dismiss a civil complaint brought by Crystal Deberry of Easton versus the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Though the caption of Deberry’s complaint identifies the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the lone defendant, she named four additional defendants in the body of her complaint – a magisterial district judge, a police detective, a patrolman, and the Wilson Borough Police Department.

“Although plaintiff’s allegations are generalized and conclusory, it is clear she is alleging that she has been falsely charged with criminal violations and/or that the prosecution against her is flawed. It appears from a review of publicly available dockets that plaintiff is referring to her prosecution in the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas. The case is set for trial in September,” O’Neill said.

According to Deberry’s lawsuit, she asks the District Court to drop the charges against her, immediately release her from custody, and fire two police officers, while not seeking any monetary damages whatsoever.

O’Neill explained the District Court may not intervene in Deberry’s state criminal proceeding, and that if she “believes that the charges against her should be dismissed because they are false or for any other reason that would render the prosecution defective, she has the ability to raise those arguments in her criminal case”, and additionally, the Court “cannot direct the firing of police officers.”

“In any event, there is no legal basis for any Section 1983 claims against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the magisterial district judge who handled plaintiff’s case, or the police department. Plaintiff has also failed to state a claim against the police officers allegedly responsible for her prosecution because her allegations are vague, and do not clearly indicate what each individual did to allegedly violate her rights. For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff will not be given leave to amend because amendment would be futile,” O’Neill concluded.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:17-cv-00257

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at 

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