United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge.
Raheen Monk filed the above-captioned civil rights
action alleging that the “Maryland State Police NE
Barracks” used illegal tactics to interrogate him and
gather evidence during a murder investigation and that the
Cecil County State's Attorneys' Office violated his
constitutional rights by filing a notice of intent to seek
life imprisonment without parole. ECF No. 1. Defendants Cecil
County State's Attorney's Office and “Maryland
State Police NE Barracks each filed a motion to dismiss (ECF
Nos. 10 & 17) which Plaintiff opposes. ECF Nos. 17 &
20.Plaintiff also filed a second motion to
amend the complaint. ECF No. 27. The matters are now ripe for
review. The court finds a hearing in these matters
unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
that follow, Defendants' motions to dismiss will be
granted and Plaintiff's motion to amend will be denied.
Alishawaine Raheen Monk filed this complaint on July 18,
2018, alleging that on July 20, 2014, he and three other
individuals were arrested for the murder of Vincent McKinley
Robertson. ECF No. 1, p. 5. Plaintiff maintains that the
charges were “fabricated and trumped up” and that
“[t]he Maryland State Police NE Barracks soon began
fabricating and using illegal tactics” to obtain
evidence against him in violation of his right to due process
and Maryland law. Id. Plaintiff named the Maryland
State Police NE Barracks as a Defendant and directed the
court to “see attached sheet for complete list of
Defendants at State Police.” Id., p. 1.
Attached to the complaint are the docket entries from
Plaintiff's criminal case in the Circuit Court for Cecil
County which lists a number of police officers as well as a
number of other individuals who are not employed by the
Maryland State Police. ECF No. 1-1, p. 2. None of the
individuals are identified in the body of the complaint as
allegedly engaging in any unlawful conduct.
also alleges that unidentified investigators used evidence
obtained from an informant who claimed that Plaintiff was
seen with a handgun of the same caliber that killed the
victim, however the informant later recanted. ECF No. 1, p.
5. Plaintiff alleges that “defendants used
manipulated-inducements and illegal tactics” during the
investigation that led to his arrest. Id.
Additionally, he states that the State's Attorney's
Office, served a notice to seek life without parole.
Id., p. 6. Plaintiff was detained for nine months
before he was able to make bond. Id. Ultimately, a
state circuit court judge suppressed evidence which prevented
the trial from moving forward and the charges were
“dropped against the Plaintiffs.” Id.;
see also ECF No. 1-1, p. 1 (docket entries
reflecting charges entered nolle prosequi on August 5, 2015).
Motion to Dismiss
Standard of Review
reviewing the complaint in light of a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court accepts all
well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and
construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived
therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420
(4th Cir. 2005). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure requires only a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
Supreme Court of the United States explained that a
“plaintiff's obligation to provide the
“grounds” of his “entitlement to
relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted).
Nonetheless, the complaint does not need “detailed
factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. at 555. Instead, “once a claim has been
stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of
facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Id. at 563. To survive a motion to
dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “But where the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at
679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
under § 1983 allows “a party who has been deprived
of a federal right under the color of state law to seek
relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at
Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). To state a
claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) a
right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was
committed by a person acting under the color of state law.
See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
“Maryland State Police NE Barracks” and Cecil
County State's Attorney's Office each correctly note,
neither is a “person” subject to suit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(creating a cause of action against “every
person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws” (emphasis added); Owens v. Baltimore City
State's Attorney's Office, 767 F.3d 379, 393
(2014) (holding “the Baltimore City State's
Attorney's Office is not a suable entity.”). Thus,
the court will grant Defendants' motions to dismiss. ECF
Nos. 18 & 20.
Cecil County State's Attorney's Office is immune from
suit under the Eleventh Amendment. Likewise, had Plaintiff
named the Maryland State Police as a Defendant, it too would
be immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. Under the
Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, a
state, its agencies and departments are immune from suits in
federal court brought by its citizens or the citizens of
another state, unless it consents. See Pennhurst State
Sch. and Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984).
“It is clear, of course, that in the absence of consent
a suit in which the State or one of its agencies or
departments is named as the defendant is proscribed by the
Eleventh Amendment.” Id. While the State of
Maryland has waived its sovereign immunity for certain types
of cases brought in state courts, see Md. Code Ann.,
State Gov't § 12-202(a), it has not waived its
immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to suit in federal
court. “A State's constitutional
interest in immunity encompasses not merely whether it may be
sued, but where it may be sued.” Halderman,
465 U.S. at 100. Thus, Plaintiff's complaint against the
Cecil County State's Attorney's Office and the
Maryland State Police, arms of the State, is barred by the
even if Plaintiff had named a proper person from the Cecil
County State's Attorney's Office as a Defendant, his
claim would fail as prosecutors are entitled to absolute
immunity. Maryland State's Attorneys are quasi-judicial
officers who enjoy absolute immunity when performing
prosecutorial functions, as opposed to investigative or
administrative ones. See Imbler v. Pachtman, 424
U.S. 409, 422-23 (1976); see also Kalina v.
Fletcher, 522 U.S. 118, 127 (1997); Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993); Nero v.
Mosby, 890 F.3d 106, 116-117, (4th Cir. May 7, 2018);
Springmen v. Williams, 122 F.3d211 (4th Cir. 1997).
Absolute immunity is designed to protect judicial process.
Thus, the inquiry is whether a prosecutor's actions are
closely associated with judicial process. See Burns v.
Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 479 (1991) (citing Imbler,
424 U.S. at 422-23). The court must use a “functional
approach” to “determine whether a particular act
is ‘intimately associated with the judicial
phase.'” Nero, 890 F.3d at 118 (quoting
Imbler, 424 U.S. at 430). The Fourth Circuit
recently stated in Nero, 890 F.3d at 118: “A
prosecutor acts as an advocate when she professionally
evaluates evidence assembled by the police, Buckley,
509 U.S. at 273, decides to seek an arrest warrant,
Kalina, 522 U.S. at 130, prepares and ...