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Li v. Belmont Police Department

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 25, 2019

CHANGGANG LI
v.
BELMONT POLICE DEPARTMENT and CAMBRIDGE DISTRICT COURT

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RICHARD G. STEARNS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         For the reasons stated below, the Court directs plaintiff to show good cause why this action should not be dismissed, or in the alternative, file an amended complaint that cures the pleading deficiencies of the original complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 21, 2018, plaintiff Changgang Li, a resident of Warren, New Hampshire, filed a complaint and motion to proceed in forma pauperis in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Li's complaint names as defendants the Warren, New Hampshire Police Department (“WPD”), the Belmont, Massachusetts Police Department (“BPD”), and the Cambridge (Massachusetts) District Court (“CDC”). On October 23, 2018, Li was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis and he filed an objection to the Report and Recommendation that was subsequently withdrawn.

         By Order dated January 7, 2019, Magistrate Judge Andrea K. Johnstone severed the claims against the Massachusetts defendants and ordered a new case opened and transferred to the District of Massachusetts. See 01/07/19 Transfer Order. Li brings this action against the Belmont Police Department and the Cambridge District Court alleging that these “government departments” are “not only illegally depriving [plaintiff] of all [of his] rights, but also insulting and deceiving [plaintiff].” Complaint (“Compl.”), p. 2. The statement of claim consists of a two-page, single spaced statement. Id. at pages 4-5. As best be gleaned from the complaint, Li was arrested after his wife filed a police report accusing him of domestic violence. Id. Plaintiff alleges that his wife “did not have any evidence to prove that [plaintiff] was guilty.” Id. As for the state court, plaintiff alleges that “the judge of the case just said what [plaintiff's wife] said.” Id. Among other things, plaintiff alleges that he has “reason to suspect that the Belmont Police cover[ed] up the facts and continue[s] to frame plaintiff in a malicious manner.” Id.

         For relief, plaintiff seeks monetary damages and appointment of an attorney as well as a Chinese Mandarin interpreter. Id. a t p ag es 4, 6 . Plaintiff seeks the Court's assistance in obtaining copies of certain videotapes from the Belmont Police Station and Santander Bank. Id. at p. 6.

         REQUESTS FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL AND TRANSLATOR

         To the extent Li seeks to have the Court appoint a translator and/or attorney, such requests are denied. There is no right to an interpreter in this action. Cf. 28 U.S.C. § 1827(a) (“The Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts shall establish a program to facilitate the use of certified and otherwise qualified interpreters in judicial proceedings instituted by the United States.”); Fed. R. Crim. P. 28. Similarly, a party in a civil case is not entitled to have its pleadings translated into English. See, e.g., Pedraza v. Phoenix, No. 93-2631, 1994 WL 177285, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 9, 1994) (unpublished); cf. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(e) (allowing reimbursement of translation services for criminal defendants); Fed.R.Civ.P. 43(d) (allowing translation of witness testimony in civil cases).

         Although a court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), there is no constitutional right to a free lawyer in a civil case. See DesRosiers v. Moran, 949 F.2d 15, 24 (1st Cir. 1991). A plaintiff must demonstrate that he is indigent and that exceptional circumstances warrant the appointment of counsel. Id. Plaintiff states that he is an indigent, non-English speaking litigant. He further states that he is suing a “government department” and seeks to have the court appoint counsel in order to “maintain the fairness and justice of the law.” However, at this early stage of litigation, Li has not demonstrated that exceptional circumstances warrant the appointment of counsel.

         COURT'S AUTHORITY TO REVIEW THE COMPLAINT

         Because plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, his complaint is subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Section 1915(e)(2) authorizes federal courts to dismiss a complaint sua sponte if the claims therein lack an arguable basis in law or in fact, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         Further, under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must plead more than a mere allegation that the defendants have harmed him. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009)(detailed factual allegations are not required under Rule 8, but a complaint “demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To adequately state a federal claim, a complaint must allege a “plausible entitlement to relief.” Rodriguez-Ortiz v. Margo Caribe, Inc., 490 F.3d 92, 95 (1st Cir. 2007).

         Even with a liberal construction of the complaint because the Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), the complaint is ...


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