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Stoute v. City of Everett

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 16, 2019

CITY OF EVERETT, et al., Defendants.



         On June 6, 2019, pro se plaintiff Stephen Stoute, a resident of East Boston, filed a civil rights complaint naming as defendants the City of Everett; the Chief of Police and several police officers for the Everett Police Department; the Registrar for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles; a clerk-magistrate for the Malden District Court; and the City of Malden. See Docket No. 1. Plaintiff alleges violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241 (conspiracy against rights), as well as violations of his constitutional rights. Id.

         With the complaint, Stoute filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See Docket No. 2. On June 19, 2019, he filed a motion to appoint counsel. See Docket No. 3.

         I. Relevant Background

         The following facts are based on the allegations in the complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this decision. On June 8, 2018, plaintiff was driving on Revere Beach Parkway. An Everett police officer began to follow plaintiff, and after pulling over asked plaintiff “What did you hide?” When plaintiff asked what was wrong, the police officer claimed that plaintiff ran a red light. The officer had his hand on his gun when he asked plaintiff for his license and registration. Out of concern for his safety, plaintiff provided the officer with his license and registration. A second officer arrived. Despite plaintiff's objections, his car was searched. Additional officers arrived and, while laughing, informed plaintiff that they did not need a warrant to search his car. Nothing was found in plaintiff's car and the officer issued a citation for running a red light.

         Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint with the civil rights division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's office. As of December 2018, the Attorney General had not taken any action on plaintiff's complaint.

         On September 6, 2018, plaintiff appeared before Magistrate Judge Hogan at the Malden District Court concerning the June 10, 2018 citation. Plaintiff alleges that Hogan advised plaintiff that he is charged with running a stop light but that he failed to state whether the proceeding was civil or criminal. Lt. Ditrapano appeared at the hearing and stated that he represented the Everett Police Department. Hogan and Ditrapano laughed at plaintiff and Hogan refused to provide his full name to plaintiff. Plaintiff argued that the citation was defective because the issuing officer's name was missing from the citation. Plaintiff argued that there was no injured party. Hogan told plaintiff that he has 20 days to pay the citation or lose the right to operate a motor vehicle.

         Plaintiff eventually paid the $105 Everett citation.

         A few months later, on November 29, 2018, plaintiff was driving in Andover with his interior lights on in order to read a map. A police officer began to follow plaintiff and put on his flasher. Plaintiff pulled over. After 15 minutes, the police officer approached plaintiff's car. The officer had his hand on his gun, and out of concern of life, plaintiff was forced to do business with the officer. The officer took plaintiff's license and registration to the police cruiser. When the officer returned, he issued a citation for driving with a suspended license. Plaintiff was not permitted to drive his car and was left stranded in Andover. Plaintiff later recovered his car from Andover.

         In an effort to have his RMV record corrected, plaintiff appeared at the Boston RMV office. The RMV clerk refused to provide plaintiff with her full name. In addition to having to pay the $55 late fee for the June 10, 2018 Everett citation, the clerk informed plaintiff that, because he was late in paying the Everett citation, he would also have to pay $100 to have his license reinstated.

         Plaintiff complains that the actions of the RMV caused plaintiff to be deprived of his liberty, right to travel freely and unhindered and subjected to false arrest and stranded in Andover. Plaintiff contends that he is unable to pay his insurance premium which subsequently “sky rocketed.”

         II. Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, a person seeking to proceed in forma pauperis must submit an affidavit that includes “a statement of all assets such [person] possesses that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Stoute filed this statement using a form application provided by the Court. See Docket No. 2.

         The date on Stoute's application includes the month and year, but not the day that Stoute signed the application. Stoute indicates that he is unemployed, but he fails to disclose the date of his last employment, the amount of his salary or wages and the name and address of his last employer. Despite these failures, Stoute discloses that he owns no property and has $13.00. On this financial record, the court ...

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