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Patterson v. Kidd

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

September 24, 2014

RODRICK JOHNSON PATTERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
WINSTON KIDD; HINDS COUNTY, BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, Defendants,

ORDER

CARLTON W. REEVES, District Judge.

Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Winston Kidd. Docket No. 14. The matter is fully briefed, Docket Nos. 18-19, and the Court is ready to rule.

I. Factual and Procedural History

Rodrick Patterson was charged with committing a crime in Hinds County, Mississippi. Judge Winston Kidd presided over Patterson's case in the Circuit Court of Hinds County. A jury was unable to render a verdict and Judge Kidd declared a mistrial. Docket Nos. 15-1; 18. Patterson was later released.

In this suit, Patterson claims Judge Kidd is liable for violating Patterson's right to a speedy trial and for denying Patterson bond. Docket No. 1, at 4. In his brief opposing summary judgment, he adds that Judge Kidd violated state court rules regarding withdrawal of counsel and jury deliberations. Docket No. 18, at 2-3. Patterson seeks damages, expungement, and other relief. Docket No. 1, at 4.[1]

The State of Mississippi stepped in to defend Judge Kidd. This motion followed.

II. Present Arguments

The State argues that Judge Kidd is entitled to summary judgment under the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity. Docket No. 15. Because Patterson's claim stems from judicial acts performed in Judge Kidd's official capacity, the suit cannot be maintained, it says. Id.

Patterson responds by listing the errors Judge Kidd made in the case. Docket No. 18. Patterson claims Judge Kidd knew that Patterson had been incarcerated without bond for over one year, a period of time which exceeds the speedy trial deadline. Id. at 1-2. This and other errors violated the Mississippi and United States Constitutions, among other authorities. Id. Patterson has also submitted an April 2014 newspaper article which found "nearly 130 inmates who have been in the [Hinds County] detention center for a year or more without trial." Docket No. 20, at 2.[2]

III. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party seeking to avoid summary judgment must identify admissible evidence in the record showing a fact dispute. Id. at 56(c)(1). "Once a summary judgment motion is made and properly supported, the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts in the record showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Neither conclusory allegations' nor unsubstantiated assertions' will satisfy the nonmovant's burden." Wallace v. Texas Tech Univ., 80 F.3d 1042, 1047 (5th Cir. 1996) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

The Court views the evidence and draws reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Maddox v. Townsend and Sons, Inc., 639 F.3d 214, 216 (5th Cir. 2011). But the Court will not, "in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts." McCallum Highlands, Ltd. v. Wash. Capital Dus, Inc., 66 F.3d 89, 92 (5th Cir. 1995), as revised on denial of reh'g, 70 F.3d 26 (5th Cir. 1995). "These rules apply equally to pro se litigants. Although pro se pleadings must be viewed liberally, such plaintiffs are still required to follow Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." Horton v. Faurecia Automotive, No. 3:13-CV-21-DPJ-FKB, 2014 WL 2196310, at *2 (S.D.Miss. May 27, 2014).

IV. Discussion

"A judge generally has absolute immunity from suits for damages." Davis v. Tarrant Cnty., Tex., 565 F.3d 214, 221 (5th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). According to the United States Supreme Court, the purpose of judicial immunity is ...


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