United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING MOTIONS FOR DISCOVERY FILED BY PLAINTIFF, (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT FILED BY DEFENDANTS, AND (3) DENYING MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT FILED BY PLAINTIFF
HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, District Judge.
BEFORE THE COURT are the following Motions: [53, 54, 55, 56] Motions for Discovery filed by Plaintiff Richard McBride ("Plaintiff" or "McBride");  Motion for Summary Judgment on Qualified Immunity and Judicial Immunity filed by Defendants the City of Moss Point, Mississippi; Moss Point Police Chief Keith Davis ("Chief Davis"); Moss Point Police Detective Johnny Jefferson ("Detective Jefferson"); and Moss Point Municipal Court Judge Maxine Conway ("Judge Conway") (collectively, "Defendants"); and [60, 62] Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff McBride. Having reviewed the submissions of the parties and relevant law, the Court is of the opinion that Plaintiff's Motions for Discovery and Motions for Summary Judgment should be denied. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment should be granted in part and denied in part.
Defendants Chief Davis and Detective Jefferson are entitled to qualified immunity in their individual capacities from Plaintiff's claims of First Amendment retaliation, excessive bail under the Eighth Amendment, and violation of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court also concludes that Chief Davis and Detective Jefferson have qualified immunity from any claim of unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment, except with respect to Plaintiff's claim of being detained for several hours while Plaintiff was in the process of being released on bond because questions of fact remain on this claim. Additionally, Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Chief Davis and Detective Jefferson are redundant of the claims against the City of Moss Point and will be dismissed.
The Court is further of the opinion that Defendant Judge Conway is entitled to judicial immunity from the claims stated against her in her individual capacity and from any claim for damages in her official capacity. The Court is without authority to award any injunctive or declaratory relief to Plaintiff and against Judge Conway, and summary judgment will be granted in favor of Judge Conway on those claims, as well. The Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants will be denied in all other respects.
Plaintiff Richard McBride, proceeding pro se, instituted this action by filing a Complaint on January 17, 2013, in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Mississippi, which was subsequently removed to this Court. McBride sued the City of Moss Point, Mississippi, several current and former law enforcement officers for the City of Moss Point, and a former Moss Point city judge. Pursuant to previous Orders of this Court, the only remaining Defendants are the City of Moss Point, Chief Davis in his official and individual capacities, Detective Jefferson in his official and individual capacities, and Judge Conway in her official and individual capacities.
The Court has thoroughly reviewed Defendants' evidence as well as the more than 100 pages of exhibits submitted by Plaintiff McBride. Many of McBride's exhibits - such as evidence related to his status as a minister - are irrelevant to the actual issues before the Court on summary judgment. Furthermore, some of the evidence relates to persons who are no longer defendants, or to allegations and claims that have been dismissed, and, thus, will be disregarded. Accordingly, in the light most favorable to McBride, the relevant facts for summary judgment purposes are as follows:
On January 15, 2012, McBride was arrested and incarcerated for alleged aggravated domestic violence against his wife, Blondine McBride ("Blondine"), and for a purported attempt to intimidate Blondine from testifying as a witness against McBride. McBride was released on bond the following day. A grand jury indicted McBride, but the charges were ultimately dismissed by the State because Blondine would not testify.
There is no evidence or allegation that Detective Jefferson or Chief Davis was involved in the initial arrest, which was apparently prompted by a telephone call from personnel at Singing River Hospital after Blondine arrived there and informed the Hospital she had been a victim of domestic abuse. McBride admits that on or around January 15, 2012, Blondine "went to Singing River Hospital to check on her back. She fell up against the weigh bench. The weight bench has cords. My wife believe or thought I Richard McBride had hit her." ( Id. at 12) (all sic in original); ( see also McBride Aff. 7 (¶22), ECF No. 60).
Blondine was treated and released. When Blondine returned home, she was met by Detective Jefferson. The Investigative Report completed by Detective Jefferson states that he "traveled to speak with Mrs. Blondine McBride regarding the incident." (ECF No. 58-3, at p.3). The Report further states that Blondine "was under the influence of pain medication[;] therefore, Detective Jefferson couldn't interview her[, ]" but was "able to photograph the injuries which she sustained to her body." ( Id. ).
McBride accuses Detective Jefferson of making false statements about McBride to Blondine and intimidating her in such a way that she left the McBride home to stay at a women's shelter. McBride also claims that Detective Jefferson's "failure to conduct due diligence to be a form of negligence[, ]" (Compl. 11-12, ECF No. 1-2), and that the Criminal Affidavits signed by Detective Jefferson for charging McBride with aggravated assault and witness intimidation were fabricated, (McBride Aff. 12-13 (¶¶ 42, 46), ECF No. 60). In support of his claims, McBride has submitted the Affidavit of Blondine McBride, in which she states that she did not ask Detective Jefferson or any other police officer to file charges against her husband. (Blondine Aff. 1 (¶4), ECF No. 60).
McBride also contends that on January 16, 2012, he was in the process of being released on bond when two detectives, including Detective Jefferson, stopped him and held him on orders from Chief Davis, who purportedly wanted to talk to McBride. McBride alleges that he was handcuffed to the wall for five or six hours and then moved to another room where he was chained to a table until Chief Davis arrived. He asserts that when Chief Davis arrived, he falsely accused McBride of "pull[ing] a gun on him in his office." (Compl. 7-9, ECF No. 1-2). He claims that Chief Davis "drew his gun twice" on McBride, intimidating him with deadly force. ( Id. ).
According to McBride, Chief Davis talked to Detective Jefferson and another detective, as well as to Judge Conway, and together these Defendants conspired to falsely accuse McBride of having "multiple counts of domestic violence." ( Id. ). McBride maintains that this allegedly false accusation resulted in Judge Conway setting his bail at $85, 000.00, which McBride contends was excessive in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. McBride also asserts that Detective Jefferson and another detective made false statements against him at the bail hearing, and Judge Conway "improperly discuss[ed his] case in open court." ( Id. at 10). McBride claims that Chief Davis, Detective Jefferson, and Judge Conway conspired to defame him, extort him through excessive bail, violate his right to equal protection, and retaliate against him because he had filed criminal charges against police officers to "protest police injustice." ( See, e.g., id. at 2, 9).
The remaining allegations in McBride's Complaint do not relate to his January 15, 2012, arrest and have no bearing on the claims still before the Court in this action.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A motion for summary judgment shall be granted "if 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). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Abarca v. Metro. Transit Auth., 404 F.3d 938, 940 (5th Cir. 2005). The movant bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery on file, together with any affidavits, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986). If the movant carries this burden, the burden shifts to the non-movant to show that summary judgment should not be granted. Id. at 324-25.
To overcome summary judgment, a party may not rest upon mere allegations in his complaint but must set forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Abarca, 404 F.3d at 940. This requires the party "to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner in which that evidence supports his... claim." Ragas v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). "Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty to sift through the record in search of evidence to support [a party's] opposition to summary judgment." Id. Moreover, a party's "burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotation marks omitted). The Court will not, in the absence of proof, assume that a party could or would prove the necessary facts. Id. Finally, while "the pleadings filed by pro se parties are held to less ...