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Hays v. Granderson

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

August 17, 2017

HOWARD HAYS PLAINTIFF
v.
SGT. DETECTIVE BYRON GRANDERSON, DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NEAL B. BIGGERS, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Howard Hays, who challenges the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of action against “[e]very person” who under color of state authority causes the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants falsely arrested him, maliciously prosecuted him, and caused an unreasonable delay between the time of his arrest and his initial appearance before a neutral and detached magistrate. The defendants have moved for summary judgment; Mr. Hays has responded to the motion, and the defendants have replied. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion by the defendants for summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be entered for the defendants in all respects.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the “materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” show 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) and (c)(1). “The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its burden.” Beck v. Texas State Bd. of Dental Examiners, 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988)). After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633; Allen v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 204 F.3d 619, 621 (5th Cir. 2000); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). Substantive law determines what is material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id., at 248. If the non-movant sets forth specific facts in support of allegations essential to his claim, a genuine issue is presented. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327. “Where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Federal Savings and Loan, Inc. v. Krajl, 968 F.2d 500, 503 (5thCir. 1992).

         The facts are reviewed drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Allen, 204 F.3d at 621; PYCA Industries, Inc. v. Harrison County Waste Water Management Dist., 177 F.3d 351, 161 (5th Cir. 1999); Banc One Capital Partners Corp. v. Kneipper, 67 F.3d 1187, 1198 (5th Cir. 1995). However, this is so only when there is “an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994); see Edwards v. Your Credit, Inc., 148 F.3d 427, 432 (5th Cir. 1998). In the absence of proof, the court does not “assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.” Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).

         The very purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Advisory Committee Note to the 1963 Amendments to Rule 56. Indeed, “[t]he amendment is not intended to derogate from the solemnity of the pleadings[;] [r]ather, it recognizes that despite the best efforts of counsel to make his pleadings accurate, they may be overwhelmingly contradicted by the proof available to his adversary.” Id. The non-moving party (the plaintiff in this case), must come forward with proof to support each element of his claim. The plaintiff cannot meet this burden with “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356 (1986), “conclusory allegations, ” Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 871-73, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3180 (1990), “unsubstantiated assertions, ” Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92 (5th Cir. 1994), or by a mere “scintilla” of evidence, Davis v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 14 F.3d 1082 (5th Cir. 1994). It would undermine the purposes of summary judgment if a party could defeat such a motion simply by “replac[ing] conclusory allegations of the complaint or answer with conclusory allegations of an affidavit.” Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3188 (1990). In considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must determine whether the non-moving party's allegations are plausible. Matsushita, supra. (emphasis added). “[D]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim is context-specific, requiring the reviewing court to draw on its experience and common sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (discussing plausibility of claim as a requirement to survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, once the court “has determined the relevant set of facts and drawn all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party to the extent supportable by the record, [the ultimate decision becomes] purely a question of law.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007) (emphasis in original). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on the motion for summary judgment.” Id. at 380.

         Undisputed Material Facts

         The court has taken the chronology of events, which the plaintiff has not disputed, largely from the defendants' brief in support of summary judgment. In his “Statement of Disputed Factual Issues, ” Mr. Hays sets forth five items he believes created genuine issues of material fact. In numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5, Hays disputes whether Detective Granderson actually believes various facts set forth in his affidavit in support of summary judgment. Hays did not, however, present any evidence contradicting those statements, and as set forth above, his unsupported allegations are insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact. In number 3, Mr. Hays challenges whether he actually told Detective Granderson that he was on parole on the day of his arrest. However, Granderson somehow discovered that fact, as he notified the Mississippi Department of Corrections, which issued a parole warrant on the first business day after Hays' arrest. Further, as discussed below, Hays' status as a parolee changes the calculus from the 48-hour burden-shifting standard of Gerstein and McLaughlin[1](which applies to normal suspects) to the much lower bar of “as promptly as convenient” after arrest (for parolees suspected of violating the terms of their conditional release). Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 485, 92 S.Ct. 2593, 2600, 33 L.Ed.2d 484 (1972). In addition, Detective Granderson enjoys qualified immunity from suit because the law as applied the unusual facts of this case is not well-established. Thus, Mr. Hays' allegation regarding the revelation of his status as a parolee (and the timing of that revelation) is not material to the outcome of this case.

         Mr. Hays Released from Incarceration

         On August 11, 2014, the plaintiff, Howards Hays, was released on parole from the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for his conviction for burglary.

         Burglary at 401 Walthall Street, September 25, 2016

         On September 25, 2016, Greenwood, Mississippi Detective Granderson was dispatched to 401 Walthall Street in Greenwood, Mississippi, to investigate a burglary at the Bella Flora Flower Shop. Among the items stolen were various merchandise and a 1997 Chevrolet Astro Van. Detective Granderson dusted for fingerprints and photographed shoe prints on top of an air conditioning unit. The Greenwood Police Department conducted the investigation for the crimes of Burglary of a Vehicle and Commercial Burglary. See Miss. Code §§ 97-17-43; 97-17-33.

         Detective Granderson Finds the Stolen Van at 1:20 a.m., September 26, 2016

         At approximately 1:20 a.m. on Friday, September 26, 2016, Detective Granderson noticed a van matching the description of the stolen 1997 Chevrolet Astro stolen the previous day from Bella Flora Flower Shop in the parking lot of a business along Mississippi Highway 7. Detective Granderson called in the license plate number on the van and confirmed that it was stolen. Detective Granderson approached the vehicle, at which point he observed a black male seated in the driver's side of the van. He asked the man in the driver's seat, whom he now considered a suspect, what he was doing in the van, and then placed him in handcuffs to call the Leflore County Sheriff's Department. A deputy from the Leflore County Sheriff's Department then transported the man, identified as Howard Hays, to the Leflore County Jail. At the time of Mr. Hays' booking, booking records indicate the Leflore County Sheriff's Department had placed an investigative hold on him. Thus, Mr. Hays was arrested for another crime forty-six days after his release on parole.

         Hays Admits to the Burglaries at 6:30 p.m. on September 26, 2014

         Around 6:30 p.m. Detective Granderson went to the Leflore County Jail to question Hays. He obtained a signed waiver from Hays, who waived his rights under Miranda v. Arizona to decline to answer questions and to speak with an attorney prior to being interrogated. Hays later confessed to stealing the van and numerous items from the flower shop. Notably, he also told Detective Granderson that he was currently on parole. Detective Granderson informed MDOC that evening on the belief that the agency would want Hays to be held to determine whether his parole would be revoked. Detective Granderson also prepared affidavits and obtained the signature of a police court clerk on September 26.

         The Mississippi Department of Corrections Issues a Parolee Warrant for Hays on September 29, 2014.

         As Detective Granderson had informed MDOC of Hays's arrest on Friday night, MDOC responded on September 29, 2014, by issuing a “Warrant for Arrest of Paroled Prisoner, ” which directed that Hays be arrested, and, thus formed the basis for his continued detention at the Leflore County Jail. As a result, on September 29, 2014, Hays was detained based upon the MDOC's conclusion that he may have violated his parole. At that point, Detective Granderson believed that Hays could not be released, whether he obtained a judicial determination of probable cause for his arrest or not.

         Warrants Are Obtained on October 6, 2014, and March 30, 2015

         As of September 29, Detective Granderson believed that MDOC's warrant and the hold it placed on Hays meant that Hays could not be released. On October 6, 2014, Carlos Palmer, Greenwood Municipal Judge, issued a warrant for Hays' arrest. The basis of the warrant was an affidavit of probable cause prepared and sworn to the police court clerk on September 26, 2014. Additional warrants issued on March 30, 2015. The purpose of obtaining those warrants was to ensure that, following Hays's return from serving a term of incarceration for the revocation of his parole, he would be returned to custody to face the charges for which he was arrested.

         Hays Serves His Parole Revocation from October 6, 2014, Through April 4, 2015 ...


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