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Newcomb v. Oktibbeha County

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

March 20, 2018

DAN DEWAYNE NEWCOMB PLAINTIFF
v.
OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Dan Dewayne Newcomb, 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 violated his constitutional rights by arresting him without probable cause, falsely imprisoning him, failing to take him promptly before a judge after arrest, and failing to ensure that he was promptly appointed an attorney. For the reasons set forth below, the instant case will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

         Factual Allegations

         After the court adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, the following claims remained for the plaintiff:

(1) That Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, failed to implement a policy to ensure that criminal defendants are presented expeditiously to a judge after arrest;
(2) That Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, failed to implement a policy to ensure that criminal defendants are promptly appointed counsel once they are found to be paupers; and
(3) That Detective Stephanie Perkins failed to bring the plaintiff before a neutral and detached magistrate in a timely fashion after he was arrested.

         The court also permitted the plaintiff to amend his complaint to include the claims that Starkville Police Captain John Doe and the City of Starkville caused his false arrest, false imprisonment, and delay in appointment of defense counsel through “negligence and failure to supervise and control” subordinate police officers.

         Discussion

         The plaintiff's complaint involves three related incidents: (1) his arrest on charges for which the statute of limitations had expired; (2) his (mistaken) belief that he was not promptly taken before a judge after his arrest; and (3) the delay between the court's determination that he was a pauper and his contact with appointed counsel. None of these claims has merit.

         Arrest on Charges for Which the Statute of Limitations Had Expired

         When he arrived in Starkville, Mississippi, on November 17, 2015, to turn himself in, Mr. Newcomb was arrested on the charge of incest, or “Adultery and Fornication Between Persons Forbidden to Intermarry.” Miss. Code Ann. § 97-29-5. Those charges arose on August 10, 2013; as such, he was arrested on those charges some three months after the two-year limitations period under Miss. Code Ann. § 99-1-5 for that crime had expired. Mr. Newcomb argues that the arresting officers and others knew, or should have known, that he could not be charged with that crime after the limitations period had expired. Thus, he argues that the defendants arrested him without probable cause. As discussed below, he is mistaken.

         Probable cause to arrest exists when, at the time of arrest, the facts and circumstances within the knowledge of the arresting officer are sufficient to cause a police officer of reasonable caution to believe an offense has been or is being committed.[1] See Duckett v. Cedar Park, 950 F.2d 272, 278 (5th Cir.1992) (citing Eugene v. Alief Indep. Sch. Dist., 65 F.3d 1299, 1305 (5th Cir. 1995)). The probable cause requirement does not mandate any showing that such a belief is correct or more likely true than false. Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144, 99 S.Ct. 2689, 61 L.Ed.2d 433 (1979).

         A sheriff executing an arrest warrant is not required by the Constitution to independently investigate every claim of innocence. Id. “The Constitution does not guarantee that only the guilty will be arrested. If it did, § 1983 would provide a cause of action for every defendant acquitted - indeed, for every suspect released.” Baker, 443 U.S. at 145. A person arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by a magistrate on a showing of probable ...


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