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Sharkey v. Humphreys County

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

March 25, 2019

JAMES ARTHUR SHARKEY PLAINTIFF
v.
HUMPHREYS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court in this civil rights action is Sean Williams' motion for summary judgment. Doc. #12.

         I

         Procedural History

         On February 9, 2018, James Arthur Sharkey, with the assistance of counsel, filed a complaint in this Court against (1) Humphreys County, Mississippi; (2) J.D. Roseman, in his individual capacity and official capacity as sheriff of Humphreys County; and (3) Sean Williams, in his individual capacity and official capacity as deputy sheriff of Humphreys County. Doc. #1. The complaint alleges state and federal claims arising from an allegedly unlawful arrest of Sharkey by Williams, which included the use of excessive force. Id. at 2-5. The defendants jointly answered the complaint on March 5, 2018. Doc. #8.

         On April 9, 2018, Williams, asserting the defense of qualified immunity, filed a motion seeking summary judgment on the claims brought against him in his individual capacity. Doc. #12. That day, United States Magistrate Judge Jane M. Virden stayed the case pending a decision on the summary judgment motion. Doc. #14.

         Three days later, Sharkey's counsel filed a motion to withdraw due to “a fundamental difference between himself and … Sharkey ….” Doc. #15. On April 30, 2018, Judge Virden granted Sharkey's counsel's motion to withdraw, and provided Sharkey “thirty (30) days to obtain other counsel … or notify the court that he intends to proceed pro se in the above styled cause.” Doc. #18 at 1. Sharkey, though not obtaining other counsel, did not file a notice within thirty days.

         On May 31, 2018, the defendants moved to dismiss Sharkey's claims for his failure to comply with a court order. Doc. #19. On June 13, 2018, the Court received from Sharkey a document dated May 29, 2018. Doc. #20. Although less than clear, the document, which listed claims Sharkey wished to pursue, appeared to be a response to Judge Virden's April 30 order. See id. On June 22, 2018, Judge Virden issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) finding that Sharkey's filing “however off center, does not signal to the court that the plaintiff has abandoned his claims or ignored the court's order.” Doc. #21 at 2. Thus, the R&R recommended that the motion to dismiss be denied and that “Plaintiff be given one last opportunity to properly comply with the court's order.” Id. at 3. To that end, the R&R directed that Sharkey “within (14) days of today's date, comply with the [18] order of the court to retain new counsel, or to inform the court that he will proceed pro se, or show cause why his cause should not be dismissed, sua sponte, for failure to comply.” Id. at 1. On July 11, 2018, this Court received from Sharkey a document dated July 6, 2018, which states that he is proceeding pro se and appears to respond to the motion for summary judgment with medical records and a series of unsworn declarations. Docs. #22, #22-1.

         On October 1, 2018, this Court by order adopted the R&R and denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. Doc. #23. The order provided, “Sharkey may file a response to Williams' motion for summary judgment within fourteen (14) days of this order.” Id. at 3.

         On or about October 16, 2018, Sharkey filed a handwritten document which the Clerk of the Court docketed as an objection to the R&R but, in substance, is a motion for a pretrial conference. Doc. #24. Shortly after, on November 5, 2018, the defendants moved to strike Sharkey's October 16 motion. Doc. #25.

         II

         Motion for Pretrial Conference and Motion to Strike

         Sharkey's handwriting is difficult to parse. However, it appears his October 16 motion states:

Your Honor, I James Arthur Sharkey; request for a motion for pre-trial conference using our adversary system. Rules of law that will warrant a fair proceeding and using perjury to the fullest extent of the law, I believe that our country is obligated to expose law enforcement officers that obstruct justice instead of enforce justice, not having probable cause only proximate cause. I have prepared my witnesses to testify on my behalf, including my brother Charles Edward Sharkey, the Humphrey County Sheriff Department called my brother while he and his wife were shopping to come to the Sheriff Department in an attempt after lying on the offender report. I and my brother believe that it was an ...

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