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Martz v. Simmons

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

July 30, 2019

HOLLIS DEVIN MARTZ PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF BENNY SIMMONS, Sevier County, Arkansas DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Susan O. Hickey, Chief United States District Judge

         On May 14, 2019, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order (ECF No. 34) granting in part and denying in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19). Specifically, the motion (ECF No. 19) was denied as to Plaintiff's individual and official capacity claims against Sheriff Simmons for allegedly violating Plaintiff's substantive due process rights when Sheriff Simmons extended Plaintiff's detention without a first appearance. The Court advised Sheriff Simmons that it might be appropriate to grant Plaintiff summary judgment on these claims. Sheriff Simmons was given until May 29, 2019, to file a response on this issue. (ECF No. 34, p. 15). Plaintiff was also given until May 29, 2019, to file any further argument or documentation he wished for the Court to consider. (Id.). Sheriff Simmons filed a response (ECF No. 35) contending he that he remains entitled to summary judgment. (ECF No. 35). Plaintiff has filed objections to the response. (ECF No. 36). The Court finds this matter is ripe for consideration.

         BACKGROUND

         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Randall L. Williams Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”).

         Plaintiff was booked into the Sevier County Detention Center (“SCDC”) on April 28, 2016, and charged with criminal mischief in the first degree, possession of firearms by certain persons, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and terroristic threatening. (ECF No. 21-2, p. 22). On May 1 and 6, 2016, Plaintiff submitted grievances claiming that he was placed under arrest without a warrant, without any “paperwork, ” and without any legal charges. (ECF No. 21-3, pp. 2-3).

         Plaintiff's first appearance was held on May 12, 2016. (ECF No. 21-2, p. 23). On June 10, 2016, Plaintiff was transported to the ADC. (ECF No. 21-2, p. 25).

         Plaintiff's criminal trial was held on March 14-15, 2018. (ECF No. 1-1, p. 2). Plaintiff was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a certain person and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 144 months in the ADC. (ECF No. 28-1, pp. 1, 3). This charge had been severed from the other pending charges. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff received jail time credit for the thirty-three days he was incarcerated in the SCDC in 2016. (Id.). At the time judgment was entered on March 28, 2018, the other charges remained pending.[1] (Id.).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record “show[s] that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” Nat'l Bank of Comm. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. “They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.” Nat'l Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)).

         DISCUSSION

         The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment controls the issue of a pretrial detainee's right to a prompt appearance in court after arrest. See Hayes v. Faulkner Cnty., 388 F.3d 669, 673 (8th Cir. 2004). In Hayes, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit applied the framework set forth by the Seventh Circuit in Armstrong v. Squadrito, 152 F.3d 564 (7th Cir. 1998), in determining whether an extended detention following an arrest violated the Due Process Clause. Applying this framework, the Hayes court considered the following three questions: (1) whether the Due Process Clause prohibits an extended detention, without an initial appearance, following arrest by a valid warrant; (2) whether a defendant's conduct offends the standards of substantive due process; and (3) whether the totality of the circumstances shocks the conscience. Hayes, 388 F.3d at 673.

         I. The Original Summary Judgment Motion

         In their Summary Judgment Motion and supporting documents (ECF Nos. 19-21, 30), Defendants presented the following information regarding the handling of first appearances: (1) the SCDC had no written policy regarding first appearance hearings; and (2) according to Jail Administrator Chris Wolcott, “Former Sheriff Benny Simmons had no personal involvement in arranging for the Plaintiff's first appearance hearings on the criminal charges made against him in Sevier County.” Defendants presented no other evidence regarding any training that was done with respect to the timing of first appearances, or any internal safeguards, or procedures to ensure that the first appearances did in fact occur, or any steps taken to ensure the detention center had the authority to continue to detain arrested individuals. In view of this lack of evidence, the Court concluded that due to the failure to adopt adequate safeguards or provide training, it appeared both obvious and likely to result in the deprivation of constitutional rights. The Court further concluded that a fifteen-day detention before a first appearance, in conjunction with the showing Plaintiff had made, and the grievances he filed, shocked the conscience.

         II. Sheriff Simmons' Supplement

         In Sheriff Simmons' supplement (ECF No. 35), he presents for the first time his affidavit describing the training he provided to Administrator Wolcott and another affidavit[2] from Administrator Wolcott setting forth his efforts to obtain an earlier first appearance for Plaintiff. Sheriff Simmons seeks to excuse his failure to provide this evidence previously on the grounds that “counsel thought that the case law-which has never found a delay of 15 days or less conscience-shocking prior to the Court's Order in this case-would ...


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