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Tyrah B. Brown and Keith A. Brown v. John Valdez and John Long

August 1, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge


On April 27, 2012, Plaintiff Keith Brown filed a motion asking the Court to reconsider the Order of May 15, 2011, which denied his earlier motion to reopen the case. (Dkt. 43.) Plaintiff argues that Defendants made false representations to the Court after Plaintiff's Motion to Reopen, and, consequently, the Court denied the motion based upon the misrepresentations. After review of the motions at issues, prior orders, and the pending motion, the Court enters the following Order denying the Motion to Reconsider.


Plaintiffs Keith and Tyrah Brown filed their Complaint on July 6, 2007, while they were being held on homicide charges as pretrial detainees at the Bonner County Jail. (Dkt. 5.) The Complaint alleges that Defendant Valdez, an Idaho law enforcement officer, ordered the forfeiture of Plaintiffs' property without affording them due process of law, and Defendant Long, a Florida law enforcement officer, seized the property without "probable cause, jurisdiction, due process, or any procedural protections." (Dkt. 5, p.3.) Plaintiffs claim the property was seized based on a warrant issued for theft and probation violation charges that were eventually dismissed. (Dkt. 5, p.4.) Plaintiffs alleged that, although the property was seized in conjunction with those charges, it continued to be held wrongfully for homicide charges that were filed subsequent to the seizures. (Id.)

On July 25, 2007, the Court issued its Initial Review Order, noting that Plaintiffs had an ongoing criminal case in state court, and the property seizures in question were valid under that case proceeding. (Dkt. 6, p.3-4.) The Court advised Plaintiffs to pursue their claim in the state court criminal proceeding, and then move to reopen this civil rights case "should they successfully challenge their seizure issues in state court, or should the state court matter terminate without a final resolution of the seizure issue." (Dkt. 6, p.5.)

Plaintiffs moved to reopen the case on August 3, 2007, stating that their case in state court had been terminated, and restating facts previously alleged. (Dkt. 7.) The Court denied the motion, stating that Plaintiffs provided "nothing but their own self-serving statements" and that the civil rights case must remain closed until Plaintiffs can show that the property did not remain seized on the homicide charges. (Dkt. 9.)

On January 2, 2008, via a Martinez Report, the Court was informed that the property at issue was not associated with the terminated state court case that Plaintiffs listed in their motion to reopen, but instead with pending criminal charges. (Dkt. 18.)

With this information, the Court issued a docket text order denying the reopening of the case consistent with the ruling in the Initial Review Order. (Dkt. 19.)

Plaintiffs moved to reopen the case again on March 13, 2009. (Dkt. 28.) The Court denied the motion, once again, stating that Plaintiffs have "still not submitted any evidence that they have been acquitted of the criminal charges or that the charges have otherwise been dismissed." (Dkt. 32, p.1.)

Plaintiff Keith Brown then filed another motion to reopen the case on December 6, 2010. (Dkt. 35.) In that motion, he claimed that he had filed a motion in state court for the return of property, but the state court failed to make a ruling on that motion. (Dkt. 35, p.3.) However, Plaintiff provided no evidence of that motion. The Court denied his motion to reopen, stating that his criminal proceedings were still on appeal, he provided no evidence of the motion he claimed to have filed in state court, and he was merely speculating about which property pertained to his case. (Dkt. 38, p.7.) The Court ordered the Bonner County Prosecutor's Office to file an updated Martinez Report in order to determine which property was at issue in each case, and who held the property. (Dkt. 38, p.8.)

After reviewing the updated Martinez Report, the Court issued an Order denying the motion to reopen and specifically addressing the property and cases at issue. (Dkt. 42.) The Court found that: (1) Mr. Brown voluntarily waived any interest in the cash at issue; (2) law enforcement officers did not act improperly in selling the assets at issue, and Mr. Brown should have filed a claim in the probate proceedings if he had a claim to that property; (3) Mr. Brown provided no evidence of ownership to any of the property at issue; and (4) Mr. Brown filed a "motion for release of property," but because the criminal matter was currently on appeal, the alleged failure by the state court to rule on a motion in the criminal case should be handled by the state appellate courts. (Dkt. 42.) The Court stated, "[n]o further motions to reopen this case will be entertained by the Court." (Dkt. 42, p.3.)

Plaintiff Keith Brown now brings a motion asking the Court to reconsider its denial of his most recent Motion to Reopen. (Dkt. 43.) In his Motion to Reconsider, Plaintiff argues that he should be relieved from the final order denying his Motion to Reopen Case because: (1) the opposing party misrepresented important facts to the Court; (2) the judgment is void because there was no judicial authorization for the seizure of his property after his arrest; (3) in earlier proceedings, the Court failed to address certain personal property and his Motion to Amend the Complaint; and (4) fraud on the Court was evident. (Dkt. 43.)


1. Standard of Law for Rule ...

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