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Martin v. State

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 31, 2016

JIMMY DALE MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, and OFFICER DOUG WILLIAMS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. 18)

          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Jimmy Dale Martin, an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction, is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action against one of the Oneida County Sheriff's deputies, Sergeant Doug Williams. Pending before the Court is Sgt. Williams's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 18), seeking judgment as a matter of law on all claims asserted by Martin. All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 14.)

         In the interest of avoiding delay, and because the Court conclusively finds the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the pending motion will be decided on the record. For the reasons that follow, the Court concludes there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that Sgt. Williams is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         At 2:55 a.m. on November 6, 2014, Sgt. Williams, received a telephone call from Justin Schwartz, another deputy with the Oneida County Sheriff's Office, who reported he had located a stolen 2010 GMC Acadia parked off the road on 100 West near Old Highway 191 in Oneida County. Aff. Williams, ¶ 3-4 (Dkt. 18-3 at 1-2). Deputy Schwartz reported the vehicle's passenger tire was shredded and looked like it had been driven on the rim. Id. Deputy Schwartz indicated also that a black Motorola handheld radio was found inside the vehicle and he confirmed with the owners of the vehicle that the Motorola device did not belong to them. Id.

         Later the same morning at 7:50 a.m., Oneida County dispatch received a telephone call from someone identifying himself as “Daly.” Id. at ¶ 5 (Dkt. 18-3 at 2). Daly asked if the Sheriff's Office had arrested Jimmy Dale Martin the previous night. At 8:30 a.m., dispatch received a call reporting a suspicious male walking on Old highway 191 near Canyon County Road. Id. Sgt. Williams responded to the location, identified Martin, and began to question him. Id. at ¶ 6 (Dkt. 18-3 at 2). When Sgt. Williams asked where Martin was headed, Martin stated he and his girlfriend had been in a fight, and she had “kicked him out of the vehicle” a few hours ago. Id. at ¶ 7 (Dkt. 18-3 at 2). Sgt. Williams informed Martin a vehicle theft had occurred earlier in the morning and the vehicle was abandoned near their current location. Id. at ¶ 8 (Dkt. 18-3 at 2-3). In response, Martin put his head down and stated “yeah.” Id.

         After asking Martin a few other questions, Sgt. Williams returned to his patrol vehicle and placed a telephone call to Oneida County Sheriff Semrad to provide him with an update. In the meantime, Sheriff Semrad had been informed of the investigation and had made a telephone call to Martin's girlfriend, Lisa Nicholas. Id. at ¶ 9 (Dkt. 18-3 at 3). Nicholas reported to Sheriff Semrad that she had dropped Martin off in Malad, Idaho the night before. Nicholas confirmed Martin had a small black radio with a flashlight attachment on his person when she dropped Martin off. Id. Sheriff Semrad informed Sgt. Williams of these details during their telephone call. Id. After the call, Sgt. Williams arrested Martin for the theft of the GMA Acadia and malicious injury to property. Id. at ¶ 10 (Dkt. 18-3 at 3). Sgt. Williams read Martin his Miranda rights, placed him handcuffs, and transported Martin to the Oneida County Sheriff's Office. Id.

         Sgt. Williams interviewed Nicholas after Martin's arrest. Id. at ¶ 11 (Dkt. 18-3 at 3). During the interview, Nicholas reported she had kicked Martin out of her vehicle at about 6:00 a.m. on November 6, 2014. Id. She reported she called a bail bondsman named Daly, although she could not recall the time she made the call. Id. During the interview, Sgt. Williams showed Nicholas a picture of the Motorola handheld radio found in the GMC Acadia. Id. at ¶ 12 (Dkt. 18-3 at 3-4). Nicholas denied that Martin's radio had a flashlight attachment. Id. Sgt. Williams asked Nicholas if she had Martin's radio so he could see what is looked like, and she responded: “No, I must have kicked it out of my truck or under the seat or something.” Id.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 13, 2015, due to his prisoner status, the Clerk of the Court conditionally filed Martin's civil rights complaint. (Dkt. 3.) In the Complaint, Martin alleges Sgt. Williams and the State of Idaho engaged in illegal profiling and harassment, and that Sgt. Williams defamed Martin's character. (Dkt. 2.) The Court's September 17, 2015 Initial Review Order permitted Martin to proceed on Fourth Amendment false arrest and false imprisonment claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and on his state law defamation claim against Sgt. Williams. (Dkt. 9.) The Court did not permit Martin to proceed on his claims against the State of Idaho. On March 3, 2016, Sgt. Williams filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking judgment as a matter of law on all of Martin's claims. (Dkt. 18.)

         STANDARD OF LAW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 directs the Court to “grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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). One of the principal purposes of summary judgment “is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims….” Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment is the “principal tool[] by which factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public and private resources.” Id. at 327.

         “The moving party initially bears the burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” In re Oracle Corp. Secs. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). “Where the moving party meets that burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to designate specific facts demonstrating the existence of genuine issues for trial.” Id. “If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of ...


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