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Tanner v. Schriever

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 29, 2019

STEVE TANNER Petitioner,




         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Steve Tanner's Motion requesting ECF Notifications (Dkt. 41) and Motion to Compel (Dkt. 42). Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motion without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1)(B).


         Idaho Fish and Game (“IFG”), a government agency, utilizes wildlife check stations to manage Idaho's wildlife resources. At these wildlife check stations, IFG officers stop all vehicles passing through and inquire if the driver and/or passengers have been hunting, fishing, or trapping. If the answer is no, the officers ask no further questions and the vehicle proceeds on its way. These stops are rarely longer than a few seconds. If the answer is yes, the officers spend a few minutes collecting data, receiving public input, and, if necessary, enforcing state laws that pertain to the management and conservation of wildlife resources.

         In the early evening of November 18, 2017, Tanner was traveling southbound on Meadow Creek Road, located in Boundary County. At that time, Defendants Lucas Swanson, Josh Stanley, and Brian Johnson, employees of IFG, were operating a wildlife check station on Meadow Creek Road. As Tanner arrived at this station, he proceeded around it without stopping. Defendants Swanson and Stanley pursued Tanner in their patrol vehicle and arrested him for failing to stop at the check station.


         “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). If a party served with discovery fails to adequately respond, the serving party may file a motion to compel pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a). A court has broad discretion in deciding whether to compel discovery. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. General Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         As an initial matter, Tanner requests Notice of Electronic Filings (“NEF”) and the ability to e-file documents.[1] Tanner argues that the trip to the nearest courthouse is time consuming and costly, and that he does not wish to be delayed by mailing his filings or by having any other filings mailed to him.

         Typically, the Court does not send NEF to pro se parties, neither does it allow pro se parties to e-file documents.[2] The Court sees no reason to differ from its policy here. Tanner has done well with his current options thus far; he may continue to file in person or he may elect to mail in his filings. Any delay in Tanner's filings does not create an uneven playing field, as he argues, because how or when he files a document does not affect how the Court reviews that document. Thus, based on the Court's longstanding policy and Tanner's current abilities, his Motion for ECF Notifications (Dkt. 41) is DENIED.

         The Court now turns to Tanner's Motion to Compel. In this motion, Tanner makes several arguments regarding a variety of IFG's responses. The Court will address each in the order Tanner argues them.

         1. Swanson's Response to Request for Admission 45[3]

         In this discovery request, Tanner seeks to establish Swanson as the person who created certain audio recordings. Swanson admitted that the conversations were recorded but does not admit whether he was the one who recorded any of them. In Tanner's opinion, this response is inadequate, and the Court should deem it as admitted.

         The Court understands Swanson's error, but determines that the response was inadequate as it does not directly answer Tanner's request. Thus, the portion of Tanner's motion that relates to Swanson's Response to Request for Admission No. 45 is GRANTED in PART and DENIED in PART. The Court will not order that the matter is admitted but elects instead to order an amended answer. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(6). Swanson is hereby ordered to amend his response and must admit or deny whether he recorded the incident at Three Mile Gas Station.

         2. IFG Director Ed Schriever's Responses to Requests for Production 25-26

         In this request, Tanner seeks all documents as to the time, date, and location of all IFG game check stations that were classified as an “ALL traffic stop” from September 25, 2013 to May 1, 2019.[4] Schriever objected to the request as being overbroad and disproportionate to the needs of the case but provided Tanner with the requested documentation anyway.

         Tanner acknowledges that Schriever has provided these documents but makes two separate arguments against them. First, Tanner believes that Schriever's objections are improper because the breadth and the proportionality of his request are appropriate. Second, Tanner feels that the responses are lacking and seeks independent certification that Schriever has complied with his discovery request. Considering how Tanner uses these arguments throughout his motion, the Court will analyze them separately here.

         a. Appropriateness of Objections

         Both the Court and Tanner view this case as one dealing primarily with Tanner's rights under the Fourth Amendment.[5] The Court agrees with Tanner that constitutional rights are of the utmost importance. Further, the importance of these rights factor into the scope of discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) (explaining that the scope of discovery “consider[s] the importance of the issues at stake in the action”). This does not, however, give Tanner carte blanche to demand that IFG complies with every request he feels is appropriate. Even though IFG may have violated his constitutional rights, the scope of discovery must still have a limit.

         For example, in one of Tanner's requests he seeks IFG's policies regarding the wildlife check stations from 1975 to the present day. Though this request will lead to more facts, Tanner's success in this case does not rely on what IFG's policies were nearly forty-five years ago. The issue here is not how many times IFG may have violated Idahoans' rights over the past forty-five years, but if IFG's practice of stopping non-sportsmen violated constitutional rights at all. Whether IFG utilized 10, 000 checkpoints or one, Tanner must show that when he was stopped his constitutional rights were violated. Tanner does not allege-nor could he-that IFG stopped him at every one of these checkpoints from September 25, 2013 to May 1, ...

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