Rice v. Garcia, No. 4:2013cv00835 - Document 19 (S.D. Tex. 2013)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, granting 11 MOTION to Dismiss in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, denying 7 MOTION to Add Party Texas Department of Criminal Justice, denying 9 MOTION to Withdraw, denying 15 MOTION for Joinder, denying 10 MOTION to Amend 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, denying 14 MOTION Motion for Sanctions - FRCP Rule 5 and 11(B). (Signed by Judge Sim Lake) Parties notified. (aboyd)
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Rice v. Garcia Doc. 19 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS HOUSTON DIVISION WILLIAM LESTER RICE, JR., SPN NO. 00500400, § § § § Petitioner, § CIVIL ACTION NO. H-13-0835 § § § § § v. ADRIAN GARCIA, Respondent. MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER William Lester Rice, Jr., proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and Notice of Standing for Indemnification et al. by a person in state custody ("Petition") (Docket Entry No.1) as supplemented by his Addendum-Material Information for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Docket Entry No.5) and Full Indemnification Demand (Docket Entry No.8) court is Sheriff Alternative, Judgment") Adrian Motion for Garcia's Motion Summary Judgment (Docket Entry No. 11). Pending before the to Dismiss, ("Motion for in the Summary For the reasons stated below, the court will grant Garcia's Motion for Summary Judgment and will deny Rice's Petition. I. A. Procedural History and Claims Procedural Background Rice was arrested on January aggravated assault with a 19, 2013, and deadly weapon in the charged with 337th Criminal Dockets.Justia.com District Court of Harris County, Texas. 1 of the Harris County Jail, the Board While Rice was in custody of Pardons and Paroles ("BOPP") filed a parole warrant requesting that Rice be "arrested, detained and housed until such time as he may be placed in the custody of an agent of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, or until Department of Criminal Justice, Pardons and Paroles "2 further order of the Texas Parole Division or the Board of On March 8, 2013, a Harris County Grand Jury no billed Rice for the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. 3 Rice remained in custody until April 19, 2013, when the BOPP withdrew the parole warrant. 4 On March 22, 2013, Rice filed this action seeking to be released from custody and asserting claims against Sheriff Garcia for false imprisonment, cruel and unusual punishment, prosecution, and double jeopardy (Docket Entry No. 1).5 malicious Respondent lComplaint, Exhibit 7 to Motion for Summary Judgment, Docket Entry No. 11-7, p. 1. 2Warrant, Exhibit 3 to Motion for Summary Judgment, Docket Entry No. 11-3, p. 9. Prior to his 2013 arrest Rice had been convicted of various offenses. Id. at 9. After Rice was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the BOPP moved to revoke Rice's parole and filed a parole warrant on the basis that Rice had violated his parole. Id. at 8, 9. 3Affidavit of Deputy Ron Cherry, Exhibit 3 to Motion for Summary Judgment, Docket Entry No. 11-3, p. 2 ~ 9; Order, Exhibit 6 to Motion for Summary Judgment, Docket Entry No. 11-6. 4April 25, 2013, letter from Deputy Ron Cherry, Exhibit 3 to Motion for Summary Judgment, Docket Entry No. 11-3, p. 13. 5Petition, Docket Entry No. I, p. 1. -2- Garcia filed a Motion to Dismiss, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment on May 3, 2013 (Docket Entry No. 11) Because Garcia relied upon matters outside the pleadings, his motion will be treated as a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (c). 19(a)" Rice has filed a "Combination Motion Rule 6 (b) (1) & (Docket Entry No.7), an Amendment to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Original "Motion to Dismiss Case with Prejudice or Motion for Change of Venue" ("Motion to Amend") (Docket Entry No. 10), a Motion for Sanctions - FRCP Rule 5 and II(b) for Sanctions") (Docket Entry No. 14), and a Motion for Joinder of Parties ("Motion for Joinder") B. ("Motion (Docket Entry No. 15). Petitioner's Claims Liberally construing his pleadings it appears that Rice seeks damages against Sheriff Garcia pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the following grounds for relief: 1. False imprisonment because Rice was detained "unreasonably, maliciously, and with reckless disregard for the truth or fairness" and "without investigation." 2. Cruel and unusual punishment because Rice was not released from custody after the grand jury returned a "no-bill" regarding the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but when the parole warrant was withdrawn. 3. Malicious prosecution because Rice (1) has not had sufficient access to a law library, (2) was not allowed to speak during the Grand Jury hearing, and (3) was prevented from "mounting an effective defense." 4. Double Jeopardy because Rice was not entitled to bail due to his history of prior offenses. -3- II. Rule 56 (a) Standard of Review provides that "[t] he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact matter of law." and the movant is entitled to FED. R. CIV. P. 56(A). judgment as a "An issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action." Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 Boudreaux v. (5th Cir. 2005). Once the moving party carries its burden of support for summary judgment "the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that summary judgment is inappropriate." Morris v. Covan World Wide Moving, Inc., 144 F.3d 377, 380 (5th Cir. 1998). not merely rest upon allegations, The nonmoving party may denials of its pleadings, and unsubstantiated or conclusory assertions that a fact issue exists. Id. Instead, the nonmoving party must "set forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue concerning every essential component of its case." Boudreaux, 402 F. 3d at 540 (quoting Morris, 144 F.3d at 380) . A pro se litigant's pleadings are to be construed liberally. Howard v. King, 707 F.2d 215, 220 (5th Cir. 1983). However, pro se litigants are not exempt from complying with rules of procedure and substantive law. 1981) . Birl v. Estelle, 660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. In reviewing this complaint the court takes the factual allegations of the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences and resolves ambiguities in the plaintiff's favor. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir. 2009). -4- ._------_... On the other hand, conclusory allegations or legal conclusions are "not entitled to be assumed true." 1937, 1951 (2009). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. To survive dismissal "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. at 1950 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007)) III. A. Analysis Official Capacity Claims Since Rice is no longer in custody only his claims for damages Rice sues Garcia in his individual and official remain pending. capacities. Rice's To the extent Garcia is sued in his official capacity, claims fail. Garcia, as Harris County Sheriff, is an employee of Harris County. A suit against a government official or employee capacity "generally represent [s] in his official only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent." (1985); Monell v. Kentucky v. Graham, 105 S. Ct. 3099, 3105 Dep't of Soc. Servs. , 98 S. Ct. 2018, 2035 (1978); see Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 195 (5th Cir. 1996) other words, "the real party in interest in an official-capacity suit is the governmental entity and not the named official." v . Mel 0, In 102 S. Ct . 358 , 361 ( 19 91) . Therefore, Hafer there is "no longer a need to bring official-capacity actions against local government officials, units can be sued declaratory relief." for under Monell, directly for supra, damages local government and injunctive Kentucky, 105 S. Ct. at 3106 n.14. -5- or A governmental entity, such as Harris County, can be sued and subjected to monetary damages and injunctive relief under Section 1983 only if its official policy or custom causes a person to be deprived of a federally protected right. 38. Monell, 98 S. Ct. 2037- A municipality may not be held liable under Section 1983 on the basis of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Id. Municipal liability under a Section 1983 claim requires proof of (1) a policy maker, (2) an official policy, and (3) a violation of a constitutional right whose moving force is the policy or custom. Id. Rice does not allege facts showing that he was denied any constitutional right as a result of an official policy or practice of Harris County. In his response to the motion for summary judgment Rice alleges violations of his constitutional rights, but he fails to present probative summary judgment evidence that a policy or custom of Harris County was the moving force behind the alleged violations of his constitutional rights. B. Individual Liability of Sheriff Garcia Rice also sues Garcia in his individual capacity. impose liability on Sheriff \\ [t] he plaintiff must Garcia in his establish either that In order to individual the capacity [sheriff] was personally involved in the acts causing the deprivation of his constitutional rights or that a causal connection exists between an act of the official and the alleged constitutional violation." -6- Douthit v. Jones, 641 F.2d 345, 346 (5th Cir. 1981). The Fifth Circuit has held that a county sheriff cannot be held liable on the basis of vicarious liability for the actions of his deputies. Baskin v. Parker, 602 F.2d 1205, 1208 (5th Cir. 1979). Rather, "[p]ersonal involvement is an essential element of a civil rights cause of action." Thompson v. Steele, 709 F.2d 381, 382 (5th Cir. 1983) . Rice asserts that Garcia acted "in collusion" with the deputies and bailiffs to interfere with Rice's "due process and fair trial rights. ,,6 Rice's allegations do not establish the necessary "personal involvement," and Rice fails to establish any other factual basis for imposing liability on Garcia. C. Motion to Add TDCJ Rice has filed "Petitioner's Combination Motion Rule 6 (b) (1) 19(a)" & (Docket Entry No.7) seeking to add the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("TDCJ") as a defendant. seeks to add TDCJ as a defendant To the extent that Rice to enable him to secure his release from custody, the motion is moot because Rice is no longer in custody. To the extent that Rice seeks to add TDCJ as a defendant in order to pursue a claim for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the motion will be denied because Rice has failed to state a factual basis that would entitle him to such relief. 6Mot ion to Amend, Docket Entry No. 10, p. 3. -7- D. Motion to Amend Rice has filed a Motion to Amend (Docket Entry No. 10). The facts alleged in Rice's proposed "amendment to petition R have been discussed where relevant in this Memorandum Opinion and Order. Because the additional facts he seeks to add by amendment do not raise issues of material fact that would defeat Garcia's Motion for Summary Judgment, Rice's Motion to Amend will be denied. E. Motion for Sanctions Rice filed a Motion for Sanctions alleging that Garcia sent trial documents to an address not belonging to Rice (Docket Entry No. 14) Motion Sheriff Garcia has filed a for Sanctions (Docket Entry Response in Opposition to No. 17). The court has discretion to impose sanctions upon a party acting in bad faith, that is, "for conduct that abuses the judicial process. R v. NASCO, Inc., 111 S. Ct. 2123, 2133 (1991). not persuaded that sanctions are Chambers Because the court is warranted, the Motion for Sanctions will be denied. F. Motion for Joinder Rice has filed a Motion for Joinder of Parties (Docket Entry No. 15). Rice seeks to join additional defendants who are court officials and are therefore entitled to absolute immunity for the performance of their duties. 995 (1976) i Imbler v. Pachtman, 96 S. Ct. 984, Clay v. Allen, 242 F.3d 679, 682 (5th Cir. 2001) (court clerks are also entitled to absolute immunity for acts they are -8- required to do pursuant to court orders). allege facts that would overcome the although, immunity of the proposed He also seeks to add Harris County as a additional defendants. defendant Rice's motion fails to as discussed above, he has failed to demonstrate that he was harmed by any official policy or custom. See Peterson v. City of Fort Worth, Tex., 588 F.3d 838, 852 Cir. 2009), citing Monell. (5th Rice's motion will be denied as futile. See Soliz v. Bennett, 150 F. App'x 282, 285-286 (5th Cir. 2005). IV. Conclusion and Order For the ,reasons stated above, the court ORDERS the following: 1. Defendant Garcia's Motion for Summary (Docket Entry No. 11) is GRANTED. Judgment 2. Rice's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a person in state custody (Docket Entry No.1), Combination Motion Rules 6 (b) (1) & 19 (a) (Docket Entry No.7), Motion to Amend (Docket Entry No. 10), Motion for Sanctions (Docket Entry No. 14), and Motion for Joinder (Docket Entry No. 15) are DENIED.? SIGNED at Houston, Texas, on this the 26th day of July, 2013. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE ?Rice has also filed a Motion to Withdraw/Strike-Motion for Expansion of Time and Amend Parties (Docket Entry No.9) Because Rice does not explain what he wishes to withdraw, this motion is also DENIED. -9-