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Meredith v. Parr

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 19, 2019

MICHAEL PARR, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Steven D. Meredith is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why this action should not be dismissed due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint that are discussed herein. Plaintiff is also given an opportunity to file a proper amended complaint.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff alleges that he was charged in Riley County No. 17-cr-458 in late August of 2017. On September 8, 2017, he was released on bond. On October 28, 2017, the State's primary witness in No. 17-cr-458 “falls victim to homicide.” On October 29, 2017, Plaintiff is questioned by the Riley County Police Department (“RCPD”) detectives regarding his whereabouts for the previous week. Plaintiff requested counsel and declined to speak any further to RCPD detectives.

         On November 6, 2017, a warrant was issued in Riley County for Plaintiff “ostensibly” for KORA violations (No. 17-cr-673) and bond was set at $10, 000. On November 7, 2017, Junction City Police and RCPD execute the arrest warrant for Plaintiff in Geary County, Kansas. Plaintiff “sees [a] bearded man with handgun drawn and flees fearing for his life not knowing the man to be a Law Enforcement Officer.” (Doc. 1, at 8.) Plaintiff alleges that the bearded man had a gun in front of his chest, blocking the letters “Police.” (Doc. 1, at 13.) This “mistake” garners new charges in Geary County, No. 17-cr-970, which results in Plaintiff later pleading guilty to a single Class A misdemeanor charge of obstruction of the legal process. (Doc. 1, at 14.)

         On January 8, 2018, Assistant Riley County Attorney James Garrison is granted a motion to increase bond from $10, 000 to $100, 000 plus ankle monitoring for No. 17-cr-673, “filed under seal and granted without defense's knowledge.” Id. On April 16 and May 29, 2018, Plaintiff's defense attorney argued at two separate arraignments, requesting a bond reduction for No. 17-cr-673, and the requests were denied. On June 28, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion in No. 17-cr-673 for a bond reduction and the motion was heard and denied on August 20, 2018. On August 10, 2018, Plaintiff was charged with Murder in the 1st Degree in No. 18-cr-454 in Riley County and had his first appearance on August 13, 2018.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested without probable cause in Riley County No. 17-cr-673. Plaintiff alleges that Riley County officials used the KORA system as a way to conduct an investigative detention in retaliation for Plaintiff's failure to cooperate with an ongoing investigation. Plaintiff alleges he was unlawfully detained for ten months and then the case was dismissed on September 13, 2018-after he was charged in No. 18-cr-454. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants abused the intended purpose of the KORA system. Plaintiff also alleges that the Assistant County Attorney improperly moved to increase his bond due to him being a suspect in an uncharged homicide. Plaintiff alleges that this constitutes malicious prosecution, malpractice, unlawful detention, and a due process violation. (Doc. 5, at 2.) Plaintiff also alleges he was sexually assaulted by a correctional officer in Geary County.

         Plaintiff names as defendants: Michael Parr, Detective at RCPD; Robert Dierks, Detective at RCPD; Daryl Ascher, Lieutenant at RCPD; Shannon Ascher, Special Investigations Secretary and Kansas Register Offender Clerk at RCPDt; James Garrison, Assistant Riley County District Attorney; Barry Wilkerson, Riley County District Attorney; and the Riley County Police Department. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, a year of mental health counseling paid for by the RCPD, for the information gained during his detention to be destroyed and not used against him in No. 18-cr-454, and a remedy to fix the KORA system so that it is not used to issue warrants to detain individuals to gather information.

         II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).

         “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         A pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The complaint's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570.

         The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained “that, to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se plaintiff]; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed [the plaintiff]; and, what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

         The Tenth Circuit has pointed out that the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Erickson gave rise to a new standard of review for § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted); see also Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). As a result, courts “look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay, 500 F.3d at 1218 (citation omitted). Under this new standard, “a plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (citation omitted). “Plausible” in this context does not mean “likely to be true, ” but rather refers “to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of ...

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