United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court upon Defendants former Valencia
County Detention Center (VCDC) Warden Derek Williams, VCDC
Warden Joe Chavez, Valencia County Sheriff Louis Burkhard,
former Valencia County Sheriff Rene Rivera, and Valencia
County Sheriff's Deputy Lawrence Montano's
(collectively, Defendants) “Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss and for Summary Judgment, ” filed on August
20, 2015. (Doc. 126). Plaintiffs filed a response on October 5,
2015, and Defendants filed a reply on November 11, 2015.
(Docs. 144 and 149). Having considered Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment, the accompanying briefs,
and the relevant evidence, the Court grants in part
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment.
Specifically, the Court dismisses with prejudice (1) the
remaining 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendment claims and claims for injunctive relief, (2) all of
the claims against Sheriff Burkhard, and (3) the Section 1983
individual capacity claims against former Warden Williams,
Warden Chavez, and former Sheriff Rivera.
Plaintiffs in these three consolidated cases, the Wilson,
Ortiz, and Sarrett cases, allege that in 2010 various law
enforcement officers within Valencia County arrested them and
others similarly situated without warrants and booked them
into VCDC. Plaintiffs allege that VCDC wardens then held
Plaintiffs and others without criminal charges having been
filed by the arresting officers or probable cause
determinations having been made by the magistrate courts.
bring Section 1983 claims against former Warden Williams and
Warden Chavez, in both their individual and official
capacities, for establishing a policy or custom of holding
persons at VCDC without pending criminal charges. Plaintiffs
also contend that former Warden Williams and Warden Chavez
trained their staff to accept inmates knowing that charges
may not get filed, thereby violating the Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendments. Finally, Plaintiffs allege that former
Warden Williams and Warden Chavez failed to supervise their
staff to prevent people from being held without filed
to former Warden Williams and Warden Chavez, Plaintiffs bring
Section 1983 claims against former Sheriff Rivera and Sheriff
Burkhard, in their individual and official capacities, for
establishing a policy or custom of allowing officers to
arrest people and then wait to file charges, thereby
resulting in people being detained without charges ever being
filed. Plaintiffs also contend that former Sheriff Rivera and
Sheriff Burkhard failed to train their staff not to violate
the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments by arresting
Plaintiffs Dustin Sarrett and Michael Wilson, Sr., and
others, without filing criminal charges. Finally, Plaintiffs
allege that former Sheriff Rivera and Sheriff Burkhard failed
to supervise their staff to prevent people from being
incarcerated without filed charges.
Wilson brings a Section 1983 Fourth Amendment claim against
Deputy Montano in his individual capacity. Plaintiff Wilson
alleges that Deputy Montano violated the Fourth Amendment by
failing to ensure that he received a prompt probable cause
determination by an impartial judge. Generally, a probable
cause determination is sufficiently prompt if it occurs
within 48 hours of an arrest. Cty. of Riverside v.
McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44, 56 (1991). Plaintiff Wilson
also brought Section 1983 Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment
claims against Deputy Montano, but the Court dismissed those
claims. (Doc. 53). Plaintiffs bring similar Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendment claims against other law enforcement
officers in the Ortiz and Sarrett cases.
addition, Plaintiffs bring claims for injunctive relief in
the Ortiz and Sarrett cases. The Court already dismissed the
claim for injunctive relief in the Wilson case. Id.
Facts Presented with Respect to Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss and for Summary Judgment
Affidavit of Former Warden Williams
was VCDC warden until August 2010. (Doc. 126-3) at 1, ¶
2. Neither he nor VCDC had a policy or custom of holding
detainees without prompt probable cause determinations.
Id. at ¶¶ 3 and 4. The policy at VCDC was
to require a probable cause statement and criminal
complaint when a detainee was booked into VCDC.
Id. at ¶ 6. VCDC policy was also to fax, on a
daily basis, a list of new detainees to the magistrate court
and to bring the detainees before the magistrate court at the
next magistrate court session and to each subsequent
magistrate court session until the magistrate court acted.
Id. at 2, ¶ 8. VCDC further faxed the names of
the named Plaintiffs every day to the magistrate court
“beginning on their arrest date and continuing to the
release date.” Id. at 4, ¶ 26. Former
Warden Williams did not know that any of the named Plaintiffs
were being detained without a probable cause determination or
were denied a hearing before a court. Id. at 2,
2007, former Warden Williams became aware that detainees were
not being “processed quickly enough.”
Id. at 2-3, ¶ 13. Former Warden Williams then
requested that the Valencia County magistrate judges issue a
directive to law enforcement agencies to leave copies of the
probable cause statements or criminal complaints at VCDC upon
booking. Id. In fact, the Valencia County magistrate
judges sent a letter dated November 28, 2007, to law
enforcement officials, including former Sheriff Rivera,
stating that it came to their attention that VCDC “does
not require a Criminal Complaint/Probable Cause Statement at
the time of intake to the facility.” Id. at 6.
That failure on the part of VCDC apparently became a problem
over the Thanksgiving weekend. Id. The magistrate
judges noted that they could not make probable cause
determinations within 48 hours after custody commences, as
required by Rule 6-203, NMRA 1998, without probable cause
statements and criminal complaints being “filed”
at the time of intake at VCDC. Id. Consequently, the
magistrate judges asked the law enforcement officials to
instruct their officers “to file the probable cause
statement, at the very least, if not the full criminal
complaint at the time of intake.” Id. The
magistrate judges also noticed that “many complaints
take several days to get” filed in magistrate court.
letter dated July 8, 2008, former Warden Williams wrote to
law enforcement officials, including former Sheriff Rivera,
that officers must present a criminal complaint and a
statement of probable cause to VCDC's records department
at the time of intake or the defendant would not be
processed. Id. at 9. Defendant Williams explained
that the purpose of this requirement is “to ensure that
defendants are afforded due process under the law, to
facilitate a probable cause determination and reduce Valencia
County's exposure to liability.” Id.
Defendant Williams decided to write this letter after
receiving the magistrate judges' November 28, 2007,
letter and after it came to Defendant Williams'
“attention that some law enforcement personnel was
[sic] not leaving the criminal complaints and the probable
cause statement at the detention center for each and every
detainee.” Id. at 3, ¶ 14. Former Warden
Williams also understood that under New Mexico law VCDC could
not release a detainee without a court order. Id. at
Affidavit of Warden Chavez
was first hired by Valencia County in February 2010 as Deputy
Warden at VCDC and then became the Warden in August 2010.
(Doc. 126-4) at ¶¶ 2 and 3. Neither Warden Chavez
nor VCDC had a policy or custom of holding detainees without
prompt probable cause determinations. Id. at
¶¶ 4 and 5. The policy at VCDC was to require a
probable cause statement and criminal charge when a detainee
was booked into VCDC. Id. at ¶¶ 7 and 8.
VCDC policy was also to fax, on a daily basis, a list of new
detainees to the magistrate court and to bring detainees
before the magistrate court at the next magistrate court
session and to each subsequent magistrate court session until
the magistrate court acted. Id. at ¶ 10. VCDC
further faxed the names of the named Plaintiffs to the
magistrate court every day. Id. at ¶ 24.
Chavez did not know that any of the named Plaintiffs were
detained without a probable cause determination or hearing
before the magistrate court. Id. at ¶ 13.
Warden Chavez understood that, under state law, he could not
release any detainee without a court order. Id. at
¶ 17. Moreover, “[c]opies of the probable cause
statement or criminal complaint were available to the
detainees and the magistrate court at any time after
booking.” Id. at ¶ 21. Magistrate judges
would, in fact, request a copy of the probable cause
statement or criminal complaint from VCDC “if a formal
copy had not yet been filed with the court by law
enforcement.” Id. at ¶ 25.
Affidavit of Former Sheriff Rivera
was Sheriff prior to the end of December 2010 and was Sheriff
at the time named Plaintiffs were arrested. (Doc. 126-2) at
¶¶ 2 and 3. Former Sheriff Rivera did not have a
policy or custom of allowing deputies to arrest individuals
and then delay the filing of the criminal complaints.
Id. at ¶ 5. Former Sheriff Rivera's policy
required that the arresting deputy complete a criminal
complaint and probable cause statement at the time of arrest
and present those documents to the arrestee at the time of
booking into VCDC. Id. at ¶ 6. Former Sheriff
Rivera also directed the deputies to present the criminal
complaints to the District Attorney's office for review
prior to filing them in magistrate court. Id. at
¶ 8. Former Sheriff Rivera understood that, once the
District Attorney's office approved a criminal complaint,
staff from the Sheriff's office would pick up the
complaint and have it filed in court. Id. at ¶
10. The District Attorney's office also indicated to
former Sheriff Rivera that it would “immediately”
inform the Sheriff's office of any problems with the
2008, former Sheriff Rivera became aware of untimely filed
criminal complaints and probable cause statements.
Id. at ¶ 13. Former Sheriff Rivera, therefore,
reiterated to deputies, through training, of the policy that
criminal complaints be completed at the time of arrest and
provided, along with a probable cause statement, to the
arrestee and VCDC at the time of booking, and that deputies
“immediately” transmit the criminal complaints to
the District Attorney's office for review. Id.
at ¶ 14. In July 2008, after the training, former
Sheriff Rivera instructed his staff to let him know of any
problems about untimely filed criminal complaints or the lack
of probable cause determinations. Id. at ¶ 15.
Former Sheriff Rivera was, thereafter, unaware of any issues
with untimely filed criminal complaints or lack of probable
cause statements. Id. at ¶¶ 15 and 16.
Furthermore, former Sheriff Rivera did not hear of any