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Moya v. Garcia

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

February 13, 2017

MARIANO MOYA and LONNIE PETRY, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT GARCIA, Santa Fe County Sheriff, MARK CALDWELL, Warden of Santa Fe County Adult Correctional Facility, MARK GALLEGOS, former Warden of Santa Fe County Adult Correctional Facility, in their individual capacities, and BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF SANTA FE COUNTY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' RULE 12(b)(6) MOTION TO DISMISS AND FOR QUALIFIED IMMUNITY IN LIEU OF AN ANSWER

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) Motion To Dismiss And For Qualified Immunity In Lieu Of An Answer (Doc. 7) filed October 17, 2016.Having reviewed the relevant pleadings and the applicable law, the Court finds Defendants' Motion is well-taken, and is therefore GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This is a purported class action. The named Plaintiffs, Mariano Moya and Lonnie Petry, bring suit against Mark Gallegos, former Warden of the Santa Fe County Adult Correctional Facility (“SFCACF”), Mark Caldwell, current Warden of SFCACF, and Robert Caldwell, Santa Fe County Sheriff, (collectively “Individual Defendants”), as well as the Board of Commissioners of Santa Fe County (the “Board”). Plaintiffs claim Defendants violated their substantive and procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by detaining them for longer than fifteen days before their arraignment hearings. Plaintiffs seek enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs sue Individual Defendants in their individual capacities only, and bring a municipal liability claim against Board pursuant to Monnell v. New York Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).

         Plaintiffs were originally indicted by grand juries on unrelated felony charges in First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, New Mexico (“District Court”). The District Court scheduled arraignments, but both Plaintiffs failed to appear at these initially scheduled arraignments.[1]

         Specifically, on August 14, 2014, a Santa Fe County grand jury indicted Mr. Moya on criminal charges. On August 19, 2014, the District Court mailed a summons to Mr. Moya ordering him to appear for arraignment scheduled for August 25, 2014, eleven days after his indictment. Mr. Moya did not appear for his arraignment, so the District Court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. On September 15, 2014, Mr. Moya was arrested and booked into SFCACF.

         On September 23, 2014, the District Court docket reflects that the court was notified the arrest warrant was served on Mr. Moya. On October 27, 2014, a request for a second arraignment hearing was filed. The following day, the District Court issued an order setting the second arraignment for November 17, 2014.[2]

         On November 17, 2014, 63 days after his arrest, Mr. Moya was arraigned. The District Court set Mr. Moya's bond and entered an order that SFCACF release Mr. Moya from custody immediately.

         On June 25, 2015, a Santa Fe County grand jury indicted Mr. Petry on criminal charges. On June 29, 2015, the District Court mailed a summons to Mr. Petry ordering him to appear for arraignment scheduled for July 17, 2015, twenty-two days after his indictment. Mr. Petry did not appear for his arraignment, so the District Court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. On July 22, 2015, Mr. Petry was arrested and booked into SFCACF.

         On July 31, 2015, the District Court docket reflects that the court was notified the arrest warrant was served on Mr. Petry. On August 3, 2015, the District Court issued an order setting the second arraignment for August 21, 2015.[3]

         On August 21, 2015, 30 days after his arrest, Mr. Petry was arraigned. The District Court set Mr. Petry's bond, set the conditions of release, and entered an order that SFCACF release Mr. Petry on those conditions.

         The District Court docket shows that on August 25, 2014, prior to Mr. Moya's first scheduled arraignment, a public defender entered an appearance on Mr. Moya's behalf. Likewise, on July 16, 2015, prior to Mr. Petry's first scheduled arraignment, an attorney made an appearance on Mr. Petry's behalf.

         Article II, Section 13 of the New Mexico Constitution provides that individuals accused of non-capital crimes are entitled to bail if a court has not entered an order denying bail within seven days of incarceration after providing notice and an opportunity to be heard.

         Under NMSA 1978 31-1-5, “[e]very accused shall be brought before a court having jurisdiction to release the accused without unnecessary delay.” Section 31-1-4 provides that “[w]hen a warrant is issued in a criminal action, it shall be directed to a law enforcement officer, and the defendant named in the warrant shall, upon arrest, be brought by the officer before the court without unnecessary delay.” Section 31-1-3 states that criminal prosecutions in New Mexico “shall be commenced, conducted and terminated in accordance with Rules of Criminal Procedure.”

         New Mexico Rule of Criminal Procedure 5-303(A) provides that a “defendant shall be arraigned on the information or indictment within fifteen (15) days after the date of the filing of the information or indictment or the date of arrest, whichever is later.” Further, “[a]t arraignment, upon request of the defendant, the court shall evaluate conditions of release considering the factors stated in Rule 5-401 NMRA. If conditions of release have not been set, the court shall set conditions of release.” Rule 5-401 provides in part that a defendant must generally be released subject to the least onerous secured bond.

         Mr. Moya and Mr. Petry argue that under these rules and statutes, detainees in New Mexico courts have a liberty interest in being released pretrial on the least restrictive set of conditions. This liberty interest is effectuated by state law entitling them to an arraignment within fifteen days of their indictment or arrest, at which time the conditions of their release must be set or reviewed. Plaintiffs claim they were deprived of this liberty interest when they were detained for longer than fifteen days after their valid arrests but before their arraignment hearings.

         Plaintiffs allege the Sheriff and Warden share responsibility to ensure that persons detained at SFACF are brought before a district court within fifteen days of indictment or arrest. Plaintiffs further allege the Sheriff and Warden share responsibility for promulgating policies on behalf of Santa Fe County to ensure detainees be brought before a court within fifteen days of arrest or indictment. Mr. Moya and Mr. Petry characterize their claims as “overdetention” under Dodds v. Richardson, 614 F.3d 1185, 1192 (10th Cir. 2010).

         Defendants filed a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion To Dismiss And For Qualified Immunity In Lieu Of An Answer (Doc. 7) on October 17, 2016. Plaintiffs filed an Amended Response (Doc. 14) on November 14, 2016. Defendants filed a Reply (Doc. 16) on December 9, 2016.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move for dismissal of a case for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 8(a)(2), in turn, requires a complaint to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Thus, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Although a court must accept all the complaint's factual allegations as true, the same is not true of legal conclusions. See Id. Mere “labels and conclusions” or “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” will not suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “Thus, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court should disregard all conclusory statements of law and consider whether the remaining specific factual allegations, if assumed to be true, plausibly suggest the defendant is liable.” Kan. Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1214 (10th Cir. 2011).

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint for failure to state viable claims under Rule 12(b)(6), and in the alternative Defendants move for qualified immunity.[4] The Court thus first considers the viability of Plaintiffs claims. “The better approach to resolving cases in which the defense of qualified immunity is raised is to determine first whether the plaintiff has alleged a deprivation of a constitutional right at all.” DeAnzona v. City & Cty. of Denver, 222 F.3d 1229, 1234 (10th Cir. 2000) (quoting County. of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 841 n. 5 (1998)). The constitutional rights allegedly violated are Plaintiffs' substantive and procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. More specifically, Plaintiffs state they have a constitutionally recognized liberty interest in appearing before a district court within fifteen days of their arrest in order to have their conditions of release set. Defendants were responsible for ensuring Plaintiffs were brought before the court, but caused Plaintiffs to be unlawfully detained in excess of fifteen days.

         To sustain a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts showing the “conduct complained of was committed by a person;” that the person was “acting under color of state law;” and that “this conduct deprived [the plaintiff] of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981). As to all of Plaintiffs' claims, the parties do not dispute Defendants are persons who acted under the color of state law. This case centers on whether Plaintiffs were deprived of a constitutional right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

         The Fourteenth Amendment states: “No State shall ... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV. The Due Process Clause encompasses two distinct forms of protection: (i) procedural due process, which requires a state to employ fair procedures when depriving a person of a protected interest; and (ii) substantive due process, which guarantees that a state cannot deprive a person of a protected interest for certain reasons. See, e.g., Lewis, 523 U.S. at 845-46. Plaintiffs allege both substantive and procedural due process violations. The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         I. Substantive Due Process

         The Court first considers whether the facts Plaintiffs have alleged state a violation of a constitutional right, and concludes Plaintiffs have not done so. Plaintiffs must allege facts showing that these specific Individual Defendants, either through personal participation in the untimely arraignments or the promulgation of a policy, violated Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Brown v. Montoya, 662 F.3d ...


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