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Sabeerin v. Fassler

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

May 20, 2019

BOBACK SABEERIN, MICHELLE ROYBAL, J.R. and S.S., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT DETECTIVE TIMOTHY FASSLER, in his individual capacity, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT DETECTIVE JOHN DEER, in his individual capacity, CITY OF ALBUQUERQUE, STATE OF NEW MEXICO, SECRETARY GREGG MARCANTEL, in his official and individual capacity, NEW MEXICO CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         A former inmate and his family bring this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has afforded Plaintiffs two opportunities to amend their complaint and to conduct limited discovery to identify and name “John Doe” correctional officer-defendants whom Plaintiffs allege withheld mental health treatment from Plaintiff Boback Sabeerin and interfered with his access to the courts. Secretary Marcantel, in his individual capacity, now moves for the third time to dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint based on qualified immunity. See Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 73.[1] In each motion to dismiss, Secretary Marcantel correctly argued that Plaintiffs must show that he violated Plaintiffs' clearly established constitutional rights. The Court, too, in its previous dismissal without prejudice of Plaintiffs' first complaint, alerted Plaintiffs to this pleading responsibility. The Court has done its best to hear Plaintiffs on the merits. But because Plaintiffs' response brief, now in its third iteration, fails to identify caselaw demonstrating that Secretary Marcantel violated Mr. Sabeerin's clearly established constitutional rights, the Court GRANTS Secretary Marcantel's motion and dismisses with prejudice all claims against him.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Some of the facts necessary to resolve the pending motion to dismiss are set forth in the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order previously granting Secretary Marcantel's and NMCD's joint motion to dismiss. See Mem. Op. and Order, ECF No. 38 (“Order”). The Court need not repeat all of those facts herein but adopts them by reference for the purposes of resolving the motion to dismiss. The Court presents the following additional facts taken from Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint and views them in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs.

         a. Mr. Sabeerin's Trials and Mistreatment in Prison

          In August 2009, Defendant Detective Timothy Fassler of the Albuquerque Police Department executed a search warrant on Mr. Sabeerin's business property in Northeast Albuquerque. The search turned up several stolen vehicles and evidence of a VIN-switching operation, so state prosecutors brought four criminal cases against Mr. Sabeerin for auto theft and similar charges.

         Before his first and second trials, Mr. Sabeerin unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence obtained because of the search of his property, arguing that Detective Fassler lacked probable cause to support issuance of a warrant. Although the state judge denied those motions, each time the court held a pre-trial motion hearing, NMCD correctional officers placed Mr. Sabeerin in solitary confinement beforehand. These placements in solitary confinement served no penological purpose. Rather, they were in retaliation for Mr. Sabeerin filing pre-trial motions to suppress and thus designed to dissuade him from filing future legal actions and chill his access to the courts.

         In August 2011, before Mr. Sabeerin's second trial, Lieutenant Rigdon and other officers dragged Mr. Sabeerin across the jail in his boxers and refused to let him shower for six days before trial. He smelled so bad at trial that the judge allowed his attorney to bring him a razor and towels to clean himself up. Like the placements in solitary confinement, Secretary Marcantel denied Mr. Sabeerin sanitary implements to dissuade him from accessing the courts. Secretary Marcantel “made the rules, regulations, and policies which were enforced to obtain this effect.” In addition, Secretary Marcantel was “deliberately indifferent to the substantial risk to [Mr. Sabeerin's] health and safety so as to restrict [his] ability to access the courts.”

         b. Mr. Sabeerin's Repeat Placements in Solitary Confinement

         As noted, every time the state court held a pre-trial motion hearing or before one of his cases went to trial Mr. Sabeerin was placed in solitary confinement. He was segregated in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Detention Center from February 10-17, 2010; July 18-24, 2010; July 27-September 1, 2010. In addition, he was placed in solitary confinement at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas, New Mexico from May 18-24, 2010 September - October, 2010; December 11 - January 12, 2011, and November 1, 2015 - November 15, 2015.

         c. Mr. Sabeerin's Detention in Solitary Confinement Motivates Him to Plead Guilty

         Juries found Mr. Sabeerin guilty in his first two criminal cases. Mr. Sabeerin pleaded guilty to the remaining two consolidated charges to reduce his sentencing exposure, and he was sentenced to a total of 27 years in jail. However, his previous placements in solitary confinement pressured him to plead guilty. He “was so terrified of the effects of this solitary confinement had had on him, and when combined with cyclical application of drugs, he simply could not maintain his defense against” the future prosecutions “without inhumane suffering.” Solitary confinement was so harsh that Mr. Sabeerin “was forced to plead guilty to certain indictments simply to avoid further solitary confinement which was making him ill.” The “intended effect” of Secretary Marcantel's policies and procedures governing solitary confinement and the “moving reason” for Secretary Marcantel's decision to place Mr. Sabeerin in solitary confinement were to penalize him for accessing the legal system. His mental disorders, including his bi-polar condition, made him particularly vulnerable to the effects of being segregated. Mr. Sabeerin's placement in solitary confinement exacerbated his pre-existing mental disabilities and created new ones, likes post-traumatic stress disorder.

         d. Inconsistent Administration of Mr. Sabeerin's Psychiatric Medications

          Solitary confinement produced increasingly severe mental and psychiatric issues in Mr. Sabeerin and he was enrolled in the chronic psychiatry program. Prison officials inconsistently administered his medications while he was in solitary confinement, thereby worsening his mental health. Officials increased his prescriptions to control his legal filings, resulting in long periods without sleep and a deterioration in Mr. Sabeerin's mental health. Sometimes Mr. Sabeerin would go two or three weeks without medications because his appointments were canceled. Mr. Sabeerin contends that “[p]rison solitary records, and medical records, constantly memorialize these complaints about the incarceration in solitary, and the psychiatric problems being caused by it, as being a result of the stress brought on by his, ‘legal activities.'” Secretary Marcantel's policies and procedures were used to “render [Mr. Sabeerin] mentally unfit … and cause him harm. Defendant Marcantel's adoption of these policies, procedures, rules, and regulations were deliberate and intentional, and he knew and understood their effect.”

         e. Retaliation against Mr. Sabeerin for Pursuing ...


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