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Kapinski v. City of Albuquerque

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

August 19, 2019




         Plaintiff Anthony Kapinski moves for reconsideration of the Court's June 24, 2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's federal claims and declining jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state-law claim. Doc. 29. Plaintiff argues that the Court failed to draw all reasonable inferences from the videos at issue in his favor. Because Plaintiff misapprehends how the Tenth Circuit has directed district courts to consider the record in determining arguable probable cause and because Plaintiff does not at all address the second prong of the qualified immunity analysis, he does not demonstrate good grounds for reconsideration. The Court therefore DENIES his motion.

         I. Background

         Defendant police officer Terra Juarez swore out an arrest warrant for Plaintiff for double homicide after Plaintiff shot and killed two people during an altercation in a church parking lot. The altercation was recorded by two surveillance cameras, but Defendant Juarez did not describe the video footage in her affidavit or present the videos to the judge who signed the warrant for Plaintiff's arrest. A jury later acquitted Plaintiff on the charges of homicide. Plaintiff sued, bringing causes of action under § 1983 against Defendants City of Albuquerque and Terra Juarez for False Arrest and Imprisonment and Malicious Prosecution. Doc. 5 ¶¶ 36-45. Plaintiff also brought a claim against the City of Albuquerque under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. Id. ¶¶ 46-52. Defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims, raising the defense of qualified immunity. Doc. 17.

         The Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's § 1983 claims. Doc. 27. In doing so, the Court found Defendant Juarez did not violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights because, even considering the surveillance videos not referenced in the affidavit or shown to the judge who signed the warrant, arguable probable cause existed to charge and arrest Plaintiff. Id. at 15-17. The Court further found that, even assuming a constitutional violation, the law at the time did not clearly establish a duty to present evidence of self-defense in an arrest warrant affidavit. Id. at 18-23. In fact, the only cases addressing the issue have held the opposite: Law enforcement officers in New Mexico have no duty to present evidence of self-defense at preliminary criminal proceedings. Id. at 19-23.

         Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration focuses on a single paragraph of the Court's analysis. Doc. 29 at 2. In finding that Defendant Juarez' affidavit contained probable cause, the Court remarked that the surveillance videos “neither show nor definitively rule out whether, while fighting Aiden (Plaintiff's companion), Jordan [the second person Plaintiff shot] shoved the car door into Plaintiff.” Doc. 27 at 16. The Court concluded that, given the low quantum of evidence required for a finding of probable cause, “the videos provide probable cause to justify the arrest of Plaintiff for the murder of Jordan.” Id. at 17. On reconsideration, Plaintiff argues that “[b]ecause Plaintiff's interpretation of these facts as reflecting Jordan ‘slamming the door' is not ‘blatantly contradicted' by the video evidence, the Court must construe the video as indicating Jordan slammed the door on Plaintiff.” Doc. 29 at 4.

         II. Legal Standard

         Plaintiff styles his motion as a “Motion to Reconsider” but does not specify the rule pursuant to which the motion is brought. Doc. 29 at 1. Motions for reconsideration are not expressly provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Computerized Thermal Imaging, Inc. v. Bloomberg, L.P., 312 F.3d 1292, 1296 n.3 (10th Cir. 2002). These motions may be construed in one of two ways: if filed within the time prescribed under Rule 59(e), it is treated as a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e); if filed outside of Rule 59(e)'s time limit, it is treated as a motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). Id.[1] “The standard of review for either is an abuse of discretion.” Id.

         As Plaintiff filed this motion on the evening of July 22, the 28th day after the entry of final judgment, the Court construes his motion as a Rule 59(e) motion. “Grounds warranting a [Rule 59] motion to reconsider include (1) an intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new evidence previously unavailable, and (3) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Servants of Paraclete v. Does, 204 F.3d 1005, 1012 (10th Cir. 2000). “Thus, a motion for reconsideration is appropriate where the court has misapprehended the facts, a party's position, or the controlling law.” Id. “It is not appropriate to revisit issues already addressed or advance arguments that could have been raised in prior briefing.” Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. Local Rule 7.1(a)

         In Defendants' response to the present motion, they contend that Plaintiff failed to follow Local Rule 7.1(a) in filing the motion to reconsider. Doc. 30 at 4. Local Rule 7.1(a) requires the movant to determine whether a motion is opposed prior to filing and further provides that “a motion that omits recitation of a good-faith request for concurrence may be summarily denied.” D.N.M.LR-Civ. 7.1(a). While the Court acknowledges that some motions, by their very nature, will be opposed, there are no exceptions to Local Rule 7.1(a). Thus, even when an attorney expects that a motion will be unopposed, that attorney should seek opposing counsel's position prior to filing the motion. Plaintiff's motion lacks the required Rule 7.1(a) statement, and this constitutes independent grounds to deny the motion. The Court, however, chooses to reach the merits of Plaintiff's current motion to reconsider rather than having its fate turn on this rule violation.

         B. Plaintiff Did Not Waive His Argument.

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff waived his present argument for reconsideration because he did not dispute Defendants' proposed Fact No. 13; namely, that Plaintiff “sat down onto his driver's side seat.” Doc. 30 at 4 (citing Doc. 17 at 5). Because Defendants misapprehend Plaintiff's position, the Court rejects their argument. Defendants' Fact No. 13 was simply a quote from Defendant Juarez' summary of the surveillance footage. In other words, Plaintiff did not dispute that Defendant Juarez' police report stated that Plaintiff sat down onto his driver's side seat. Agreeing that Defendant Juarez wrote what she wrote is not the same as agreeing that what she wrote is accurate. And, Plaintiff proposed his own Fact No. R which stated: “The surveillance video shows that despite having seen Plaintiff shoot Francia, Mucher continued to hold Plaintiff's companion under his arm in a choke hold, approached Plaintiff aggressively, and pushed the car door forcefully into Plaintiff's body, knocking him back down into the car.” Doc. 21 at 4. Further, as Plaintiff points out in his Reply, while a person typically voluntarily sits down, it is ...

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