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Singletary v. District of Columbia

February 18, 2010

CHARLES SINGLETARY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, Charles Singletary, filed the above-captioned matter against Defendant, District of Columbia (the "District" or "D.C."), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). Singletary alleges that the District of Columbia Board of Parole (the "Board") wrongly revoked his parole based on insufficient hearsay evidence in violation of his Fifth Amendment due process rights and seeks to hold the District liable under Section 1983. Presently pending before the Court is the District's [6] Motion to Dismiss. In addition, the District has filed a [12] Motion for Leave to File a Response to Plaintiffs' Surreply. Both motions are now fully briefed and ripe for the Court's resolution. Upon thorough consideration of the District's pending motions and the parties' related briefing, the applicable case law and statutory authority, and the record of this case as a whole, the Court shall GRANT the District's [12] Motion for Leave to File a Response to Plaintiffs' Surreply, but shall DENY the District's [6] Motion to Dismiss, for the reasons that follow.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

1. Singletary's Arrest and Subsequent Revocation of Parole

In 1990, after having served more than seven years on a sentence for robbery, armed robbery and assault, Singletary was released on parole. Complaint, Docket No. [1], ¶ 8.*fn1

Approximately five years later, in June of 1995, Singletary was arrested for the murder of Leroy Houtman, a.k.a., Vaughn Stokes. Id. ¶ 10. Singletary alleges that he was not involved with or responsible for the murder. Id. ¶ 11. The case against him was ultimately dismissed at a preliminary hearing before the District of Columbia Superior Court, and the charges against Singletary were never brought before a grand jury. Id. ¶ 10.

In July of 1996, a little over a year after he had been arrested for Houtman's murder, the Board held a joint hearing to consider whether to revoke Singletary's parole and that of Gary Barnes, Singletary's alleged accomplice in the Houtman murder, based upon their alleged involvement in that crime. Id. ¶ 12. At the hearing, Singletary denied any involvement with or responsibility for the murder. Id. ¶ 13. The only evidence presented against him was (1) a narrative given by the prosecutor and (2) testimony by a police detective. Id. ¶ 15. Neither the prosecutor or the police detective who testified had first-hand knowledge of the facts. Id. Rather, most of the information described by the prosecutor and the police detective was based upon statements made by two individuals not present at the hearing; although these individuals were not identified by name at the hearing, they were later identified as Verdez Smith and Terri Washington. Id. ¶ 16.

Smith and Washington both claimed to have learned about Houtman's murder from another individual -- Carmelita Metts. Id. ¶ 17. Both Smith and Washington, however, had given the police inconsistent and conflicting statements. Id. ¶ 18. For example, Smith was originally identified by the police when Houtman's truck was discovered in his possession after the murder. Id. Smith initially claimed that someone named "Tony" had given it to him, but later admitted to having received the truck from Metts. Id. The police subsequently arrested Smith for Houtman's murder, at which point Smith again changed his story, claiming that Metts, his former girlfriend, had asked him to help her kill Houtman, but that he had refused. Id. Smith also told the police that Metts had later given him Houtman's truck to sell, as Smith had previous experience as a car thief. Id. Similarly, Washington initially denied any knowledge of the murder, but later claimed that Metts had confessed to her that she had helped Singletary and Barnes murder Houtman. Id. ¶ 18.

As indicated above, neither Smith or Washington testified at the parole revocation hearing nor were they identified at the hearing as the source of the statements against Singletary. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Indeed, no one with first-hand knowledge of the murder testified at the hearing. Id. ¶ 14. According to the Complaint, the testimony provided at the hearing summarizing Smith and Washington's testimony misstated some of the alleged details provided in their statements to the police. Id. ¶ 22. In addition, many details about Singletary's alleged involvement in the murder were never explained, including why he would participate in the murder and whether he even knew Houtman. Id. Nonetheless, on August 6, 1996, the Board revoked Singletary's parole based on the evidence provided at the July hearing and Singletary was re-incarcerated, spending the next ten years in prison. Id. ¶ 23-24.

2. Post-Revocation Legal Proceedings

Singletary filed for a writ of habeas corpus in the District of Columbia Superior Court in 1997, challenging the Board's decision to revoke his parole. Id. ¶ 35. That petition was denied by the Superior Court, which denial was affirmed on appeal by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Id. In 2000, Singletary again sought habeas relief before the District of Columbia Superior Court, but his request was again denied and the decision was again affirmed on appeal by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Id. ¶ 36.

Singletary then petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in a civil action captioned Singletary v. D.C. Board of Parole, No. 00-1263. Id. ¶ 37. The District Court denied his petition. Id. Singletary appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the "D.C. Circuit") in an appeal captioned Singletary v. Reilly, No. 04-713. Id. ¶ 38. On July 7, 2006, the D.C. Circuit reversed the District Court's denial, concluding that Singletary was entitled to a new parole revocation hearing. Id. ¶ 39-40; see also Singletary v. Reilly, 452 F.3d 868 (D.C. Cir. 2006). The D.C. Circuit found "that the hearsay presented at the hearing was not demonstrated to be ...


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