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Stoddard v. Wynn

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 10, 2016

KEITH STODDARD, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID WYNN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Keith Stoddard was arrested and detained for longer than he should have been on a warrant issued by the United States Parole Commission (USPC). He maintains this suit against a USPC case analyst for violating Mr. Stoddard’s Fifth Amendment right to due process of law. However, the Defendant enjoys absolute immunity because his job is quasi-judicial in nature. The Court will grant Defendant’s motion to dismiss.

I. FACTS

The well-pleaded facts alleged in the operative complaint must be taken as true in this procedural posture. Baird v. Gotbaum, 792 F.3d 166, 169 n.2 (D.C. Cir. 2015). Because Mr. Stoddard is pro se, the Court must also consider allegations in his opposition memorandum. Brown v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp., Inc., 789 F.3d 146, 152 (D.C. Cir. 2015); Richardson v. United States, 193 F.3d 545, 548 (D.C. Cir. 1999). The “operative complaint” in this case is best viewed as a combination of Mr. Stoddard’s Complaint, Dkt. 1, and his Amended Complaint, Dkt. 42. The latter is more supplementary than superseding; it adds “John Doe” defendant(s) but does not restate the core of Mr. Stoddard’s allegations, which remain only in the original Complaint.

On March 24, 2011, Mr. Stoddard was arrested in Virginia and charged with driving while intoxicated. Mot., Ex. A-11 [Dkt. 46-1 at 52] (Virginia charging documents).[1] At the time, Mr. Stoddard was on parole from a 1990 conviction for attempted sodomy/assault (D.C. Superior Court Case No. F13588-89) and for assault with intent to commit rape (Case No. F6657-89). See Mot., Ex. A-1 [Dkt. 46-1 at 7-8] (Presentence Report, Judgment & Commitment Orders).

On April 4, 2011, USPC issued a warrant charging Mr. Stoddard with again violating his parole.[2] Mot., Ex. A-12 [Dkt. 46-1 at 56] (4/4/2011 Warrant Application). Defendant Jequan Jackson, then a case analyst at USPC, prepared the warrant and an accompanying memorandum, Mot., Ex. A-14 [Dkt. 46-1 at 64] (4/4/2011 Memorandum). Mr. Jackson recommended holding the warrant in abeyance “because the Commission desires that the parolee continue to be supervised, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings, if the parolee is released to the community on bail or personal recognizance.” Id. at 1.

On April 15, 2011, Ms. Ai Van Phan, then a Community Supervision Officer at USPC, sent Mr. Jackson an Amended Alleged Violations Report. Opp’n, Ex. 1 [Dkt. 19-2 at 1] (4/15/2011 Report). Ms. Phan recommended that an expedited warrant issue for Mr. Stoddard’s arrest. Id. at 1. The Report noted Mr. Stoddard’s DWI arrest, but recommended his arrest for two other, unrelated parole violations: (1) illegal use of a controlled substance, to wit, testing positive for cocaine on April 1 and April 8, 2011; and (2) failure to obtain employment. Id. at 2.

On April 22, 2011, Mr. Stoddard surrendered himself for arrest. Compl. at 3. Importantly for present purposes, he was arrested under the April 4 warrant (for DWI in Virginia) and not for anything alleged in the April 15 Report. See Mot., Ex. A-13 [Dkt. 46-1 at 59] (Warrant, U.S. Marshall’s Return to USPC) (showing Mr. Stoddard’s signature on April 25, 2011 and referencing a “warrant application dated April 4, 2011”) (emphasis added).

From the D.C. jail, Mr. Stoddard sought assistance from the Public Defender Service (PDS). Ms. Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, then a staff attorney at PDS, wrote an email to an address at USPC for urgent communications: USPC_Urgent@usdoj.gov. Mot., Ex. A-17 [Dkt. 46-1 at 73] (5/24/2011 Email).[3] The email was forwarded to Defendant David Wynn at USPC. Mr. Wynn in turn forwarded the email to Mr. Jackson. Mot., Ex. A-18 [Dkt. 46-1 at 75] (5/26/2011 Email). Mr. Stoddard alleges not only that this request “fell upon deaf ears, ” but that Mr. Jackson “sought to remove or significantly alter [a] protected status by ignoring urgent communication from [his] colleague to cure the due process violations.” Compl. at 4.

On June 6, 2011, Mr. Stoddard petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. See Petition [Dkt. 1], Stoddard v. U.S. Parole Comm’n, No. 11-cv-1050 (A. Jackson, J.). Judge Jackson would ultimately dismiss the case as moot on December 14, 2011, because Mr. Stoddard had already been released. See Order [Dkt. 16], Stoddard v. U.S. Parole Comm’n, No. 11-cv-1050 (Dec. 14, 2011).

On June 30, 2011, Defendant Jackson drafted a memorandum with the following recommendation: “Release forthwith from the custody of the warrant dated 4/4/2011 and close case.” Mot., Ex. A-19 [Dkt. 46-1 at 78] (6/30/2011 Memorandum) at 1. That recommendation was accepted by signature one week later. Id. at 3. USPC issued a notice of action on July 6, 2011 ordering Mr. Stoddard’s immediate release. Mot., Ex. A-23 [Dkt. 46-1 at 93].

Defendant Jackson’s recommendation came one day late for Mr. Stoddard. Having been arrested on April 25, 2011, Mr. Stoddard was owed a combined probable cause and local revocation hearing no later than June 29, 2011. See 28 C.F.R. § 2.101 (requiring such a hearing within 65 days).[4]

Mr. Stoddard sued USPC, its Chairman, and the current Defendants. See Compl., Dkt. 1, Stoddard v. USPC, No. 12-cv-857 (Boasberg, J.) (May 25, 2012). Defendants Jackson and Wynn were never served in that action. Judge Boasberg dismissed Mr. Stoddard’s claims and admonished him to serve Messrs. Jackson and Wynn under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Mem. Op. at 2, Dkt. 22, Stoddard v. USPC, No. 12-cv-857 (Boasberg, J.) (Oct. 26, 2012). That led Mr. Stoddard to file the instant suit on June 13, 2013, naming only the current Defendants in their individual capacities. See Compl. [Dkt. 1].

In a previous opinion, this Court narrowed the issues in the case. Stoddard v. Wynn, 68 F.Supp.3d 104 (D.D.C. 2014). Mr. Stoddard’s claims under Bivens v. Six UnknownNamed Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) were dismissed because Defendants were acting under color of D.C. law for these purposes. Stoddard, 68 F.Supp.3d at 112-13. The Court held that Mr. Stoddard could proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and that he had adequately stated a claim for a Fifth Amendment violation. Id. at 113. The Court denied without prejudice Defendants’ claim of qualified immunity because “the record lacks sufficient material facts regarding Defendants’ actions and/or omissions with regard to Mr. ...


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