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Davidson v. Megrota

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 31, 2019

JAMES F. DAVIDSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
ANUJA MEHROTRA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JAMES E. BOASBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff James F. Davidson, Jr. seeks damages from several officials involved in the revocation of his supervised release. He alleges that Defendants Anuja Mehrotra, Tarsha Jones, and Charles Massarone all acted improperly in the execution of an unjustified warrant that caused him to be re-incarcerated. Defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Agreeing, this Court will grant the Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff never responded to Defendants' current Motion. So while a court would normally view the facts in the light most favorable to him on summary judgment, there is only one sworn set of facts here. On August 14, 2009, Davidson was sentenced in D.C. Superior Court to twelve months of incarceration and twelve months of supervised release for distribution of cocaine. See ECF No. 14 (Def. MSJ), Exh. 1 (Superior Court J&C). After his discharge from prison, a long chronicle of supervised-release violations ensued, which the Court will not spend time rehashing. Id., Exhs. 4-23. Suffice it to say, he was still under supervised release when, as a result of one such violation, he was arrested pursuant to a warrant on August 8, 2014. Id., Exh. 25 (Warrant) at 1. On October 6, 2014, Plaintiff agreed to serve eight months in confinement followed by 42 months of supervised release (starting from August 8, 2014). Id., Exh. 27 (Resp. Revocation Proposal) at 1. After his release on June 22, 2015, however, his misconduct continued. Id, Exh. 32 (Warrant) at 1. The United States Parole Commission wrote an official letter warning Davidson about continued non-compliance on August 31, 2016. Id., Exh. 30 (Letter of Reprimand). Plaintiff did not heed this missive. Id., Exh. 31 (Warrant Application) at 3.

         Two years later, but still within his 42-month period of supervised release, he again violated his terms of parole. Anuja Mehrotra, an employee of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), submitted a report to USPC case analyst Tarsha Jones notifying her that Plaintiff had once again violated his supervised release. Id.; see also MSJ at 17; ECF No. 12 (Answer), ¶ 5. USPC Commissioner Charles Massarone then signed and issued a warrant for Davidson's arrest for using drugs, failing to submit to drug testing, and neglecting to report to his supervising officer. Id., Exh. 32 (Warrant); see also MSJ at 17. This warrant was executed on May 8, 2018. Id, Exh. 33 (Revocation Assessment) at 3. His supervised-release term was subsequently revoked, and he was ordered to serve twelve additional months of incarceration followed by eighteen months of supervised release. Id, Exh. 35 (Revocation) at 1.

         Plaintiffs suit challenges the legitimacy of this warrant. See ECF No. 1 (Compl.). He alleges that it was based on false claims and that the USPC lacked jurisdiction to execute the warrant. Id at 2-3. While he does not mention a dollar amount, he seeks “a jury trial to sue for pain, emotional stress and suffering cause [sic] by the following people.” Id at 3. Defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings or for summary judgment.

         II. Legal Standard

         As the Court decides the case on summary judgment - given that it considers material beyond the pleadings - it sets forth only that standard. Summary judgment may be granted if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that would change the outcome of the litigation. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (“Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.”). A dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion” by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).

         III. Analysis

         The Court looks first at the two USPC employees and then at the CSOSA one.

         A. Jones and Massarone

         Plaintiff does not specify whether his claims against the USPC employees - Jones and Massarone - are brought against them in their personal capacities or their official capacities. In either instance, they are immune from suit. 1. Individual Capacity Defendants first point out that they were improperly served in their individual capacities and that the suit should therefore only proceed in their official capacities. See Answer at 1 n. 1. While this may be true, Plaintiff is alternatively barred from proceeding against Jones and Massarone in their individual capacities (in what appears to be a Bivens action) because they are immune.

         USPC commissioners are entitled to absolute quasi-judicial immunity given the parallels between their activities and judicial duties. See Jones v. Fulwood, 860 F.Supp.2d 16, 22 (D.D.C. 2012); Nelson v. Williams, 750 F.Supp.2d 46, 52-53 (D.D.C. 2010), affd, 2011 WL 2618078 (D.C. Cir. June 23, 2011) (parole commissioners protected by quasi-judicial immunity from damages claim in individual capacity). As a USPC commissioner, Massarone is thus immune from suit.

         Several courts have also extended quasi-judicial immunity to other USPC employees. See Mowatt v. U.S. Parole Comm'n,815 F.Supp.2d 199, 206 (D.D.C. 2011) (dismissing claims against USPC case analyst who “assisted the Commission in issuing a parole violator warrant for Plaintiffs arrest” because these were “exactly the sorts of activities intertwined with the exercise of quasi-judicial power for which absolute immunity is afforded”) (citations removed); Anderson v. Reilly, 691 F.Supp.2d 89, 92 (D.D.C. 2010) (dismissing claims against USPC employees when they act in “a quasi-judicial” role and perform such quasi-judicial functions “in making a parole determination in [a] specific case”). Even if Jones is not protected by absolute judicial immunity, moreover, she would still be immune based on qualified immunity. Qualified immunity shields “government officials from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Ford v. ...


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