United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE.
case returns to the Court after the Eleventh Circuit reversed
the denial of qualified immunity to Defendants Jailer Ashley
Lynn Mills and Captain John Staten. The parties have
submitted supplemental briefs and evidence, and the Court
will now analyze Mills and Staten's qualified immunity in
light of the Eleventh Circuit's Opinion.
September 29, 2017, the Court entered an Order granting in
part and denying in part Defendants' motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 109.) In relevant part, the Court denied
qualified immunity to Defendants Jailer Ashley Lynn Mills and
Captain John Staten, finding they did not have arguable
probable cause to justify continuing to detain Plaintiff
after she secured a bond. (Id. at 28-31.) Mills and
Staten appealed the Court's denial of qualified immunity
in the Eleventh Circuit. (Notice of Appeal, Doc. 111.)
Opinion filed on October 9, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit
reversed the denial of qualified immunity and remanded the
case with instructions to conduct an individualized analysis
of Mills and Staten's actions or omissions relevant to
Plaintiff's second detention. (Appeal Opinion, Doc. 116,
at 14; Alcocer v. Mills, 906 F.3d 944, 952 (11th Cir
2018).) The Eleventh Circuit held, however, that the
Court's September 29th Order correctly identified the
Fourth Amendment as the constitutional right implicated by
Plaintiff's second detention. Alcocer, 906 F.3d
Court and the Eleventh Circuit already recounted the relevant
facts in this case. Since remand, however, the parties
submitted additional briefs, and Defendants supplemented the
record with three affidavits. (See Docs. 124, 125,
126, 127.) Accordingly, the Court will review the relevant
facts in light of the supplemental evidence.
January 30, 2014, Plaintiff Judith Alcocer was arrested on a
misdemeanor driving with a suspended license charge.
(Incident Report, Doc. 94-2, at 1.) Plaintiff was then
transported to the Bulloch County Detention Center (the
"Jail"). Defendant Jailer Ashley Lynn Mills was the
booking officer tasked with processing Plaintiff into the
Jail's custody. (Dep. of Ashley Lynn Mills ("Mills
Dep."), Doc. 100, at 8, 10.) Mills asked Plaintiff basic
identifying information, such as her address, social security
number, driver's license number, and place of employment.
(Id. at 9-12.) Although the Inmate Information form
contained a space to enter Plaintiff's place of birth,
Mills did not enter this information. (See Inmate
Information Form, Doc. 57-5, at 1-3.) Plaintiff was, in fact,
born in Charleston, South Carolina. (Birth Certificate, Doc.
103.) It was the Jail's policy to fully complete Inmate
Information forms by asking an inmate for all the required
information, even when the arresting officer completed an
arrest booking report. (Dep. of John Staten ("Staten
Dep."), Doc. 95, at 22-23.)
Plaintiff was fingerprinted,  and her information was run
through the National Crime Information Center
("NCIC"), the Georgia Crime Information Center
("GCIC"), and the Automated Fingerprint
Identification System ("AFIS") databases.
(Defs.' St. of Material Facts, Doc. 57-1, ¶ 23.) A
short time later, the Jail received a fax from Immigration
and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") that stated:
"THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT DETAINER! THIS INFORMATION IS
FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT USE AND IS BEING PROVIDED FOR
INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS RESPONSE IS NOT SUPPORTED
BY FINGERPRINTS." (ICE Message, Doc. 57-5, at 5.) A
second portion of the ICE message read: "I.C.E. RECORDS
INDICATE THAT THIS SUBJECT IS NOT LEGALLY IN THE UNITED
STATES AND APPEARS TO BE SUBJECT TO REMOVAL
Sandra Kirkland was the supervisor at the Jail on January
30th; she recalls the ICE message being sent in two parts.
(Aff. of Sandra Kirkland ("Kirkland Aff."), Doc.
125-2, ¶¶ 3, 5.) The first part of the message was
received after Plaintiff's personal information was
entered into the Jail's system. (Id. ¶ 5.)
The second portion of the message regarding Plaintiff being
subject to removal proceedings was received a short time
later after Plaintiff's fingerprints were run through the
databases. (Id.; see also Aff. of John
Staten ("Staten Aff."), Doc. 125-1, ¶ 11.)
Although the fax confirmation sheet appears to contain a time
stamp for when ICE received Plaintiff's information and a
time stamp for when the fax was sent, the confirmation
sheet's formatting makes it difficult to discern whether
it corroborates Kirkland's affidavit.
reviewed the ICE message and informed Kirkland, who instructed
Mills to place a hold on Plaintiff and make a note in her
file that read; "CONTACT ICE IN ATLANTA GA FOR PICK UP
BEFORE RELEASING." (Inmate Information Form; Kirkland
Aff., ¶ 9; Mills Dep., at 40-41.) At the time the hold
was placed, Plaintiff had already secured a bond for the
suspended license charge. (Dep. of Susana Hinojosa
("Hinojosa Dep."), Doc. 96, at 12.)
arrest and processing into the Jail occurred between 2:00 PM
and 6:00 PM on January 30th. Mills's shift ended at 7:00
PM that day and she did not return to the Jail until after
Plaintiff was released on January 31st. (Mills Dep., at 42.)
The decision to place a hold on Plaintiff based on the ICE
message is what the Eleventh Circuit identified as the
"second detention" that implicated Plaintiff's
Fourth Amendment rights. Alcocer, 906 F.3d at 952.
all those events were occurring, Plaintiff sister, Susana
Hinojosa, was attempting to secure Plaintiff's release.
Hinojosa, on the advice of unidentified Jail staff,
secured a $2, 000.00 bond from a nearby bonding company.
(Hinojosa Dep., at 10-12; Bond, Doc. 57-5, at 21-22.) While
awaiting her sister's release at the Jail, Hinojosa was
informed by the bonding company that Plaintiff was subject to
an ICE hold preventing her release. (Hinojosa Dep., at 12.)
Hinojosa asked the Jail staff about the ICE hold and they
confirmed the hold prevented Plaintiff's release.
(Id.) Hinojosa pleaded with the staff that her
sister was a United States citizen who was born in South
Carolina, but her efforts were largely ignored. (Id.
at 12-13.) Hinojosa sought the staff's advice on how to
prove her sister's citizenship, but again the staff was
unhelpful. (Id. at 13-14.) Eventually, Hinojosa gave
up and left the Jail for the evening. (Id. at 14.)
next morning, January 31st, Hinojosa repeatedly called the
Jail until she was finally able to get a phone number for the
ICE office in Savannah. (Id. at 16.) Hinojosa called
the number and eventually spoke with Agent Franks, who
instructed her to take any documents proving Plaintiff's
citizenship to the jail while he investigated the matter.
(Id. at 20.) Hinojosa returned to the Jail around
noon with Plaintiff's birth certificate, social security
card, medical records, and school records. (Id. at
15, 23.) Hinojosa attempted to show the staff these
documents, but, in what had become a predictable pattern, the
staff refused to look at them because the ICE hold was still
in effect. (Id. at 23-24.)
same time, Agent Franks was attempting to resolve the issue
with the Jail staff. Later in the afternoon, he called
Hinojosa and informed her the Jail could not locate the ICE
paperwork they used to place a hold on Plaintiff. (Hinojosa
Dep., at 20-21.) Agent Franks further stated he sent a fax to
the Jail instructing them to release Plaintiff. (Id.
the scenes on January 31st, Jailer Deshaundra Toney was
reviewing Plaintiff's file. (Aff. of Deshaundra Toney
("Toney Aff."), Doc. 125-3, ¶ 4.) At the
direction of her supervisor, Toney called Defendant Captain
John Staten, the Jail's Administrator, to discuss the
Jail's policy regarding ICE detainers. (Id.
¶¶ 5-6.) Staten was on vacation in Jacksonville,
Florida at the time, but nevertheless took the phone call.
(Staten Aff., ¶¶ 3-4.) Staten confirmed that the
policy regarding detainers was "to honor an ICE detainer
for a period of up to forty-eight (48) hours while awaiting
ICE to take custody of the individual . . . . [I]f ICE had
not taken custody within 48 hours of the receipt of the
detainer, the individual must be released, if they had a bond
on any other charges." (Id. ¶ 6.) At no
point during the conversation did Toney relay the contents of
the ICE message to Staten; the only information she provided
was an ICE detainer had been issued for an individual
arrested on a suspended license charge. (Id.
¶¶ 4, 7, 9; Toney Aff., ¶ 9.) Staten and Toney
discussed the Jail's policy solely in the abstract.
the phone call, Toney made the note in Plaintiff's file
stating, "PER CAPTAIN STATEN, IF I.C.E. DOES NOT SEND A
HOLD ON SUBJECT BY 02/03/2014, SUBJECT CAN POST BOND. BOND IS
IN FILE." (Toney Aff., ¶ 7.) Toney assumed that
because the forty-eight hours would expire on the weekend,
Plaintiff's release should be scheduled for the following
Monday. (Id. ¶ 8.) Later that day, however, the
Jail received a form from Agent Franks titled Immigration
Detainer-Notice of Action, which requested the Jail
"[c]ancel the detainer previously placed by this Office
on 1-31-2014 [sic]." (Immigration Detainer-Notice of
Action, Doc. 57-5, at 6.) Based on this form, the Jail
released Plaintiff around 5:42 PM - about twenty-five hours
after she arrived at the Jail. (Inmate Information Form.)
These events form the basis for Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claim against Mills and Staten.
Eleventh Circuit's Opinion remanded this case for the
Court to "conduct an individualized analysis of whether
each defendant is entitled to qualified immunity."
Alcocer, 906 F.3d at 952. That appeal was taken from the
Court's September 29th Order addressing Defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
judgment is appropriate only if "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). Facts
are "material" if they could affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing substantive law, and a dispute
is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The Court must view factual disputes in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party, Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986), and must draw "all justifiable inferences in
[the non-moving party's] favor." United States
v. Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941 F.2d 1428, 1437 (11th
Cir. 1991) (en banc) (internal punctuation and citations
non-moving party has the burden of proof at trial, the movant
may prevail at the summary judgment stage either by negating
an essential element of the non-moving party's claim or
by pointing to specific portions of the record that
demonstrate the non-moving party's inability to meet its
burden of proof at trial. Clark v. Coats & Clark,
Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 606-08 (11th Cir. 1991). If the
moving party carries the initial burden, then the burden
shifts to the non-moving party "to demonstrate that
there is indeed a material issue of fact that precludes
summary judgment." Id. at 608. The non-moving
party cannot carry its burden by relying on the pleadings or
by repeating conclusory allegations contained in the
complaint. Morris v. Ross, 663 F.2d 1032, 1033-34
(11th Cir. 1981). Rather, the non-moving party must respond
either by affidavits or as otherwise provided by Rule 56.
Finally, a genuine dispute as to a material fact is said to
exist "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
Anderson, 4 77 U.S. at 24 8.
the qualified immunity doctrine, "government officials
performing discretionary functions generally are shielded
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." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818
(1982). Qualified immunity allows "government officials
to carry out their discretionary duties without the fear of
personal liability or harassing litigation."
Durruthy v. Pastor, 351 F.3d 1080, 1087 (11th Cir.
2003) (citation omitted). However, qualified immunity
"does not offer protection 'if an official knew or
reasonably should have known that the action he took within
his sphere of official responsibility would violate the
constitutional rights of the [plaintiff].'"
Holmes v. Kucynda, 321 F.3d 1069, 1077 (11th Cir.
2003) (quoting Harlow, 457 U.S. at 815).
officials bear the initial burden to show the alleged
constitutional violation occurred while they were performing
a discretionary function. Lee v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d
1188, 1194 (11th Cir. 2002) . Here, it is undisputed that
Defendants were ...