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Ardis v. Hughes

United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama, Southern Division

August 8, 2014

OSCAR ARDIS, Plaintiff,
ANDY HUGHES, et. al., Defendants.




The plaintiff, Oscar Ardis (“Ardis”), who is proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on October 24, 2013 alleging that Andy Hughes, Houston County Sheriff and Douglas Valeska, District Attorney for Houston County violated his constitutional rights by arresting him and holding him in the Houston County jail for 32 days for “charges that had previously been resolved and dismissed by the court.” See Complaint (Doc. 1 at p. 1). He brings a claim for violation of the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and a common law claim for malicious prosecution. The District Judge referred this case to the Magistrate Judge for all pretrial proceedings and recommendation. (Doc. 3).

Now pending before the court is Defendant Douglas Valeska’s Motion to Dismiss, as amended, filed November 22, 2013, (Docs. 12 and 14) and Defendant Andy Hughes’ Motion for Summary Judgment filed December 18, 2013, (Doc. 22) and supporting brief and exhibits filed December 18, 2013 (Doc. 23) to which Plaintiff filed a response with exhibits on April 10, 2014 (Doc. 35) Also before the court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Proceed filed March 31, 2014 (Doc. 31), which was filed in response to this court’s Order noting the dismissal of two other similar actions filed by Plaintiff and asking Plaintiff to inform the court of his intent to proceed with the instant action. (Doc. 30). The court has carefully reviewed the motion for summary judgment, the briefs filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, and the supporting and opposing evidentiary materials and concludes that the motion is due to be granted.


Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. This standard can be met by the movant, in a case in which the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial rests on the nonmovant, either by submitting affirmative evidence negating an essential element of the nonmovant’s claim, or by demonstrating that the nonmovant’s evidence itself is insufficient to establish an essential element of his or her claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Jeffery v Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593 (11th Cir. 1995); Edwards v. Wallace Cmty Coll., 49 F.3d 1517, 1521 (11th Cir. 1995).

The burden then shifts to the nonmovant to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an essential element of his claims, and on which he bears the burden of proof at trial. Id. To satisfy this burden, the nonmovant cannot rest on the pleadings, but must, by affidavit or other means, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

The court’s function in deciding a motion for summary judgment is to determine whether there exist genuine, material issues of fact to be tried; and if not, whether the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Dominick v. Dixie Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 809 F.2d 1559 (11th Cir. 1987). It is substantive law that identifies those facts which are material on motions for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 258 (1986); See also DeLong Equip. Co. v. Washington Mills Abrasive Co., 887 F.2d 1499 (11th Cir. 1989).

When the court considers a motion for summary judgment, it must refrain from deciding any material factual issues. All the evidence and the inferences drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Earley v. Champion Int’l Corp., 907 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir. 1990). See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The movant bears the exacting burden of demonstrating that there is no dispute as to any material fact in the case. Warrior Tombigbee Transp. Co. v. M/V Nan Fung, 695 F.2d 1294, 1296 (11th Cir. 1983).


Ardis was arrested by a Houston County Sheriff’s deputy on August 9, 2013, pursuant to five outstanding arrest warrants issued by the Circuit Court of the 20th Judicial Circuit of the State of Alabama in Houston County. Although Ardis names Sheriff Andy Hughes as a defendant, Ardis makes no allegations that Sheriff Hughes ever had any contact with him or took any action against him. Indeed, Sheriff Hughes denies that he was “personally or directly involved in the factual events made the basis of Plaintiff’s complaint.” (Doc. 23, Ex.1, Affid of Sheriff Hughes at p.2).

According to the records, the five outstanding warrants were all Alias Warrants and were all issued as a result of the Plaintiff’s failure to appear “on the charge of: Probation Rev[ocation]- Felony” relative to five separate criminal cases. (See Doc. 23 Ex. A- F). As the records reflect, about fourteen years after the alias warrants were originally issued, Circuit Judge Michael Conaway entered orders placing four of the five pending criminal court cases on his “administrative docket” until Ardis could be arrested. The official records of the Circuit Court of Houston County, Alabama demonstrate that Ardis was arrested pursuant to five facially valid Alias Warrants for his arrest and that he was held in the Houston County Jail until September 11, 2013, when he was released. (See Doc. 23 Ex. A- F and Ex. 2, Affid. Captain Keith Reed).

Following his arrest and while he was incarcerated, Ardis filed pro se motions dated September 9, 2013 in each of his five pending criminal cases “to withdraw my [his] appeal on [sic] cases CC99-125 through 129 and to set up a payment plan.” (See Doc. 23 Ex. G and Ex. B-F). On September 10, 2013, Judge Conaway entered the following ORDER in each of Ardis’ five pending circuit court criminal cases.

Motion to Withdraw Appeal is hereby granted and case is remanded back to District Court for disposition. Defendant ordered to pay $50.00 per month beginning October 1, ...

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