United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
Scott Coogler United States District Judge.
magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on July
27, 2017, recommending that this action be dismissed without
prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). (Doc. 12).
The plaintiff was notified of his right to file objections
within fourteen (14) days of the report and recommendation
(id.), and on August 14, 2017, the court received
the plaintiff s objections. (Doc. 13).
objections, the plaintiff concedes that defendants Judge Jeb
Fannin and Clerk Clarence Haynes are due to be dismissed.
(Doc. 13 at 4). While the plaintiff does not make the same
concession as to defendants Circuit Clerk Brian York,
Assistant District Attorney David Argo, the Alabama Board of
Pardons and Paroles, the Alabama Attorney General, the
Governor of Alabama, and the Chief Justice of Alabama, he
fails to object to the magistrate judge's determination
that the amended complaint (doc. 10) failed to allege any
facts specifically associating these defendants with any
constitutional violation. (See Doc. 12 at 8-9, 20,
Objections Based on the Validity of the Arrest
plaintiffs objections focus on whether the complaint and
arrest warrant issued by Patricia Davenport on November 6,
2015, was based on probable cause and whether she had
authority to issue it. The plaintiffs first series of objections
concern whether a Circuit Clerk has the authority to
determine probable cause for arrest. (Doc. 13 at 1-2, 21-22,
24). The law is well established that state court clerk
office employees can and do regularly issue warrants. Under
Alabama law, state court circuit clerks have the authority to
"sign and issue all summons, subpoenas, writs,
executions, and other processes, under the authority of the
court." § 12-17-94(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975, as
amended. Moreover, district court clerks may be designated as
magistrates and are provided the authority to issue arrest
warrants. See Ala. Code § 12-17-251 (b) and
(c). The plaintiffs assertion that defendant Davenport lacked
the authority to issue an arrest warrant is without merit.
the plaintiff cites Shadwickv. City of Tampa, 407
U.S. 345 (1972), in support of his belief that defendant
Davenport could not issue a warrant, that case states that
"it has never been held that only a lawyer or judge
could grant a warrant, regardless of the court system ....
The Court frequently has employed the term
'magistrate' to denote those who may issue warrants
.... Historically, a magistrate has been defined broadly as
'a public civil officer, possessing such power ... as the
government appointing him may ordain." Id., at
348-349 (citations omitted). Shadwick undermines the
plaintiffs assertion that only a judge can determine probable
cause for purposes of the issuance of a
warrant. The plaintiffs objections on the basis
that defendant Davenport lacked authority to issue and arrest
warrant is OVERRULED.
plaintiff next argues that the arrest warrant issued for him
on November 6, 2015, was not based on probable cause and was
therefore invalid. (Doc. 13 at 3). However, the plaintiffs
basis for this conclusion is his mistaken belief that he is
entitled to have a judge determine whether probable cause for
his arrest exists prior to the issuance of a warrant.
(Id. at 3, 5, 7). The state court records reflect
that Patty Davenport, as Magistrate, signed a Complaint based
on the statement of Officer Michael Smith. State of
Alabama v. McAdams, DC-2017-100719.00 (Talladega County,
Ala.). Officer Smith stated under oath that he had probable
cause for believing that the plaintiff, "[d]id, in the
course of committing a theft of, to-wit: Ladies Purse (sic),
the property of Carolyn Ann McGrady, by use of force or
threaten the imminent use of force against the person of
Carolyn Ann McGrady, or another person present, with the
intent to overcome his/her physical resistance ... in
violation of § 13A-8-43 of the Alabama Criminal Code
...." Id. Such a statement is sufficient to
establish probable cause for a warrant to issue. See
e.g., Sada v. City of Altamonte Springs, 434 Fed.Appx.
845, 849 (11th Cir. 2001) (holding that various
witnesses' statements were sufficient to establish
probable cause). The constitution requires no more than this
for Fourth Amendment purposes. Under Alabama law too, this is
sufficient. See e.g., Hunt v. State, 659 So.2d 933,
947-48 (Ala.Crim.App.1994) (finding substantially similar
complaint adequate to establish probable cause).
plaintiffs general assertions that probable cause was not
established, with no specific factual support (see
e.g., doc. 13 at 7), do not require a finding otherwise.
See e.g., Dalrymple v. Reno, 334 F.3d 991, 996 (11th
Cir. 2003) (something more than mere conclusory notice
pleading is required in civil rights complaints, especially
where the defense of qualified immunity is involved). The
plaintiffs objections in this regard are
OVERRULED. To the extent the plaintiff is
actually challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against
him, such claims are within the realm of habeas proceedings
and outside the province of § 1983 action. See
McDowell Bey v. Vega, 588 Fed.Appx. 923, 926 (11th Cir.
2014) (citing Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 78
extent that the plaintiff is arguing that a "form
complaint-unaccompanied by a separate affidavit" (doc.
13 at 8) is invalid, no legal support for such a claim
exists. However, even if the warrant was invalid, "it
does not follow that the arrest was invalid." Rennow
v. State, 255 So.2d 602, 603 (Ala.Crim.App.1971). An
arrest not in compliance with Alabama statutes is not a per
se violation of the federal Constitution. See Knight v.
Jacobson, 300 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2002)
("there is no federal right not to be arrested in
violation of state law") (citations omitted); Wilcox
v. Ford, 813 F.2d 1140, 1145 n.7 (11th Cir. 1987) (a
federal court is not concerned with violations of state law
unless the violation raises federal constitutional problems).
content of the complaint and warrant for the plaintiffs
arrest were within the bounds of the Fourth
Amendment. The facts set forth in the complaint were
sworn to by defendant Smith, which provided a reasonable
basis for the warrant to issue. See Harris v. Falls, 920
F.Supp.2d 1247, 1260 (N.D. Ala. 2013). The plaintiffs general
assertions that probable cause was not established, with no
specific factual support, do not require a finding otherwise.
The plaintiffs objections based on the lack of a separate
affidavit are OVERRULED.
Objections Concerning Defendants Smith, Kimbrough, and
through the plaintiffs arguments concerning the actions of
Davenport is the plaintiffs allegation that defendant Mike
Smith, an Investigator with the Sylacauga Police Department,
should have known better than to rely on the arrest warrant
issued by "a Circuit Court Clerk." (Doc. 13 at 16).
However, as previously stated, Alabama law clearly allows for
duly appointed magistrates to issue arrest warrants. Given
that the warrant was properly issued, defendant Smith was
entitled to rely on it. The plaintiffs objections on this
basis are OVERRULED.
the plaintiffs objections are his arguments mixing his arrest
on October 2, 2015, with the arrest warrant issued on
November 6, 2015, for robbery. (See e.g., Doc. 13 at
5-6). Defendant Officers Kimbrough and Moore arrested the
plaintiff on October 2, 2015, for Attempting to Elude a
Police Officer, causing the probation violation arrest
warrant to issue. Nothing in the state court records
suggests either of these Sylacauga police officers had any
involvement with the execution of the warrant on November 6,
2015. Moreover, at the time of the November 6, 2015, warrant,
the plaintiff was already in the Talladega County Jail,
awaiting a hearing on probation revocation. Although the
plaintiff also asserts the October 2, 2015, arrest was in
violation of his Fourth Amendment rights (doc. 13 at 4), he
states no factual basis in his complaint or objections for
this assertion. Thus, all of the plaintiffs allegations
against Officers Kimbrough and Moore concerning reliance on
the November 6, 2015, arrest warrant are misplaced and his
objections on this basis are OVERRULED.
Objections Based on Immunity of Probation Officers
plaintiff next argues that defendant Probation Officer Tim
Hall, and defendant Stacy Vogel as his supervisor, were
responsible for an "objectively unreasonable arrest of
the plaintiff, without a reasonable judicial determination of
probable cause." (Doc. 13 at 4, 23). According to the
plaintiff, these defendants acted in bad faith, exceeded
their authority, and violated his Fourth Amendment rights by
failing to establish probable cause because the arrest
warrant issued by defendant Davenport was
invalid. (Id., at 5- 6). Even if this
argument had some factual basis, probation officers are
entitled to complete immunity for actions they take in their
role as probation officers. Hughes v. Chesser, 731
F.2d 1489, 1490 (11th Cir. 1984). See also Holmes v.
Crobsy, 418 F.3d 1256, 1258 (11th Cir. 2005) (probation
officers are entitled to quasi-judicial immunity). This
immunity extends to the function of issuing violator arrest
warrants. Dorman v. Simpson, 893 F.Supp. 1073, 1081
(N.D.Ga. 1995). The plaintiffs objections to the
magistrate's report and recommendation concerning Tim
Hall and Stacy Vogel are therefore
42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not allow a plaintiff to hold
supervisory officials liable for the actions of their
subordinates under either a theory of respondeat superior or
vicarious liability. Belcher v. City of Foley, 30
F.3d 1390, 1396 (11th Cir. 1994). See also Cottone v.
Jenne,326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003) (a
supervisory official is liable only if he "personally
participate[d] in the alleged unconstitutional conduct or
[if] there is a causal connection between [his] actions ...
and the alleged constitutional deprivation."). Because