United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
DAMMUON EPPS, on behalf of their Minor children K.E., D.E., K.E., D.E., K.E., L.E., K.E., and TANYA GRIFFIN, on behalf of their Minor children K.E., D.E., K.E., D.E. K.E., L.E., K.E. Plaintiffs,
CHERRY JONES, STEPHANIE GILLISPIE, JUDY JOSEN, KELDIN JONES, Defendants.
KEITH WATKINS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pro se, Plaintiffs Dammuon Epps and Tanya Griffin
allege that their minor children are victims of human
trafficking in Russell County, Alabama, at the hands of
Defendants. At least two of the Defendants, Keldin Jones and
Cherry Jones, are current or former employees of the Russell
County Department of Human Resources (“DHR”), who
in the past have been involved in juvenile court proceedings
seeking the removal of the minor children from
Plaintiffs' home. (Doc. # 2, at 3); see also Epps v.
Russell Cty. Dep't of Human Res., No. 3:15cv25-MHT
(M.D. Ala. Jan. 15, 2015). In particular, Plaintiffs complain
in this action that Mr. Jones sought to offer DHR's
services and conduct an “unwarranted search and seizure
of their private dwelling, ” even though “[n]o
crime was reported . . . warranting a visit from
[him].” (Doc. # 2, at 3.) Plaintiffs allege that Mr.
Jones, as well as his co-Defendants, use their “public
office” to “recruit the victims as human capital
to exploit them in investment schemes promoted by the
accused.” (Doc. # 1, ¶¶ 9, 10.) These
investment schemes, it appears, are the public schools,
which, at least for some period of time, Plaintiffs'
minor children did not attend. (Doc. # 2, at 5.) Plaintiffs
contend that Defendants, through DHR, is in the business of
“recruiting human capital” to aid in “the
success of the investment scheme[s].” (Doc. # 2, at 5.)
bring their claims as alleged “victims” under the
Crime Victims' Rights Act (“CVRA”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 3771(d)(3), seeking an “emergency victim rights
protection order . . . to protect [them] from further
irreparable harm.” (Doc. # 1.) The emergency motion is
construed as a motion for a temporary restraining order.
Rule of Civil Procedure 65(b) governs requests for temporary
restraining orders. “A temporary restraining order
protects against irreparable harm and preserves the status
quo until a meaningful decision on the merits can be
made.” Schiavo ex rel. Schindler v. Schiavo,
403 F.3d 1289, 1297 (11th Cir. 2005). A temporary restraining
order may be issued without notice only if “specific
facts in an affidavit or a verified complaint clearly show
that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will
result to the movant before the adverse party can be heard in
opposition” and “the movant's attorney
certifies in writing any efforts made to give notice and the
reasons why it should not be required.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
65(b)(1)(A)-(B). Additionally, the elements that apply to a
motion for preliminary injunction also govern the issuance of
a temporary restraining order. See Parker v. State Bd. of
Pardons & Paroles, 275 F.3d 1032, 1034-35 (11th Cir.
2001). These four elements are “(1) a substantial
likelihood of success on the merits, (2) a threat of
irreparable injury, (3) that [the movant's] own injury
would outweigh the injury to the nonmovant, and (4) that the
injunction would not disserve the public interest.”
Tefel v. Reno, 180 F.3d 1286, 1295 (11th Cir. 1999).
The movant bears the burden of establishing entitlement to a
temporary restraining order. See Parker, 275 F.3d at
fall short of meeting the prerequisites for the exceptional
remedy of a temporary restraining order. First, they do not
allege any concrete facts to support a finding that a
temporary restraining order is necessary to prevent immediate
and irreparable injury before Defendants can be heard in
opposition. Second, Plaintiffs have not submitted the
certification required by Rule 65(b)(1)(B).
Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that they have a substantial
likelihood of success of obtaining the relief they seek under
the CVRA. Congress enacted the CVRA “to make crime
victims full participants in the criminal justice
system.” Kenna v. U.S. Dist. Court for C.D.
Cal., 435 F.3d 1011, 1016 (9th Cir. 2006). The CVRA
gives victims of a federal crime specified rights against the
accused, such as the “right to be reasonably protected
from the accused.” § 3771(a)(1). A victim must
pursue these rights in the United States District Court where
“a defendant is being prosecuted for the crime or, if
no prosecution is underway, in the district court in the
district in which the crime occurred.” §
3771(d)(3). Plaintiffs have not shown that a criminal
prosecution, or even a criminal investigation, for a federal
offense of “human trafficking” is pending against
any of the named Defendants in this district. See Does v.
United States, 817 F.Supp.2d 1337, 1342-43 (S.D. Fla.
2011) (recognizing that some CVRA rights attach prior to
formal charges). Although Plaintiffs allege that Defendants
“engage in Human Trafficking within Russell
County” (Doc. # 1, at ¶ 4), this accusation
consists of nothing more than a legal conclusion, and
Plaintiffs' verified motion contains no factual
allegations to substantiate an accusation that Defendants
actually are engaged in acts of human trafficking within the
meaning of any federal offense. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C.
on the foregoing reasons, it is ORDERED that Plaintiffs'
motion for a temporary restraining order (Doc. # 1) is
further ORDERED that the above-styled action is REFERRED to
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 for further
proceedings and determination or recommendation as may be
 The “accused” are the