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Heiken v. Meeks

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

February 12, 2018

SHERIFF DENNIS MEEKS, et al., Defendants.




         This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a complaint and amendment thereto filed by Virgil Fredrick Heiken, an indigent inmate, attacking actions related to his arrest for various controlled substance offenses on March 9, 2016 at the residence of his father-in-law. The court takes judicial notice of the case action summary for Heiken's criminal cases as maintained on the Alabama Trial Court System, hosted at See Keith v. DeKalb Cnty., 749 F.3d 1034, 1041 n.18 (11th Cir. 2014) (holding that a federal court may “take judicial notice of [the State's] Online Judicial System”). This document reflects that upon his March 9, 2016 arrest Heiken was charged with unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance in violation of Alabama Code § 13A-12-218, trafficking in methamphetamine in violation of Alabama Code § 13A-12-231(11), possession with intent to sell or deliver drug paraphernalia in violation of Alabama Code § 13A-12-260(d)(1), and chemical endangerment of a child in violation of Alabama Code § 26-15-3.2(a)(1). On December 6, 2017, Heiken petitioned the trial court to plead guilty pursuant to an information. Doc. 54-1 at 2. On December 11, 2017, Heiken entered a guilty plea to unlawfully manufacturing methamphetamine, as charged in Count 1 of the information lodged against him by the District Attorney of Covington County, Alabama. Specifically, Heiken admitted that:

[W]hile at or near Covington County, Alabama, on or about . . . March 9, 2016, [he] did knowingly and unlawfully manufacture a controlled substance, to-wit: methamphetamine and/or did knowingly and unlawfully possess precursor substance(s), to-wit: pseudoephedrine, with the intent to unlawfully manufacture a controlled substance, and, in conjunction with said act, did illegally possess, transport, or dispose of hazardous or dangerous materials, to-wit: methamphetamine producing [materials at or near] 305 Hattaway Road and/or a clandestine laboratory operation actually produced any amount of a specified controlled substance, to-wit: methamphetamine and/or a clandestine laboratory operation was for the production of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or Schedule II, to-wit: methamphetamine, in violation of Title 13A-12-218 of the Code of Alabama, 1975.

         Doc. 54-1 at 6. The State nolle prossed the remaining charges pending against Heiken. Doc. 54-1 at 11. Heiken did not file a timely appeal of his conviction for the unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine and this conviction therefore became final 42 days after the entry of his guilty plea, on January 22, 2018. See Ala. R. App. P. 4(b)(1).

         In the instant complaint, Heiken alleges that the March 9, 2016 search of his father-in-law's residence on Hattaway Drive in Opp, Alabama violated his constitutional rights and resulted in the unlawful seizure of evidence. Doc. 1 at 3. Specifically, Heiken asserts that the defendants did not present a warrant or obtain permission for the search of the home, cited no reason for entry into the home, and lacked authorization to enter the residence. Docs. 1 at 3 & 41 at 2. Heiken further complains that the bond set by the state court is unconstitutional because it “exceeds $350, 000.00 which is equivalent to ‘no bond.'” Doc. 1 at 3. Heiken also challenges the lack of an indictment in his cases. Doc. 1 at 3. Additionally, in an amendment to the complaint, Heiken maintains that the search violated the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure. Doc. 41 at 1. Heiken names as defendants Dennis Meeks, the Sheriff of Covington County, Alabama; Greg Jackson, an officer with the Covington Count Sheriff's Department; and Josh Hudson, a member of the 22nd Judicial Task Force. Heiken seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and monetary damages from the defendants in their individual capacities.

         The defendants filed motions to dismiss and briefs in support of their motions in which they argue that Heiken's claims entitle him to no relief. Docs. 32, 33, 38 & 39. Defendant Hudson also filed a supplement to his motion to dismiss. Doc. 45. On September 18, 2017, the court issued an order which provided Heiken an opportunity to respond to these motions. Doc. 40. The order advised Heiken that his failure to respond to the motions could result in the dismissal of this case. Doc. 40. Heiken did not file a direct response to this order, but the record indicates that the court received a filing on September 18, 2017, postmarked September 16, 2017, in which Heiken did address defendant Hudson's motion to dismiss, maintaining “that the motion to dismiss is without merrritt [sic] and or frivolous [in] nature.” Doc. 41 at 1. In support of this position, Heiken made the following assertions:

Officer Josh Hudson was not authorized to question plaintiff as plaintiff was merely helping his wife clean her fathers home <ie> co-defendant's father had been arrested and charged with possession of a control[led] substance. Prior to this date of events plaintiff and co-defendant were sorting through her father's bedroom in preparation to assure it was chemical free. . . .
There has been no information as to why Officer Josh Hudson stopped by this residence with no warrant to present. What was Hudsons reason, the record does not reflect thus far.
These facts presented is good cause why the honorable court should deny the motion to dismiss, filed by Defendant [Hudson] ¶ 9-6-17. All premises considered this court holds jurisdiction to hear these and other facts. Subject matter jurisdiction only requires factual bases for the court. Plaintiff feels he has met that qualification.
Officer Hudson ask for immunity based on nothing and pursuant to 12(b)(1)-(b)(6) rules of civil procedures. These allegations [set forth in the complaint and amendment] are factual and fundamental to the guilt or innocence of the plaintiff.
. . . [U]nlawful acts by our law enforcement shall not go unpunished.

Doc. 41 at 2.

         Upon exhaustive review of the complaint, the amendment to the complaint, the arguments set forth in the defendants' motions to dismiss, as supported by their memorandum briefs, the state-court record of Heiken's controlled substance conviction, and applicable ...

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