United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion for
Reconsideration. (Doc. # 663). In this motion, Plaintiffs
request that the court reconsider three claims on which it
granted summary judgment to Defendant Judicial Correction
Services, Inc. (“JCS”). The parties have fully
briefed the motion (Docs. # 663, 668, 671), and it is ripe
for decision. The court concludes that the Motion for
Reconsideration is due to be granted in part and denied in
Standard of Review
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically
authorize motions for reconsideration, they are common enough
in practice. However, reconsideration is “an
extraordinary remedy which must be used sparingly.”
Jackson v. Wesley, No. 6:11-cv-686-Orl-28GJK, 2011
WL 2144696, at *1 (M.D. Fla. May 31, 2011). Rule 59 allows a
party to move to alter or amend a judgment in a civil case.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Serrano v. United States, 411
Fed.Appx. 253, 255 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e)). Therefore, the court will construe Plaintiffs'
motion as one filed pursuant to Rule 59(e).
the merits of a judgment, absent a manifest error of law or
fact, is not the purpose of Rule 59.” Jacobs v.
Tempur-Pedic Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 1327, 1344 (11th
Cir. 2010). The moving party must do more than merely ask the
court for a reevaluation of an unfavorable ruling. “A
Rule 59(e) motion cannot be used to relitigate old matters,
raise argument or present evidence that could have been
raised prior to the entry of judgment.” Arthur v.
King, 500 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir. 2007) (internal
citations and quotations omitted).
ask the court to reconsider its rulings on their Fourth
Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and Equal Protection Clause
claims. The court has thoroughly reviewed their arguments and
the earlier summary judgment order, but finds no basis for
altering its prior opinion.
Reconsideration of Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment
seek reconsideration of the summary judgment granted to JCS
on their Fourth Amendment false-arrest claims because they
contend JCS employees lacked probable cause to believe the
named Plaintiffs committed a crime when they applied for
arrest warrants. (Doc. # 663 at 6-14). First, Plaintiffs
argue that the JCS employees lacked probable cause to believe
that they willfully had failed to pay fines and fees because
JCS knew that only defendants unable to pay fines levied by
the City of Childersburg's Municipal Court
(“Municipal Court”) were placed on JCS probation,
and JCS failed to provide relevant information to the
Municipal Court. (Id. at 8-9). Second, Plaintiffs
contend that the Municipal Court lacked probable cause to
issue arrest warrants for failure to obey a court order
because the court order violated was not issued until the
date of the warrant. (Id. at 10-14). Plaintiffs'
arguments do not justify reconsidering the summary judgment
granted to Defendant JCS on their Fourth Amendment claim.
revocation petitions in the Rule 56 record reflect that JCS
employees knew of Plaintiffs' failures to appear at
scheduled probation appointments and their failures to pay
fines and probation fees at the time of filing.
(E.g., Docs. # 537-1 at 2; 537-2 at 2). When the
Municipal Court's judge sentenced defendants to
JCS-supervised probation, he ordered defendants to report to
JCS as instructed, pay JCS's supervision fees, and pay
fines and costs imposed by the Municipal Court.
(E.g., Doc. # 471-12 at 2). As such, JCS employees
could have justified their requests to revoke probation on
either basis. Plaintiffs argue that the failure-to-report
charges are red herrings because JCS did not consistently
require probationers to report to a physical office if they
made the required payments in a timely manner. (Doc. # 663 at
7 n. 7). That argument does not demonstrate, though, that JCS
employees lacked a basis to believe that Plaintiffs failed to
report for probation appointments, in violation of their
probation orders, when those employees submitted revocation
petitions to the Municipal Court including such charges.
Cf. Carter v. Gore, 557 Fed.Appx. 904, 908-09 (11th
Cir. 2014). Because the Rule 56 record reveals a reasonable
basis for JCS employees to believe Plaintiffs violated their
probation orders by failing to appear at scheduled probation
appointments, the court concludes again that Plaintiffs'
Fourth Amendment claims against JCS, based on the revocation
petitions, fail to present a triable claim.
contention that Defendant JCS violated their Fourth Amendment
rights when the FTOCO warrants were issued misses the mark
for the reasons explained in the court's initial
Memorandum Opinion. That is, the Rule 56 record lacks
evidence to support Plaintiffs' position that JCS
employees requested the issuance of arrest warrants on FTOCO
convictions. The timeline of revocation proceedings in the
Childersburg Municipal Court helps illustrate this.
Generally, JCS employees drafted probation revocation
petitions when probationers had failed to comply with the
terms of probation. (Doc. # 471-1 at 123-24). A JCS employee
would determine whether the Municipal Court should hold a
compliance hearing or a revocation hearing, depending on
whether the probationer had met his or her obligations.
(Id. at 129-30). The revocation petitions generated
by JCS did not ask the Municipal Court to issue arrest
warrants on FTOCO charges, although they requested the
issuance of an arrest warrant, if necessary. (E.g.,
Docs. # 537-1 at 2; 537-2 at 2). Then, JCS would select a
date for a hearing and inform the probationer of the hearing
by mail. (Doc. # 471-1 at 127). JCS did not file the
revocation petitions with the Municipal Court before the
scheduled revocation hearings, even though the revocation
orders indicated that they had been approved by the Municipal
Court prior to the revocation hearing. (Id. at 194).
revocation hearings, JCS employees informed the judge about
the probationer's payment history and the number of
appointments missed. (Id. at 123-24). One JCS
employee testified that JCS employees presented the
revocation petitions to the Municipal Court on the date of
the hearings described in them (id. at 581), but she
did not testify that JCS employees applied for or sought
arrest warrants on FTOCO charges. If a petitioner failed to
appear at a revocation hearing, the Municipal Court often
would issue a capias warrant signed by a magistrate. (Doc. #
471-26 at 2). Nothing in the Rule 56 record indicates that
JCS drafted those capias warrants for the Municipal Court. As
the court explained in its earlier Memorandum Opinion, the
Rule 56 record also does not reveal (1) how FTOCO charges
were initiated, (2) whether the Municipal Court formally
convicted defendants of FTOCO violations, (3) the sentences
defendants received for FTOCO convictions, and (4) whether
those sentences included imprisonment terms.
in light of the Rule 56 evidence described above, the court
concludes that the summary judgment record is silent as to
who initiated the FTOCO arrest warrants: JCS employees,
Municipal Court employees, or both. This silence is
significant given the fact that this case has been in
litigation for nearly six years now.
fact that the court has found triable issues on
Plaintiffs' Bearden and equal protection claims
is of no help here. The distinction comes down to this: JCS
certainly could conspire with the Municipal Court and agree
to aid that court in violating the rights of probationers.
And, the court recognizes that while the Municipal Court and
the judge of that court cannot be sued for that conspiracy,
JCS can because (unlike the judicial actors) it may not
assert judicial immunity. Nevertheless, Plaintiffs cannot
pursue a conspiracy claim where the Rule 56 record provides
no substantial evidence that shows the issuance of arrest
warrants (as opposed to seeking revocation) was within the
scope of any conspiratorial agreement ...