from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Georgia D.C. Docket No. 6:15-cv-00094-JRH-GRS
JORDAN, ROSENBAUM, and DUBINA, Circuit Judges.
ROSENBAUM, Circuit Judge
has been said about the art of diagnosis. For example,
Mahatma Gandhi opined, "A correct diagnosis is
three-fourths the remedy." Prashant Gupta, Wisdom of
Gandhi 53 (2008).
all, a misdiagnosis can prevent a solution from ever being
found. Take, for instance, the case of President James A.
Garfield. After an assassin wounded President Garfield, the
President's physician became convinced that the bullet
was lodged near the liver, and he performed several
unsuccessful operations to remove it. CBS News, How
Doctors Killed President Garfield, July 5, 2012,
(last visited Oct. 9, 2018). But, in fact, the bullet was on
the other side of President Garfield's body. Id.
And the unsuccessful operations-not the bullet-caused
infection and ultimately felled President Garfield.
surprisingly, diagnosing the problem correctly is also
crucial to resolving 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims of
constitutional-rights violations: the first step in any
§ 1983 analysis requires identification of the precise
right that is alleged to have been violated. Different rights
prescribe different legal analyses, so accurately diagnosing
the right at issue is critical to properly analyzing a §
1983 plaintiff's claims. And correctly diagnosing the
precise right involved, in turn, demands careful
consideration of the alleged facts.
Plaintiff-Appellee Judith Alcocer was arrested and detained
for the misdemeanor offense of driving with a suspended
license. After Alcocer satisfied the bond requirements, the
Bulloch County jail continued to detain her because jail
officers became suspicious that she might be present
illegally in the United States. She wasn't. But that was
not resolved to the jail's satisfaction until after
Alcocer had already spent the night there.
sued Defendants-Appellants Ashley Mills and John Staten,
employees of the Bulloch County jail, for
violating her constitutional rights. Defendants moved for
summary judgment, invoking qualified immunity, and the
district court denied the motion.
appeal, we must consider whether the district court correctly
identified the Fourth Amendment right to be free from
unreasonable seizures as the right allegedly violated, or
whether instead, as Defendants assert, the facts here concern
the alleged violation of Alcocer's Fourteenth Amendment
right to be free from continued detention after law
enforcement should have known that she was entitled to
release. The right involved makes a significant difference.
If the facts implicate Alcocer's Fourth Amendment right,
to receive qualified immunity, Defendants must have had
probable cause, or at least arguable probable cause, to
believe Alcocer was illegally in the United States. If, on
the other hand, the Fourteenth Amendment governs the fact
pattern here, Alcocer must show that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to her right to be released. We
conclude the district court did not err in determining that
the Fourth Amendment governs the analysis here.
while the district court accurately identified the precise
right involved, it did not conduct an individualized analysis
of each Defendant's actions and omissions and whether
they were causally related to the alleged violation of
Alcocer's Fourth Amendment rights. So we must reverse the
denial of summary judgment. We remand to the district court
to, in the first instance, conduct an individualized analysis
of each Defendant's actions and omissions to determine
whether either or both Defendants can be held liable for the
deprivation Alcocer experienced.
around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 30, 2014, Bulloch
County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Alcocer for the
misdemeanor offense of driving with a suspended license.
After arresting Alcocer, deputies took her to the Bulloch
County jail, where they transferred her to the custody of the
jail, at roughly 3:30 p.m., Mills, then a jailer with the
Bulloch County Sheriff's Office, booked Alcocer. As part
of the process, Mills asked Alcocer for, among other
information, her address and her Social Security number, to
input into the Sheriff's Office's computer system.
She also noted in the system Alcocer's Georgia
driver's license number.
Mills finished reporting Alcocer's demographic
information, Alcocer was fingerprinted. According to Alcocer,
the same woman who booked her- Mills-also took her
point in this process, Alcocer's information was run
through computerized databases, including those of the
National Crime Information Center ("NCIC"), the
Georgia Crime Information Center ("GCIC"), and the
Automated Fingerprint Identification System
("AFIS"). Mills testified that it was the
fingerprinting jailer's responsibility to perform this
the Sheriff's Office submitted Alcocer's information
to the databases, it received a fax from the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement ("ICE") office located in
Savannah. The fax stated with respect to Alcocer, "[ICE]
RECORDS INDICATE THAT THIS SUBJECT IS NOT LEGALLY IN THE
UNITED STATES AND APPEARS TO BE SUBJECT TO REMOVAL
PROCEEDINGS." But significantly, the document cautioned,
"THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT DETAINER! THE INFORMATION IS
FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT USE AND IS BEING PROVIDED FOR
INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS RESPONSE IS NOT SUPPORTED
based on this fax, after Alcocer was processed into the jail,
and before Mills finished her shift at 7:00 p.m. that night,
Mills's supervisor, Sergeant Kirkland, directed Mills to
add a note to Alcocer's information contained in the
Sheriff's Office's computer system: "CONTACT ICE
IN ATLANTA GA FOR PICK UP BEFORE RELEASING."
these events were occurring, Alcocer's sister, Susana
Hinojosa, was hard at work trying to get Alcocer released
from the jail. Alcocer had called to advise Hinojosa that she
had been arrested. So Hinojosa went to the jail to see about
getting Alcocer out.
point in the afternoon of January 30, the Sheriff's
Office staff informed Hinojosa that Alcocer had to satisfy a
$2, 000 bail requirement to obtain release. So Hinojosa went
across the street to a bail bondsman and arranged for bail
for Alcocer. Then Hinojosa returned to the jail to wait for
between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., the Sheriff's Office staff
informed Hinojosa that it would not release Alcocer, despite
Hinojosa's payment of the bail, because ICE had a hold on
Alcocer. When Hinojosa asked the reason for the ICE hold, the
Sheriff's Office staff said that Alcocer was
"illegal or they're trying to deport her or
something showed up on her record."
responded that Alcocer was "not illegal[;] she's a
U.S. citizen, . . . born in South Carolina." And
Hinojosa asked what she needed to bring to the jail to prove
that fact. The Sheriff's Office staff ignored her. So she
left to ...