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Copenny v. City of Hopewell

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 14, 2014

BOBBY COPENNY, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF HOPEWELL, et al., Defendants

Page 636

For Bobby Copenny, Jr., Plaintiff: Robert Patrick Geary, LEAD ATTORNEY, Richmond, VA.

For City of Hopewell, Virginia, John Keohane, Defendants: Jeremy David Capps, LEAD ATTORNEY, Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman, Richmond, VA.

For Robert Skowron, Defendant: John Anthony Conrad, The Conrad Firm, Richmond, VA.

OPINION

Page 637

MEMORANDUM OPINION

John A. Gibney, Jr., United States District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the defendants' motions to dismiss. (Dk. Nos. 15 and 17.) The City of Hopewell Police Department learned that an officer, Bobby Copenny, Jr., had taken undue liberties with a high school student in his custody. As a result, the Department terminated his employment. Several months later, a Hopewell grand jury indicted Copenny for abduction with intent to defile, arising from the same misconduct that led to his termination.

Copenny has sued the City and two high-ranking police officers for violating his civil rights. His amended complaint does not contain any separate counts, but he appears to allege four claims: violation of his right to procedural due process, violation of his right to substantive due process, violation of his due process rights by malicious prosecution, and conspiracy to violate his civil rights.

The Court dismisses the plaintiff's amended complaint. As to procedural due process, Copenny received all the process due to him. His substantive due process claim fails for two reasons: tenured public employment is not a fundamental property interest entitled to substantive due process protection, and nothing in this case " shocks the conscience." His due process/malicious prosecution has no legal or factual basis. Finally, Copenny's conspiracy claim is dismissed for failure to allege sufficient facts to support a conspiracy. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the motion to dismiss on all counts.

I. Facts[1]

Copenny worked as a police officer for the City of Hopewell Police Department,[2] which assigned him to work in Hopewell High School. Copenny arrested a high school student, Cienna Westcarr, for physically threatening a vice principal. Copenny took her to the local jail, and gave her a ride home after her booking. A few days later, defendant John Keohane, the Chief of Police, ordered him not to return to Hopewell High School for duty but instead to report to Keohane's office. There, Defendant Robert Skowron, the deputy chief of police, told Copenny that Westcarr had filed a complaint about Copenny. Westcarr said that Copenny had taken her to his apartment before taking her to jail on January 13, 2012.

Copenny then explained his side of the story to Skowron, apparently denying everything. After the interview, Skowron told Copenny not only that Westcarr, when interviewed, described Copenny's apartment in detail, but also that the police had a security video of Copenny and Westcarr in Copenny's apartment complex. Not long after this meeting, the ...


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