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Lewis v. Newton

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

October 22, 2014

NEWTON, et al., Defendants.


JAMES R. SPENCER, Senior District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (b)(6) ("Motion") (ECF No. 4). Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition on July 22, 2014 ("Opp'n Mem.") (ECF No. 6), and Defendants subsequently filed a reply on July 25, 2014 ("Reply Mem.") (ECF No. 7). The issues are fully briefed and a hearing was held on Thursday, October 16, 2014. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is hereby GRANTED.


Plaintiff, Frederick Lewis ("Lewis) alleges that the Defendants, Jeffery L. Newton ("Newton"), Walter J. Minton ("Minton"), Joan Lafland ("Lafland"), and Paula McKenzie ("McKenzie") [hereinafter, collectively "Defendants"] knowingly restrained him in Riverside Regional Jail ("RRJ") without adequate legal justification for approximately three months. Lewis alleges violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as a state law claim of false imprisonment.

Newton is, and was, the Superintendent of RRJ. He is responsible for managing the jail, as well as supervision of the other Defendants. Minton is, and was, the Assistant Superintendent of RRJ. As such, Minton is responsible for the overall operations of the Jail. Lafland is, and was, the Records Supervisor of RRJ. The Records Supervisor is responsible for the management of inmates, staff, and facility records to insure completeness and correctness of official files at all times. McKenzie is, and was, the Records Technician of RRJ. McKenzie is responsible for maintaining inmate records which include commitment and release documents and posting inmate release dates when applicable.

On July 9, 2012, Lewis was charged with felony habitual offender driving under Va. Code § 46.2-357, which became Case No. CR13-287. He was subsequently released on bond on July 12, 2012. At that time, however, Lewis had two other outstanding offenses from November 2011, including a DUI charge (Dkt. No. CR13-288) and a felony habitual offender driving charge (Dkt. No. 13-289). Based on these additional charges, on October 9, 2012, the Petersburg General District Court suspended Lewis' bond. Lewis contends that his bond for CR13-287 was suspended on this date as well. However, Defendants contend that Lewis was held without bail only on CR13-288 and CR13-289. ( See Mot. Ex. 1 ("Commitment Order"); Mot. Exs. 5, 6 ("Order for Continued Custody")). An order for continued custody on CR13-287 was not issued until May 20, 2013. (Mot. Ex. 8.)[1] This Order indicated no change in existing amount of bond and no change in existing bail conditions. ( Id. )

On May 29, 2013, a continued custody order was issued for CR13-288 and CR13-289. (Mot. Ex. 10.) An order for continued custody on all three charges was subsequently issued on August 14, 2013. (Mot. Ex. 11.) Again, this order noted no change in existing amount of bond and no change in existing bond conditions. ( Id. )

On August 27, 2013, Lewis was tried and convicted before a jury in Case No. 13-287 and was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of twelve months incarceration. A disposition notice was issued to RRJ. (Mot. Ex. 12.) Based on this notice, Defendant McKenzie calculated Lewis' projected release date of August 27, 2014. On September 12, 2013, Lewis was found not guilty on CR13-289, (Mot. Ex. 4), and an order for continued custody on CR13-288 was issued. Finally, on October 15, 2013, CR13-288 was nolle prosequi. (Mot. Ex. 3.)

Lewis alleges that when he was sentenced for CR13-287 on August 27, 2013, Defendants failed to credit him with the time he served in jail between when his bond was allegedly suspended on October 9, 2012 and the date of his sentence. As a result of Lewis' allegations, his public defender, Shaun Huband ("Huband"), filed a motion with the Petersburg Circuit Court and also attempted to contact the Defendants to request that they check and/or recalculate Lewis' sentence. (Compl. Ex. H.) In support of his argument, Huband attached a General District Court warrant for CR13-287. ( Id. ) The warrant contained handwritten notations which Huband asserted suspended Lewis' bond on CR13-287 on October 9, 2012 until November 9, 2012. In his motion to the Court, Huband argued that "there is no evidence on the warrant or in any other order from the General District Court that the court reinstated the defendant's bond on the case which eventually became case CR13-287 on or after November 9, 2012." ( Id. )

On October 29, 2013, Huband wrote a letter to Defendant McKenzie, attaching a memo from Tucker Kile, the Court Administrator for the Petersburg Circuit Court, indicating that the memo confirms Lewis' contention that he has been held on CR13-287 and in custody since October 9, 2012. (Compl. Ex. I.) On that same day, RRJ accessed the Virginia state court website, which reflected that Lewis had made bond on July 12, 2012 on CR13-287 and nothing about any bond revocation. (Mot. Ex. 14.) Additionally, RRJ spoke with the Petersburg Circuit Court Clerk regarding the notations on the warrant that the Jail had received for the first time as an attachment to Huband's motion. (Compl. Ex. X.) After speaking with the Clerk, RRJ determined that the handwritten notations on the warrant stated the following under the Virginia Code violation section: "8-20-12 Ct. orders dft to be evaluated for competency to stand trial in inpatient basis." In the right column on the warrant front, there is a reference to "eval at CSH." The handwritten notation on the warrant back, at the top, indicates that on 8/20/12, "Bond: Revoked until 9-24-12 @ 1030 or such later date as necessary to complete eval., " on "9-24-12 Bond reinstated [initials] 9/24/12, " and on "10-9-12 Bond Suspended until 11-9-12 @ 830 [initials]." Consequently, as reflected on his Inmate Activity Report, Lewis' credits were recalculated to give him an additional 66 days of credits toward his 12 months sentence on CR13-287. (Compl. Exs. X, E.) As also reflected on that Report, RRJ received from the Sheriff of Petersburg a Certified Credit for Time Spend in Jail there from July 9, 2012 until July 14, 2012, when Lewis was released from there on bond on CR13-287. (Compl. Ex. X.) Lewis was credited with an additional five days for the period that he was at the Petersburg Jail before bonding out, for a total of additional credits of 71 days. (Compl. Ex. E.)

On November 12, 2013, a hearing was held in Petersburg Circuit Court before the Honorable Pamela S. Baskervill to review Huband's original motion. (Compl. Ex. J.) The Court issued a disposition notice that gave Lewis credit as of May, 20, 2013 on CR13-287. (Mot. Ex. 16.) However, the Court also noted that it did not have legal authority or jurisdiction to "interpret" a General District Court's order. Thus, the Circuit Court was without authority to rule on Lewis' motion. With this disposition notice, RRJ then recalculated Lewis' Projected Release Date again, giving him credit from May 20, 2013 on CR13-287, plus the 71 days of additional credits described above, for a new Projected Release Date of March 10, 2014. (Compl. Exs. X, Z.)

Based on the Circuit Court's lack of jurisdiction, Lewis subsequently filed a motion in the Petersburg General District Court requesting that the Court make a factual finding that he had been held in custody since October 9, 2012. The Court ultimately granted Lewis' motion on January 6, 2014. (Compl. Ex. W.) The Court order was then transferred to RRJ on January 7, 2014. ( See Compl. Ex. C.) Lewis was released from custody the following day. (Compl. Ex. Y.)

By the time he was released on January 8, 2014, Lewis had allegedly served approximately 90 days in jail when he should have been free. Lewis filed a complaint on June 12, 2014, which contains three counts against the Defendants. First, Count 1 alleges a violation of due process under the 14th Amendment.[2] Lewis argues that the Defendants, while acting under color of state law, deprived him of his liberty by imprisoning him beyond the time to which he was sentenced without legal authorization and without providing notice or an opportunity to be heard.

Second, Count 2 is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants acted in a manner that was deliberately indifferent to Lewis' right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eight Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. Lewis argues that the Defendants knew they did not correctly calculate his sentence and failed to release him when he finished serving the time to which he was sentenced.

Third, Count 3 is a state law claim alleging false imprisonment. Lewis argues that the Defendants knowingly restrained him in RRJ without adequate legal justification.

Lewis demands judgment against all Defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount of $900, 000 for compensatory damages, together with all costs and attorneys' fees incurred. Additionally, Lewis demands the award of punitive damages against the Defendants, ...

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