United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
ROXANNE ADAMS, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JAMYCHEAL M. MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
NAPHCARE, INC., et al., Defendants.
REBECCA BEACH SMITH CHIEF JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the Plaintiff's
"Time-Sensitive Motion to Respond to, and Prevent,
Retaliation by Jail Personnel Against Inmate Witnesses"
("Motion"), and accompanying Memorandum in Support,
filed on June 21, 2016. ECF Nos. 17, 18. On June 24, 2016,
Defendant David L. Simons ("Simons") filed a
Response, ECF No. 25, and on the same day, the Plaintiff
filed her Reply. ECF No. 26. The Plaintiff filed a Notice of
Additional Information on June 27, 2016, ECF No. 27, as well
as a Second Notice of Additional Information on June 30,
2016. ECF No. 34.
5, 2016, this court referred the above Motion to United
States Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard, pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 72(b), to conduct hearings, including
evidentiary hearings, if necessary, and to submit to the
undersigned district judge proposed findings of fact, if
applicable, and recommendations for the disposition of the
Motion. ECF No. 39.
conducted hearings on the Motion on July 13, 2016, and July
22, 2016, see ECF Nos. 50, 58, the Magistrate Judge
filed the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on July
25, 2016. ECF No. 57. The Magistrate Judge recommended
denying the Plaintiff's Motion. R&R at 32. By copy of the
R&R, the parties were advised of their right to file written
objections to the findings and recommendations made by the
Magistrate Judge. See id. at 32-33. On August 8,
2016, the Plaintiff filed her Objections to the R&R, ECF No.
94, and on August 22, 2016, Defendant Simons filed his Reply.
ECF No. 118.
Plaintiff's Motion seeks prospective injunctive relief in
the form of this court's intervention with a
state-operated jail. See Mot. at 8. "Such
intrusion should not occur 'absent the most extraordinary
circumstances.'" R&R at 25 (citing Taylor v.
Freeman, 34 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 1995)). The
Magistrate Judge determined, and this court agrees, that a
preliminary injunction standard applies here. Id. at
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never
awarded as of right." Winter v. Nat. Res. Def.
Council, 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (citing Munaf v.
Geren, 553 U.S. 674, 689-90 (2008)). in considering a
preliminary injunction, "courts 'must balance the
competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on
each party of the granting or withholding of the requested
relief.'" Id. (quoting Amoco Prod. Co.
v. Village of Gambell, 480 U.S. 531, 542 (1987)).
Furthermore, courts "should pay particular regard for
the public consequences in employing the extraordinary remedy
of injunction." Id., (quoting Weinberger v.
Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305, 312 (1982)). Overall,
"[a] plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must
establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he
is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his
favor, and that an injunction is in the public
interest." Id. at 20; see also Centro
Tepeyac v. Montgomery Cty., 722 F.3d 184, 188 (4th Cir.
Review of Magistrate Judge's R&R
to Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the
court, having reviewed the record in its entirety, shall make
a de novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which
the Plaintiff has specifically objected. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) .
The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the recommendation of the magistrate judge, or recommit the
matter to him with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) (1)
Plaintiff lists fifteen (15) different objections to the R&R.
Before ruling on the R&R, the court will examine each in
Plaintiff's first objection is that the Magistrate Judge
was incorrect in finding that inmate witness complaints were
unrelated to the present litigation. Obj . at 2-5. The
Magistrate Judge found, and the court agrees, that the inmate
witnesses received discipline unrelated to the present
litigation. See R&R at 27. The Plaintiff asserts
that the Magistrate Judge "disregarded the inmate
witnesses' contentions of threats and abuse." Obj.
at 3. This assertion is not correct. Rather, the Magistrate
Judge concluded that the Plaintiff's evidence was not
sufficient to warrant the extraordinary remedy of injunctive
intervention by this court at this juncture.
Plaintiff's second objection states that Defendant
Simons's cross-examination used impermissible character
evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(a), and that this
impermissibly admitted character evidence was reflected in
the R&R, which "repeatedly underscored
'disciplinary' and 'prison policy violations'
allegedly committed by the inmate witnesses." Obj. at
Rule of Evidence 404(a)(1) states that "[e]vidence of a
person's character or character trait is not admissible
to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in
accordance with the character or trait." Fed.R.Evid.
404(a)(1). In the hearings, the Plaintiff raised objections
under this Rule, which the Magistrate Judge overruled. See
Tr. Of July 13, 2016, at 69-71, 194.
reviewing a magistrate judge's evidentiary ruling, the
district court applies an abuse of discretion standard.
VirginEnters. Ltd. v. Virgin Cuts, Inc.,
149 F.Supp.2d 220, 226 (E.D. Va. 2000) (citing Benedi v.
McNeil-P.P.C., Inc., 66 F.3d 1378, 1383 (4th Cir.
1995)). Under this standard, an evidentiary ruling will be