United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
RONALD E. HAWKINS, SR. Plaintiff,
CITY OF RICHMOND, et al., Defendants.
E. Payne Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS PURSUANT TO RULE 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 15), filed by
the City of Richmond, the DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
PURSUANT TO RULE 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 33), filed by the City
of Richmond Police Department, Earl Fernandez, R.L. Jamison,
and Michael Mocello, the AMENDED MOTION TO DISMISS (Docket
No. 37), filed by Defendants City of Richmond Magistrate
Office, Martesha Bishop, and Gary Woolbridge, and on the
MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT (Docket No. 42), filed by
the Plaintiff. For the reasons stated below, the
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO RULE 12(b)(6)
(Docket No. 15), the DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
PURSUANT TO RULE 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 33), and the AMENDED
MOTION TO DISMISS (Docket No. 37), filed by Defendants City
of Richmond Magistrate Office, Martesha Bishop, and Gary
Woolbridge, will be granted, and the MOTION FOR LEAVE TO
AMEND COMPLAINT (Docket No. 42), filed by the Plaintiff, will
Ronald E. Hawkins, Sr. ("Hawkins") alleges that on
August 29, 2014, he was on the porch at his mother's
house when two officers, one unnamed and one named R.L.
Jamison ("Jamison"), approached and informed
Hawkins that he would "have to go with them"
because there was "a warrant downtown for the
Plaintiff's arrest." (Compl. ¶¶ 13-20,
Docket No. 3). The officers did not produce a warrant or
inform Hawkins of the charges against him. (Compl.
¶¶ 16-20). With the assistance of a third officer,
Earl Fernandez ("Fernandez"), Jamison and
Jamison's unnamed partner transported Hawkins to an
interrogation room in a police department. (Compl.
Michael Mocello ("Mocello") is alleged to have
entered the interrogation room, and also declined to produce
a warrant or state the charges against Hawkins. (Compl.
¶¶ 23-29). Mocello allegedly questioned Hawkins
about selling an unnamed girl drugs and showing that girl a
gun, and insinuated that Hawkins would be "cleared"
if it could be determined that this gun had not been fired.
(Compl. ¶¶ 30-37). Hawkins, "after being
misled [about] the nature of the charge, was compelled to
incriminate himself to prove that he didn't shoot anyone,
" in the process "giving [away the] location of a
gun that he was aware of belonging to his brother."
(Compl. ¶ 37).
Hawkins was not shown a warrant, Mocello had, in fact, sought
and obtained a warrant for Hawkins's arrest. However,
Hawkins argues that "the facts and circumstances were
insufficient to establish probable cause to believe that
[Hawkins] had committed a criminal offense, " and that
"no officer of reasonable competence would have
concluded that probable cause existed." (Compl. ¶
81). Hawkins further alleges that Mocello obtained the
warrant by knowingly, deliberately, or recklessly omitting
information which was material to the finding of probable
cause. (Compl. ¶ 83) . Hawkins alleges that Magistrate
Judge Martesha Bishop ("Bishop") acted in concert
with Mocello to issue this warrant. (Compl. ¶82).
the firearm was retrieved, Mocello informed Hawkins that the
charge against him was possession of a firearm by a convicted
felon. (Compl. ¶ 38). That charge was nolle
prosequi'd by the City of Richmond on October 9,
2014 because a laboratory had not yet returned an unspecified
report. (Compl. ¶¶ 42-49). That day, however,
Hawkins was shown two indictments dated October 8, 2014,
charging him with (1) distribution of a controlled substance,
and (2) possession of a firearm while attempting to
distribute a controlled substance. (Compl. ¶ 50).
Hawkins alleges that the evidence supporting the indictments
was taken from the August 29, 2014 interrogation. (Compl.
¶ 51) . On November 5, 2014, Hawkins was indicted
"on the same firearm charge" that had been
nolle prosequi'd on October 9, 2014. (Compl.
¶ 52). The evidence supporting that indictment was also
allegedly taken from the August 29, 2014 interrogation.
(Compl. ¶ 52) .
the October and November indictments, Hawkins was represented
by Christopher Bradshaw ("Bradshaw"). (Compl.
¶¶ 53-57) . Hawkins and Bradshaw disagreed on
litigation strategy. (Compl. ¶¶ 57-60).
Particularly, Hawkins wanted to file a motion to suppress,
while Bradshaw, after discussions with prosecuting attorney
Davis Powell, believed such a motion would be frivolous.
(Compl. ¶¶ 60-65, 72-77). On April 3, 2015, Judge
Bradford Cavedo allowed Hawkins to change counsel, and
appointed David P. Baugh as Hawkins's attorney. (Compl.
¶¶ 61-65). Judge Cavedo recused himself from
Hawkins's case which was then transferred to Judge
Beverly Snukals. (Compl. ¶¶ 66).
suppression hearing was scheduled in Hawkins's case.
(Compl. ¶¶ 77-78). Hawkins "wanted to go
forward with the hearing, " but received "a message
through his attorney David P. Baugh from a Richmond Police
Office[r] Fernandez informing Plaintiff to accept the plea
deal" which was being offered. (Compl. ¶¶ 79).
"Hawkins felt intimidated and felt that he was not
receiving Due Process and had no other choice but to take a
[p]lea deal." (Compl. ¶¶ 80). Hawkins was
convicted of distribution of cocaine in violation of Va. Code
§ 18.2-248(c) and sentenced to ten years of
incarceration, with nine years and three months suspended for
a period of ten years, with credit for time served. (Docket
No. 35-1, Ex. 1).
filed this action pro se and in forma
pauperis against the City of Richmond ("the
City"); the City of Richmond Police Department
("the Police Department"); the City of
Richmond's Magistrate Office ("the Magistrate
Office"); Richmond police officers Mocello, Fernandez,
and Jamison in their official capacities ("the
individual officers"); and Richmond Magistrate Judge
Martesha Bishop and Chief Magistrate Judge Gary Woolbridge
("the Magistrate Judges"), also in their official
capacities. Plaintiff presents six claims: (1) Count One
alleges that Plaintiff was arrested without probable cause;
in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; (2)
Count Two alleges malicious prosecution; (3) Count Three
alleges false arrest and false imprisonment; (4) Count Four
alleges denial of Due Process, in violation of the Fifth
Amendment; (5) Count Five alleges denial of effective
counsel, in violation of the Sixth Amendment; and (6) Count
Six alleges a violation of plaintiff's right to Equal
Protection, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Hawkins
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, unspecified
equitable relief, and compensatory damages.
June 8, 2016 and June 24, 2016, all Defendants filed motions
to dismiss. (Docket Nos. 15, 33, 37). On June 30, 2016,
Hawkins filed a motion for an extension of time to respond to
these motions. (Docket No. 40). On July 1, 2016, the Court
granted Hawkins's request and ordered that Hawkins submit
his responses to the motions by July 26, 2016. (Docket No.
41) . Rather than file a reply, Hawkins filed a motion for
leave to amend his Complaint. (Docket No. 42). Defendants
have not filed responses to Hawkins's motion for leave to
civil cases, pro se or otherwise, a motion to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of a
complaint. Jordan v. Alternative Resources Corp.,
458 F.3d 332, 338 (4th Cir. 2006). When deciding a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must "draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff."
Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc.,
591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009). However, while the court
"will accept the pleader's description of what
happened" and "any conclusions that can be
reasonably drawn therefrom, " the court "need not
accept conclusory allegations encompassing the legal effects
of the pleaded facts." Charles A. Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1357 (3d
ed.1998); Chamblee v. Old Dominion Sec. Co., L.L.C.,
No. 3:13CV820, 2014 WL 1415095, *4 (E.D. Va. 2014). The court
is not required to accept as true a legal conclusion
unsupported by factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
threshold matter, the Court recognizes that Hawkins's pro
se status entitles his pleadings to a liberal construction.
See, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (citations omitted); Gordon v. Leeke, 574
F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Nevertheless, "[e]ven
pro se plaintiffs must recognize Rule 8's vision for
ya system of simplified pleadings that
give notice of the general claim asserted, allow for the
preparation of a basic defense, narrow the issues to be
litigated, and provide a means for quick dispositions of sham
claims.'" Sewraz v. Guice, 2008 WL 3926443,
at *2 (E.D. Va. Aug. 26, 2008) (quoting Prezzi v.
Berzak, 57 F.R.D. 149, 151 (S.D.N.Y. 1972)). The
requirement of liberal construction "does not mean that
the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to