United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
MICHAEL F. URBANSKI CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Anthony Dobson, currently incarcerated at Red Onion State
Prison, complains that he is suffering an ongoing violation
of his constitutional rights. Proceeding pro se,
Dobson filed this lawsuit seeking relief via 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Defendants Scott Lang, Patricia Munley, and Colin D.
Stolle (the Commonwealth defendants), filed a motion to
dismiss on November 1, 2018. ECF No. 24. Defendants Bernard
T. Booker, Tod Watson, and Philip White (the BCC defendants),
filed a motion to dismiss on November 6, 2018. ECF No. 32.
Defendant Derek M. Reed filed a motion to dismiss on November
29, 2018. ECF No. 41. Also pending is Dobson's motion to
amend pleadings. ECF No. 50. The parties have fully briefed
reasons set forth below, Dobson's motion to amend is
GRANTED; the motions to dismiss are
GRANTED; and Dobson's federal causes of
action are DISMISSED. The court to declines
to exercise jurisdiction over Dobson's state law causes
following facts, which are taken from Dobson's complaint,
the motions to dismiss, his response to the motions to
dismiss, and the attached exhibits, are accepted as true for
purposes of the defendants' motions. Dobson is
incarcerated in the Virginia Department of Corrections where
he has served twenty-one years of a sixty-four year sentence
for murder. The events about which he complains began in May
2017 when Dobson was housed at the Buckingham Correctional
Center (BCC) in Dillwyn, Virginia.
has two stepsons, Marquel Leary and Dominique Leary. In July
2016, Marquel shot and killed a man in Virginia Beach..
Dobson's wife, Marie, who is Marquel and Dominique's
mother, has a history of mental illness. When it appeared
that Marquel would be tried for murder, her mental health
declined and Marie became convinced that the only way to save
Marquel from going to prison was to hire someone to murder
five people who were set to testify against him. Marie told
Dobson about her plan and Dobson believed she was serious
about hiring someone to commit murder on her behalf. In an
effort to stop her, Dobson told Marie that he had a friend,
Winston, who could find someone to carry out the murders. It
was Dobson's hope that if he stepped in, Marie would come
to her senses and change her mind about the plan.
Marie learned that Marquel was facing a 30-year sentence, she
pushed Dobson to come up with a plan. Dobson became alarmed
and sought guidance from three mentors who worked at the
prison. With the help of a prison minister, Dobson decided to
contact an attorney in the Virginia Beach Commonwealth's
minister arranged a three-way call between himself, Dobson,
and an attorney with the Commonwealth's Attorney's
office. Dobson did not identify himself on the call, but told
the attorney that someone was planning to kill the witnesses
who were going to testify against Marquel. The next day,
Dobson was called into the investigators' office at BCC
and when asked, he admitted that he had made the call. He was
reprimanded for making an unauthorized three-way call but the
investigators then asked him if he would be willing to talk
further with someone from the Commonwealth's
Attorney's office. Dobson was upset that his identity was
known and declined to talk further.
days later, Marie's mental health appeared to be
worsening. Dobson became afraid that she was going to hire
someone off the street to commit the murders and he felt like
he had no choice but to call the Commonwealth's Attorney.
On May 8, 2017, Dobson talked to his own attorney, who he had
hired to seek a pardon on his behalf. She told him that what
he was contemplating was dangerous and that if he went
forward with his plan she would no longer be able to
9, 2017 Dobson arranged to talk via telephone to defendant
Patricia Munley, an investigator with the Commonwealth.
Munley asked Dobson if he would meet with detectives, and
Dobson agreed to do so. A few days later, Dobson met with
three detectives, including defendant Sgt. Detective Derek M.
Reed, who worked for the Virginia Beach Police Department.
Dobson told them that Marie believed that a man named Winston
who lived in Maryland was setting up a plan for someone to
commit the murders. The detectives wanted proof of the
allegations, and Dobson agreed to correspond with Marie via
email and to give copies of the emails to the detectives. The
detectives also told Dobson that they wanted Reed to pretend
to be the hitman and they discussed Reed playing the role
"as if Winston didn't know he was really a cop[J
which would have kept [Dobson's] name out of it."
ECF No. 1 at 15.
had a number of concerns. He did not want to be identified as
having gone to the police with information and did not want
to be connected to a case against Marie or Marquel. Both
Marquel and his brother were associated with the
"Bloods" gang and Dobson feared reprisal, both for
himself, his father, his former wife, and his children.
Dobson wanted assurance that he and his family would be kept
safe. He also wanted the Commonwealth to assist him with his
request for a pardon, because the attorney he hired would no
longer represent him.
Munley was vague about how the Commonwealth would protect
Dobson and his family, but urged him to trust them because
they had experience in similar situations. Dobson did not see
how the Commonwealth could use the "Winston plan"
without Marie knowing that Dobson was involved, and he asked
the Commonwealth to wait until he and his family could be
placed in a witness protection plan. Munley told Dobson that
they could not do that, but reassured him that his name would
be kept out of the matter. Dobson was doubtful and asked
Munley and Reed not to proceed until he could consult with
his ex-wife. Munley told him they would be able to proceed
with the investigation another way. Conversations between
Dobson, Munley, arid Reed, and Dobson and his family,
continued for several days.
25, 2017, defendant Reed sent Dobson the following email:
Yo I understand how you feel and we doing all we can. We not
new to dealing with situations like this. We contacted the
people we need to get your stuff rolling, and they working on
that. I just need you to meet me halfway. So send me that
number so we can get this thing done, and Commonwealth can do
what they need to ASAP.
Talk to you later.
ECF No. 48 at 6.
26, 2017, Reed emailed Dobson again, to discuss helping pay
for calls to Marie and to Reed. He also asked for die phone
number to Marie's "burner" cell phone she was
using to set up the murder-for-hire.
And Mike, I've tried to get things done with this and you
not answering my question. I will try to send after I send
this email. Yo I need that number because if not they are
trying to do this some other way. I'll get that offender
connect done now.
ECF No. 48 at 8. Dobson understood the language "if not,
they are trying to do this some other way" as a threat
that they were going to make him turn over the number.
unclear whether Dobson provided the number to Reed. But the
next day, while Dobson believed that he was still in
negotiations with the Commonwealth, he talked to Marie, who
told him mat "Winston" had called and was in
Virginia Beach getting a motel room.
was fearful and told Marie to stay home. He called Munley and
told her that he did not want them to proceed until some
arrangement was made to protect his family. A short time
later, prison authorities summoned Dobson and defendant White
told him that he was being placed in the
"hole" for a "time out." Dobson was in
the hole for four hours, and when he got out, he tried to
call Marie, Munley, and Reed, but received no answer.
days later Dobson learned from Marie's mother that Marie
had been arrested and was in jail. Dobson believed that his
name had been kept out of the operation, but neither Reed nor
Munley would return his calls. Approximately two months
later, he learned from Marie's mother that it was known
that he had assisted the police in arresting Marie because
the information leading up to her arrest had been given to
Marie's lawyer. When Dobson finally spoke to Munley, she
told him that he should have known how the matter would end.
August 4, 2017, Dobson received a letter sent from the
Commonwealth, signed by defendant Lang, an Assistant
Commonwealth's Attorney, and directed "To whom it
may concern:" The letter stated that Dobson had helped
the Commonwealth arrest Marie and charge her with five counts
of solicitation of murder. The letter continued that Dobson
helped save several lives and put his own life and that of
his loved ones in danger, as follows:
As a result of trial discovery obligations, Marie Leary is
very much aware of the role Mr. Dobson played in her eventual
arrest. As a result many of his personal relationships have
been forever ruined. More importantly, he has now angered
Marie Leary and her two currently incarcerated sons who have
been convicted of numerous violent felonies and who have
friends that reach far beyond the jail and prison walls.
Mr. Dobson stepped forward and did the right thing and his
direct actions resulted in the saving of lives. It is asked
that he be given appropriate consideration in light of his
ECF No. 1-1 at 33.
maintains that he did not give the Commonwealth permission to
use his name and that Munley, Reed, and defendant Lang lied
to him about keeping his identity secret and have since
failed to protect him or his family. In addition, they told
him they would help him try to secure a pardon and have not
done so. He asserts that defendant Stolle, the
Commonwealth's Attorney, either knew about or oversaw the
sting operation and did nothing to stop it. ECF No. 48 at 2.
the help of a prison staff member, Dobson filed an
application for a pardon on his own behalf in December 2017.
In support of his application, Dobson obtained letters from
various members of the prison staff, including an
intelligence officer, the principal of the education
division, a member of the mental health department, a member
of the correctional staff, a case management counselor, and
the chairperson of the Whittley Art Gallery in Richmond,
Virginia. All praise Dobson for his artistic talent and for
his willingness to take on and complete tasks at BCC, such as
painting murals, designing the BCC logo, teaching art to
other inmates as part of a therapy group, illustrating a
Relapse Prevention Plan workbook, and assisting the
investigation office with various cases. It also was noted
that Dobson read all the books in the prison library and
started a literacy and reading program for his fellow
offenders. Adjectives used to describe Dobson in the letters
include "trustworthy," "mature,"
"caring," "polite," "amiable,"
and "articulate." See letters, ECF No. 1-1 at 1-9.
submitting his request for a pardon, Dobson was sure that he
no longer was safe in general population. In January 2018 he
asked to be placed in segregation and his request was
granted. ECF No. 48-1 at 8-9. In March 2018 Dobson was told
that he was going to be placed back in general population and
he objected, arguing that to do so would be putting his life
in danger. ECF No. 48-1 at 9. He also wanted assurance that
the Learys were on a list of inmates who were to be kept
separate from him. Dobson was allowed to stay in segregation.
another hearing held on April 3, 2018, prison officials told
Dobson that he was being put in for a transfer. He wanted to
stay at BCC in segregation so that he could complete
additional work on his request for a pardon. He did not want
to go into protective custody because he believed that it was
too easy for someone to attack him in protective custody. He
also did not think it ...