Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JOHNS v. TOWN OF EAST HAMPTON

September 20, 1996

FRANCES A. JOHNS, JUDAH L. JOHNS, by and through his mother and best friend FRANCES A. JOHNS, and JANNAH R. JOHNS, by and through her mother and best friend FRANCES A. JOHNS, Plaintiffs, against TOWN OF EAST HAMPTON, TOWN OF EAST HAMPTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, RICHARD FAULHABER individually and in his official capacity as Police Detective/Officer/Sergeant, STANTON BARBOUR BULLOCK ("TONY BULLOCK") individually and in his official capacities as Town Supervisor and as Police Commissioner, and THOMAS L. SCOTT, in his official capacity as Police Chief and individually, and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SEYBERT

 SEYBERT, District Judge:

 In the instant civil-rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiffs Frances A. Johns (hereinafter "Mrs. Johns"), Judah L. Johns (Mrs. Johns' minor son, hereinafter "Judah"), and Jannah R. Johns (Mrs. Johns' minor daughter, hereinafter "Jannah") allege that, on August 23, 1994, defendant Richard Faulhaber, a police detective employed by defendant Town of East Hampton Police Department, unlawfully entered plaintiffs' home and interrogated Judah in his bedroom without his mother's knowledge or consent. In addition to this incident, plaintiffs allege constitutional violations resulting from the Town of East Hampton's failure to investigate properly this incident and discipline Detective Faulhaber, and subsequent retaliatory conduct against the plaintiffs for filing a civilian complaint against Detective Faulhaber. The following parties are named as defendants in this action: (a) the Town of East Hampton; (b) the Town of East Hampton Police Department; (c) Police Detective Faulhaber (sued in both his individual and official capacities); (d) Town Supervisor and Police Commissioner Stanton Barbour Bullock (sued in both his individual and official capacities); (e) Police Chief Thomas L. Scott (sued in both his individual and official capacities); and (f) John Does 1-10, which is intended to designate other members of the Town of East Hampton Police Force whose identities have not yet been determined.

 Pending before the Court are two separate motions. First, defendants move to dismiss all of plaintiffs' claims except for the Fourth Amendment claim against defendant Faulhaber arising out of his alleged entry into and search of Judah's bedroom. Second, plaintiffs cross-move for leave to file an amended complaint consistent with the Court's instructions on the motion to dismiss.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 The allegations of the plaintiffs' complaint center around three separate transactions: (a) the entry by Faulhaber into the Johns' home on the morning of August 23, 1994, and his alleged search of Judah's room and interrogation of Judah outside the presence of his mother; (b) the filing by Mrs. Johns of a civilian complaint report on September 15, 1994 in connection with the foregoing incident, and the disposition of her complaint; and (c) the alleged "retaliation" against Mrs. Johns and her family for the filing of the civilian complaint and for otherwise making public statements concerning the underlying incident.

 A. The Search and Interrogation

 According to plaintiffs' complaint, Detective Faulhaber first went to the Johns' home on the evening of August 20, 1994 in the company of another police officer. Faulhaber asked for Mrs. Johns and Judah, but was told by a visitor that neither was home. When Mrs. Johns later returned to her residence, she called the Police Department and inquired of the sergeant on duty concerning the purpose of Faulhaber's visit. The sergeant was unable to provide any information.

 On the morning of August 23, 1994, shortly after Mrs. Johns had left for work, Faulhaber returned alone to the Johns' residence. Jannah, Mrs. Johns' then-13-year-old daughter, responded to Faulhaber's knock on the door, and was told that the detective wished to speak to her then-15-year-old brother, Judah. Jannah advised Faulhaber that Judah was downstairs in his bedroom still asleep. Faulhaber asked where the bedroom was and Jannah told him its location.

 The Complaint alleges that without the permission of any occupant of the Johns' home, Faulhaber walked through the house to Judah's room, attempted to open the door but found it locked, pounded on the door until Judah opened it, entered the bedroom, and proceeded to look at Judah's possessions around the room. Then, standing between Judah and the doorway and blocking Judah's path of exit, Detective Faulhaber interrogated Judah concerning a burglary of baseball cards committed at the home of Scott Griffiths. Judah made no admissions to the detective, nor did the detective find or seize any contraband or evidence. After spending about fifteen minutes in the Johns' family home, Faulhaber left.

 On September 5, 1994, Juvenile Aid Officer Tina Giles went to the Johns' home and arranged with Mrs. Johns for the interrogation of Judah the next day. Officer Giles returned on September 6, 1994, and questioned Judah at his home in the presence of his mother.

 B. The Civilian Complaint

 On September 15, 1994, Mrs. Johns prepared, signed and filed a civilian complaint report concerning the incident on August 23rd, in which she alleged as follows:

 
On the morning of 8/23/94, Officer Faulhaber came to my residence. My daughter, age 13, came to the door. He asked for my son, Judah, age 15. My daughter said he was home, but still asleep. He then asked my daughter where his room was located in the house and she told him, and he proceeded to go in the room and did question my son without my permission and knowledge about a burglary he was working on.

 Pls.' Compl. Ex. 2.

 Defendant Scott, the Chief of Police and highest ranking officer in the Town of East Hampton Police Department, thereupon personally established an Internal Affairs file in connection with the complaint. Scott then spoke personally with Mrs. Johns on the telephone, and personally interviewed Faulhaber. Scott concluded the matter by issuing a written "counseling report," admonishing Faulhaber for a "lack of judgment."

 Dissatisfied with what she perceived to be inadequate disciplinary action against Faulhaber, Mrs. Johns spoke with a reporter for a local newspaper, expressing her public criticism of the conduct of the Town and the Town Police Department in connection with the manner in which the incident was handled. An article embodying her remarks appeared in the newspaper shortly thereafter. In addition, in January 1995, at a televised meeting of the Town Board of the Town of East Hampton, Mrs. Johns publicly complained about Detective Faulhaber's unauthorized intrusion into her home and interrogation of her minor child about a crime.

 C. The Alleged Retaliation

 Plaintiffs allege that promptly after Mrs. Johns filed the civilian complaint with the police department, defendants engaged in retaliatory conduct through their heightened police patrol of plaintiffs' home, their increased surveillance of plaintiffs' home, their investigatory conduct, and by disseminating information to the neighboring village police departments. Specifically, plaintiffs aver that "officers came to the Johns' Family home on several occasions ostensibly looking for persons in connection with investigations when a telephone call would have sufficed," and that "officers promised one or more of Judah's acquaintances that they would not be prosecuted for wrongdoing" if they informed against Judah in connection with "an alleged criminal mischief" of which Judah was suspected.

 In addition, following Mrs. Johns' televised address to the Town Board, during which she made reference to another son of hers who had been "sent to prison as a result of a plea bargain," defendant Bullock, the Town Supervisor and Police ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.