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TUCKER v. COUNTY OF JEFFERSON

August 24, 2000

JAMES E. TUCKER, -AGAINST- PLAINTIFF, THE COUNTY OF JEFFERSON, THE COUNTY OF YATES, DALE MITCHELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS LIEUTENANT OF THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OF YATES COUNTY, BRADLEY A. QUAYLE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DEPUTY SHERIFF OF THE YATES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, DONALD A. SCHNEIDER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR YATES COUNTY, ROBERT C. FOSTER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR YATES COUNTY, MARILYN OUTWATER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS TOWN JUSTICE FOR THE TOWN OF WATERTOWN, JEFFERSON COUNTY, NEW YORK, DONALD F. NEWBERRY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SHERIFF OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, JOHN DOE AND JAMES ROE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AS DEPUTY SHERIFFS OF JEFFERSON & YATES COUNTIES; "JOHN DOE" AND "JAMES ROE" BEING FICTITIOUS NAMES, BUT MEANING AND INTENDING TO INDICATE SHERIFFS DEPUTIES WHOSE NAMES ARE NOT KNOWN TO, BUT CAUSED JAMES E. TUCKER TO BE ARRESTED AT 3:52 A.M. ON MARCH 18, 1994, AT HIS HOME IN EVANS MILLS, NEW YORK; "WILLIAM SMITH", BEING A FICTITIOUS NAME, BUT MEANING AND INTENDING TO INDICATE A MEMBER OF THE YATES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; DOUGLAS VANAMBURG; AND "JOHN SMITH", BEING A FICTITIOUS NAME, BUT MEANING AND INTENDING TO INDICATE AN INDIVIDUAL NOT A MEMBER OF A SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT WHO ACTED IN CONCERT WITH SOME OR ALL OF THE OTHER DEFENDANTS, DEFENDANTS.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: McAVOY, U.S. District Judge.

MEMORANDUM — DECISION & ORDER

Plaintiff commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights arising out of his arrest. Presently before the Court are the Jefferson County Defendants'*fn1 ("Defendants") motion for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking dismissal of the Complaint in its entirety and Plaintiff's cross-motion pursuant to FED. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking a determination of liability as a matter of law.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 4, 1993, Deputies from the Yates County, New York Sheriff's Department responded to a motor vehicle accident whereby the driver of a pickup truck lost control of the truck and struck a culvert. Plaintiff and Defendant Douglas VanAmburg were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. VanAmburg admitted to the police officers that he was driving the truck at the time of the accident. Thereupon, Yates County Sheriff's Deputy Bradley Quayle issued VanAmburg tickets charging him with driving while intoxicated ("DWI") and failure to keep right in violation of N Y VEH. & TRAF. LAW §§ 1192(3) and 1120(a) respectively. At some time between December 4, 1993 and March 1994, the Yates County Sheriff's Department canceled the tickets issued to VanAmburg.

On February 2, 1994, VanAmburg provided a voluntary statement to the Yates County Sheriff's Department stating that he was not, in fact, the operator of the truck at the time of the accident, but that he accepted responsibility to protect Plaintiff from getting another DWI charge. On March 16, 1994, over three months after the accident, Quayle filed an information in the Town Court of Italy, County of Yates, State of New York, charging that it was Plaintiff who was under the influence of alcohol and who had driven the truck into the culvert in violation of N Y VEH. & TPAF. LAW § 1192(3). That same day, Justice Duane Shay of the Town Court of Italy issued a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest executable by "any Police Officer of the Yates County Sheriff's Department" on charges of DWI and failure to keep right in violation of N Y VEH. & TRAF. LAW §§ 1192(3) and 1120(a) respectively. The warrant indicated that it "[M]ay be executed in County of issuance or adjoining County. 120.70." The warrant was returnable before the Town Court of Italy.

At 3:10 a.m. on March 18, 1994, Jefferson County Sheriff's Dispatcher Debra L. Mahon received a teletype on the New York State Police Information Network ("NYSPIN") from the Yates County Sheriff's Department. The teletype was directed to "APB ATTN JEFFERSON CO SO," marked as a "File 5," and noted that Plaintiff was wanted on a warrant for violating N.Y. VEH. & TRAF. LAW § 1192 and that bail had been set at $800 cash.

Mahon contacted Jefferson County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Larry Jobson who was on road patrol and asked him to contact her. Jobson then telephoned Mahon. Nahon told Jobson she had received a "File 5" teletype for Plaintiff's arrest and gave Jobson Plaintiff's address. Jobson later radioed Mahon stating that he could not locate that address.

Mahon performed a driver's license search to locate an address and telephone number for Plaintiff. Mahon then telephoned Plaintiff, explained to Plaintiff that Jobson was on his way to talk with him, and asked Plaintiff for directions to his home. Mahon did not inform Plaintiff that Jobson would be executing an arrest warrant. Jobson requested that Deputy Gould respond to the residence to assist him as backup.

At 3:52 a.m., the Yates County Warrant Office faxed the arrest warrant for Plaintiff along with the information and supporting deposition of VanAmburg to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Jobson arrived at Plaintiff's residence and telephoned Mahon to confirm that Plaintiff was the person named in the "File 5" teletype. Mahon confirmed Plaintiff's identity and advised Jobson that she had a facsimile copy of the arrest warrant. It is undisputed that neither Jobson nor Gould had seen the arrest warrant and supporting documents at the time they arrested Plaintiff. The parties dispute whether Plaintiff was arrested before or after Jobson telephoned Mahon.

At 4:08 a.m., Mahon sent a "warrant locate" over the NYSPIN advising the Yates County Sheriff's Department that Plaintiff had been arrested and the active file on the warrant could be canceled. The warrant locate indicated that Plaintiff was to be arraigned before Justice Outwater, Town Justice of the Town of Watertown.

Jobson then drove Plaintiff to the Town of Watertown to be arraigned. Gould drove to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to obtain copies of the arrest warrant and supporting documents faxed by Yates County. Gould then brought the documents to the court and returned to road patrol. Jobson first saw the arrest warrant and supporting documents at the arraignment. Plaintiff was arraigned and posted bail posted of $800 cash. Plaintiff was tried in the Town of Italy on the charges against him and found by a jury to be not guilty.

Plaintiff then commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 claiming violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and asserting state law claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and violations of various provisions of the New York Criminal Procedure Law. Plaintiff has since discontinued this action as against the Yates County Defendants. Presently before the Court are the Jefferson County Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking dismissal of the ...


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