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Hughes v. McWilliams

December 16, 2009

TERRY HUGHES, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SADDLE RIVER POLICE CHIEF TIMOTHY MCWILLIAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kimba M. Wood, U.S.D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se Plaintiff Terry Hughes ("Plaintiff") brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the standards set forth in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging that Defendants committed various unconstitutional acts against him. The Court dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims, except Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Thomas Conway for violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights, and Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Daniel Hourihan for violation of Plaintiff's First Amendment rights. Defendants Conway and Hourihan now move for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff, in a series of letter motions submitted to the Court, also moves for summary judgment on a number of disparate issues.*fn1 The Court referred the parties' motions to Magistrate Judge Lisa M. Smith for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). In October 2009, Magistrate Judge Smith issued a Report and Recommendation ("Report"), familiarity with which is assumed. The Report recommended that the Court grant Conway's and Hourihan's motions for summary judgment and deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed timely objections to certain of the Report's recommendations.

For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the Report's recommendations, GRANTS Conway's and Hourihan's motions for summary judgment, and DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

I. Background

In August 2002, a confidential informant told the New York City Joint Terrorism Task Force ("JTTF") that Plaintiff claimed to have access to chemicals that he intended to use to poison a water supply located in New York, and that Plaintiff possessed a M-16 machine gun. Members of the JTTF, including Defendant Hourihan, believed that Plaintiff had been arrested previously for aggravated assault. Hourihan and other JTTF officers obtained warrants authorizing Plaintiff's arrest and the search of his home and property on suspicion that he had violated 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), which makes it illegal to possess a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. After his detention, the Government brought a second criminal complaint against Plaintiff, charging him with sending a threatening communication via interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). At the Government's request, the § 922(g)(1) charge was dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff then was released on bail.

As a result of the federal charges against him, Plaintiff's employer, the County of Orange, terminated Plaintiff's employment, on the ground that he had falsely completed his employment application by omitting that he had been convicted of a crime. In late September 2002, the Orange County Sheriff arrested Plaintiff and charged him with two counts of filing a false instrument in violation of New York State law. Defendant Conway, a detective in the Orange County Sherrif's office, was responsible for obtaining the arrest warrant and preparing and filing the charges against Plaintiff. Before doing so, Conway conducted a computer background check on Plaintiff and received a report from the New York State Police Information Network ("NYSPIN") stating that Plaintiff had been convicted of aggravated assault in Bergen County, New Jersey in 1972. Orange County later dropped all charges against Plaintiff when it discovered that Plaintiff had obtained an order of expungement from the Bergen County, New Jersey Superior Court in 1984, expunging his conviction for aggravated assault.

Plaintiff brought this action against numerous municipal entities and individual defendants, raising constitutional claims based upon his arrests and the termination of his employment. In 2008, Judge Stephen C. Robinson dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims, except: (1) claims against Conway for false arrest and malicious prosecution in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights; and (2) a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim against Hourihan.

Following discovery, Conway and Hourihan moved separately for summary judgment. In a series of letter motions to the Court, Plaintiff also moved for summary judgment on a number of disparate issues. In her Report, Magistrate Judge Smith recommended that the Court grant Conway's and Hourihan's motions for summary judgment, and deny Plaintiff's motion as moot. On November 23, 2009, Plaintiff filed timely objections to the Report's recommendation that the Court grant Conway's motion for summary judgment.*fn2 Plaintiff does not object to the Report's recommendations to grant Hourihan's motion and to deny Plaintiff's motion as moot.

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard for Reviewing Report and Recommendation

Where a party has filed timely objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the Court reviews the report and recommendation de novo. Where a party has not filed objections, the Court reviews the report and recommendation only for clear error. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed R. Civ. P. 72(b).

B. Conway's Motion for Summary Judgment

Plaintiff timely objected to the Report's recommendation to grant Conway's motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court reviews Conway's motion for summary judgment de novo. The Court holds that Plaintiff has failed to establish ...


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