Ledlow v. State of Alabama et al (INMATE2)

Filing 21

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Mag Judge that: re 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Troy King be granted; 2) Ledlow's challenges to the Alabama Community Notification Act be dismissed without prejudice as these challenges are not yet ripe; and 3) No costs be taxed herein Objections to R&R due by 5/20/2009. Signed by Honorable Wallace Capel, Jr on 5/7/09. (vma, )

Download PDF
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA NORTHERN DIVISION ____________________________ R O D N E Y LEDLOW, #137 631 A /K /A STAN LEDLOW P l a in tif f , * v. * T R O Y KING, * D e f e n d a n t. ____________________________ R E C O M M E N D A T I O N OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE In this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, Rodney Ledlow, a/k/a Stan Ledlow ["Ledlow"], a s ta te inmate, alleges that the Alabama Community Notification Act ["the Act"], Ala. Code 1 9 7 5 15-20-20 et seq. (1975, as amended), is unconstitutional as applied to him. S p e c if ic a lly, Ledlow complains that application of the Act infringes upon his constitutional rig h t to due process and imposes unconstitutional punishment under the Ex Post Facto and D o u b le Jeopardy Clauses. Troy King, Attorney General for the State of Alabama, is the n a m e d defendant. Ledlow requests release from the Act's notification requirements which w e re enacted after he was sentenced, full rights under Alabama law as afforded similarly s itu a te d individuals who were convicted prior to enactment of the Act, and injunctive relief to enjoin any stigma against his name and character as a result of the Act's registration re q u ire m e n ts . (Doc. No. 1.) Pursuant to the orders of this court, Defendant filed an answer, special report, and 2:08-CV-269-WKW (WO) * * supporting evidentiary material addressing Plaintiff's claims for relief. (Doc. No. 14.) The c o u rt then informed Ledlow that Defendant's special report may, at any time, be treated as a motion for summary judgment, and the court explained to Ledlow the proper manner in w h ic h to respond to a motion for summary judgment. Ledlow filed a response to the special re p o rt filed by Defendant. (Doc. No. 17.) This case is now pending on Defendant's motion f o r summary judgment. Upon consideration of such motion, the evidentiary materials filed in support thereof, and Ledlow's opposition to the motion, the court concludes that D e f en d a n t's motion for summary judgment is due to be granted. I. STANDARD OF REVIEW " S u m m a ry judgment is appropriate `if the pleadings, depositions, answers to in te rro g a to rie s, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no g e n u i n e issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a m atter of law.'" Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11 th C ir.2 0 0 7 ) (per curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The party moving for summary ju d g m e n t "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis f o r its motion, and identifying those portions of the `pleadings, depositions, answers to in te rro g a to rie s, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes d e m o n s tra te the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U .S . 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence showing th e re is no dispute of material fact or by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to p re se n t evidence in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-324. Defendant has met his evidentiary burden and demonstrated the absence of a genuine is s u e of material fact. Thus, the burden shifts to Plaintiff to establish, with evidence beyond th e pleadings, that a genuine issue material to his case exists. Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 9 2 9 F.2d 604, 608 (11 th Cir.1991); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (non-movant must "go beyond th e pleadings and ... designate `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for tria l.'" ); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) ("When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported ... an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleading, but [h is] response ... must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."). A genuine issue of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence that w o u ld allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263. In civil actions filed by inmates, federal courts must distinguish between evidence of disputed facts and disputed matters of p rof essio n al judgment. In respect to the latter, our inferences must accord d e f e re n c e to the views of prison authorities. Unless a prisoner can point to su f f icie n t evidence regarding such issues of judgment to allow him to prevail o n the merits, he cannot prevail at the summary judgment stage. B e a rd v. Banks, 548 U.S.521, 530, 126 S.Ct. 2572, 2578, 165 L.Ed.2d 697 (2006). C o n se q u e n tly, to survive Defendant's properly supported motions for summary judgment, P lain tiff is required to produce "sufficient [favorable] evidence" which would be admissible a t trial supporting his claims of constitutional violations. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 4 7 7 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). "If the evidence [on which the nonmoving party relies] is merely colorable ... or is not significantly probative ... summary judgment may be granted." A n d e rs o n , 477 U.S. at 249-250. "A mere `scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing p a rty's position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] c o u ld reasonably find for that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2 5 0 5 , 2512, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)." Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1576-1577 (11 th Cir. 1 9 9 0 ). Conclusory allegations based on subjective beliefs are likewise insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact and, therefore, do not provide sufficient evidence to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., Inc., 276 F.3d 1 2 7 5 , 1279 (11 th Cir. 2001); Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1564 n.6 (11 th Cir. 1997) (p la in tif f 's "conclusory assertions ..., in the absence of supporting evidence, are insufficient to withstand summary judgment."); Harris v. Ostrout, 65 F.3d 912, 916 (11 th Cir. 1995) (g ra n t of summary judgment appropriate where inmate produces nothing beyond "his own c o n c lu so ry allegations" challenging a defendant's actions); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 5 5 3 , 557 (11 th Cir. 1984) ("mere verification of party's own conclusory allegations is not su f f icie n t to oppose summary judgment...."). Hence, when a plaintiff fails to set forth s p e c if ic facts supported by appropriate evidence sufficient to establish the existence of an e lem e n t essential to his case and on which the plaintiff will bear the burden of proof at trial, s u m m a ry judgment is due to be granted in favor of the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 3 2 2 ("[F]ailure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case n e c e ss a rily renders all other facts immaterial."); Barnes v. Southwest Forest Industries, Inc., 8 1 4 F.2d 607, 609 (11 th Cir. 1987) (if on any part of the prima facie case the plaintiff presents insufficient evidence to require submission of the case to the trier of fact, granting of su m m ary judgment is appropriate). F o r summary judgment purposes, only disputes involving material facts are relevant. W h a t is material is determined by the substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U .S . at 248. "The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment u n le s s that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome of the case." M c C o rm ick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11 th Cir. 2003) (citation o m i tt e d ) . To demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact, the party opposing summary ju d g m e n t "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the m a ter ial facts. . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to fin d for the nonmoving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. C o . v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In cases where the evidence before the c o u rt which is admissible on its face or which can be reduced to admissible form indicates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the party moving for summary ju d g m e n t is entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. a t 323-324 (summary judgment appropriate where pleadings, evidentiary materials and af fid av its before the court show there is no genuine issue as to a requisite material fact); W a d d e ll, 276 F.3d at 1279 (to establish a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party m u st produce evidence such that a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict in his favor). A lth o u g h factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the n o n m o v in g party, and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a pro se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine is s u e of material fact. Beard, 548 U.S. at 525, 126 S.Ct. at 2576; Brown v. Crawford, 906 F .2 d 667, 670 (11 th Cir. 1990). In this case, Ledlow fails to demonstrate a requisite genuine is s u e of material fact in order to preclude summary judgment. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. I I . DISCUSSION L e d lo w is incarcerated on a conviction for first degree rape entered against by the C irc u it Court for Jefferson County, Alabama, in 1984. As a result of that conviction, Ledlow is subject to application of the Alabama Community Notification Act according to its terms. L e d lo w 's current release date is September 18, 2010. (See Doc. No. 14 and attachments.) T h u s , the claims presented in the instant action challenging the constitutionality of the A la b a m a Community Notification Act relate to possible future application of the Act. Under th e facts of this case and applicable federal law, the court concludes that these claims are not rip e for adjudication. Kirby v. Siegelman, 195 F.3d 1285, 1289-1290 (11 th Cir. 1999). A s part of the "case or controversy" requirement of A rticle III, a party must suffer injury or come into immediate d a n g e r of suffering an injury before challenging a statute. See O 'S h e a v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 494, 94 S.Ct. 669, 38 L.Ed.2d 6 7 4 (1974). Essentially, the ripeness requirement "prevent[s] th e courts, through the avoidance of premature adjudication, f ro m entangling themselves in abstract disagreements." Abbott L a b o r a to r ie s v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148, 87 S.Ct. 1507, 18 L .E d .2 d 681 (1967). The ripeness requirement prevents courts f r o m interfering with legislative enactments before it is n e c es s a ry to do so, and enhances judicial decision-making by e n s u r in g that cases present courts with an adequate record for e f f e c tiv e review. Id. Ripeness requires the weighing of two fa cto rs: (1) the hardship to the parties of withholding court c o n sid e ra tio n ; and (2) the fitness of the issues for judicial re v ie w . Id. at 139, 87 S.Ct. 1507. In Artway v. Attorney General of State of N.J., 81 F.3d 1 2 3 5 (3 r d Cir. 1996), the Third Circuit thoroughly examined the rip e n e ss requirement as applied to New Jersey's community n o tif ic a tio n law. Artway involved a convicted sex offender who s o u g h t an injunction against the enforcement of a New Jersey sta tu te requiring certain convicted sex offenders to register with lo c a l law enforcement officials. Additionally, the statute p ro v id e d for community notification upon the release of certain s e x offenders. The district court upheld the registration c o m p o n e n t of the statute, but enjoined enforcement of the c o m m u n ity notification provision. On appeal, the Third Circuit h e ld that the challenge to the notification aspects of the statute w a s not ripe. We agree with the reasoning of the Third Circuit, a n d follow its analysis in considering the State's argument that [ th e Ledlow's constitutional] challenges are not ripe. Id. This court must first consider whether Ledlow "has suffered injury or come into im m e d ia te danger of suffering injury. Artway v. Attorney General of State of N.J., 81 F.3d 1 2 3 5 , 1246 (3 r d Cir. 1996). This factor inquires whether a credible threat of injury exists, or ra th e r a mere speculative threat insufficient for Article III purposes. See Babbitt v. United F a r m Workers Nat'l Union, 442 U.S. 289, 298, 99 S.Ct. 2301, 60 L.Ed.2d 895 (1979)." Kirby, 195 F.3d at 1290. Ledlow's challenge to the registration and notification provisions o f the Act does not, at this time, meet this element of the ripeness requirement. Ledlow's s c h e d u le d release is still more than one year away.1 This court "may not pass upon h yp o th e tic a l matters." Id. The court further finds that Ledlow "faces no hardship from [this c o u rt's ] denying review of his . . . challenge[s] at this point; he is not going anywhere and The requirements of the Act only come into play 45 days prior to a criminal sex offender's release from prison. See Ala. Code 15-20-22(a). 1 his prior . . . conviction record is not going to change." Id. See also United States v. Veal, 3 2 2 F.3d 1275, 1278 (11 th Cir. 2003) (challenge to term of supervised release which required c o m p lian c e with state sex offender laws not ripe because unclear whether law "would remain in effect and unamended" until defendant's release). Thus, Defendant is entitled to summary ju d g m e n t. I I I . CONCLUSION A c c o rd in g ly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that: 1 . Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 14) be GRANTED; 2. Ledlow's challenges to the Alabama Community Notification Act be DISMISSED w ith o u t prejudice as these challenges are not yet ripe; and 3 . NO costs be taxed herein. It is further O R D E R E D that on or before May 20, 2009 the parties may file objections to this R e c o m m e n d a tio n . Any objections filed must clearly identify the findings in the Magistrate J u d g e 's Recommendation to which a party objects. Frivolous, conclusive or general o b jec tio n s will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are advised that this R e c o m m e n d a tio n is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not appealable. F a i l u r e to file written objections to the proposed findings and advisements in the M a g is tra te Judge's Recommendation shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the D is tric t Court of issues covered in the Recommendation and shall bar the party from a tta c k in g on appeal factual findings in the Recommendation accepted or adopted by the District Court except upon grounds of plain error or manifest injustice. Nettles v. W a in w r ig h t, 677 F.2d 404 (5th Cir. 1982). See Stein v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 3 3 (11th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206 (11th Cir. 1981, en b a n c ), adopting as binding precedent all decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981. Done, this 7th day of May, 2009. /s / Wallace Capel, Jr. WALLACE CAPEL, JR. U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?