Andrews v. Williams
Order on Motion to Dismiss
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF ALASKA
PETER LEE ANDREWS,
CHESTER LEE WILLIAMS,
ORDER FROM CHAMBERS
Motion at Docket 25]
I. MOTION PRESENTED
At docket 25, Chester Lee Williams moves for summary judgment on Peter Lee
Andrews’s complaint.1 Andrews has filed an opposition at docket 43, and Williams has
filed a reply at docket 45. Oral argument has not been requested and would not assist
Andrews was convicted by a jury in Alaska state court of assault in the fourth
degree on Trooper Zimmerman. During the altercation between Andrews and
Zimmerman, Williams came to Zimmerman’s aid and subdued Andrews. Andrews filed
a complaint against Williams in this court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Williams
violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Williams moves for
The motion originally was filed as a motion to dismiss, but the court announced at a
status conference on May 4, 2006, that it would treat the motion as one for summary judgment.
summary judgment on the ground that Andrews cannot state a claim for relief under
Section 1983 because his conviction for assault has not been reversed.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment should be
granted when there is no genuine dispute about material facts and when the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The moving party has the burden to
show that material facts are not genuinely disputed.2 To meet this burden, the moving
party must point out the lack of evidence supporting the nonmoving party’s claim, but
need not produce evidence negating that claim.3 Once the moving party meets its
burden, the nonmoving party must demonstrate that a genuine issue exists by
presenting evidence indicating that certain facts are so disputed that a fact-finder must
resolve the dispute at trial.4 The court must view this evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, must not assess its credibility, and must draw all
justifiable inferences from it in favor of the nonmoving party.5
Because Andrews’s conviction for assault has not been reversed, he may not
pursue a claim under Section 1983 if it is based on “theories that ‘necessarily imply the
invalidity of his conviction.’”6 A theory would do that if it seeks to “negate[ ] ‘an element
of the offense of which [Andrews] has been convicted.’”7 One example of how to apply
this standard is the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Cunningham v. Gates, a Section 1983
action in which the plaintiff previously had been convicted by a jury of a criminal offense.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
Id. at 325.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).
Id. at 255; Soldano v. United States, – F.3d – , 2006 WL 1897081 (9th Cir. 2006)
(quoting Olson v. Idaho State Bd. of Med., 363 F.3d 916, 922 (9th Cir. 2004)).
Cunningham v. Gates, 312 F.3d 1148, 1153 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994)).
Id. at 1154 (quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 487 n.6).
The circuit court compared the elements of the criminal offense to the theories the
plaintiff advanced in his Section 1983 action.8 Then, it concluded the civil action was
barred because the theories on which it relied required findings contrary to those made
by the jury in the plaintiff’s criminal trial about the elements of the offense.9
Although he cites Gates, Williams does not compare the theories advanced in
Andrews’s Section 1983 action to the elements of the offense of which Andrews was
convicted. Williams simply argues “[t]o rule in this case that Officer Williams violated
[Andrews’s] constitutional rights would have the effect of indirectly invalidating
[Andrews’s] conviction” of assaulting Zimmerman,10 but does not explain why. His
failure to do that means he has not met his burden of showing he is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.
Instead of following the analysis propounded in Gates, Williams seizes on and
misuses language from that case. Williams argues his response was a “natural
consequence” of Andrews’s assault on Zimmerman and thus that Andrews’s conviction
of assaulting Zimmerman bars Andrews’s Section 1983 action against him.11 His
argument quotes from the following paragraph in Gates:
[T]here was no break between [the Section 1983 plaintiff’s] provocative act
of firing on the police and the police response that he claims was
excessive. Indeed, in convicting [the plaintiff] of felony murder, the
jury [in his criminal trial] concluded that the police response was a
natural consequence of [the plaintiff’s] provocative act. Because the
two are so closely interrelated, [the plaintiff’s] conviction forecloses his
excessive force claim.12
Williams’s contention ignores the critical fact that the conclusion that the police
response was a “natural consequence” of the plaintiff’s act was made by the jury in his
Id. at 1154-55.
Doc. 25, p. 5.
Doc. 45, pp. 4-5.
312 F.3d at 1155 (emphasis added).
criminal case. Here, there is no suggestion the jury in Andrews’s criminal trial reached
any conclusions about Williams’s response, let alone that it was a natural consequence
of Andrews’s assault on Zimmerman. Therefore, there is no reason to believe a finding
in this case relating to Williams’s response will undercut the jury’s decision in Andrews’s
Besides his argument deriving from Gates, in his reply Williams advances an
argument concerning his affidavit attached to his summary judgment motion. In his
affidavit, he declared he did not “assault” Andrews.13 In his reply, he points out,
correctly, that Andrews has not offered evidence creating a genuine issue about
whether he did assault Andrews.14 That fact no doubt is material to Andrews’s claim,
but Andrews was under no obligation to offer evidence creating a genuine issue about it
because Williams did not articulate an argument based on it in his summary judgment
motion. Williams cannot craft an argument relying on that fact for the first time in his
For the reasons set out above, the motion at docket 25 is DENIED.
DATED at Anchorage, Alaska, this 28th day of July 2006.
JOHN W. SEDWICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Doc. 25, affidavit of Williams, p. 2. ¶ 4.
Doc. 45, pp. 1-2.
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