Harvell v. Phillips County Sheriff Department et al
ORDER granting 21 Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissing this case with prejudice as to Harvell's probable cause claim and without prejudice as to Harvell's other claims. Signed by Judge Billy Roy Wilson on 8/23/11. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
RONNIE WHITE, Individually and in His
Official Capacity as Sheriff of Phillips
County, Arkansas, et al.
Pending is a Motion For Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 21) by Defendants Phillips
County, Arkansas and Ronnie White, individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff of
Phillips County (“Defendants”). Pro se Plaintiff Freddie Harvell (“Harvell”) has responded,1
and Defendants have replied.2 For the reasons set out below, Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED.
Harvell, a Louisiana resident, alleges that after dark on August 28, 2009, he was driving
from Marianna, Arkansas, toward Helena, Arkansas, when another car tried to run him off the
road.3 Harvell stopped at a gas station, Barton Stop and Shop, where apparently the other car also
stopped, and the individuals in the other car approached him. Harvell alleges that deputy sheriffs
of Phillips County then approached him for no reason, told him they would have him locked up,
Doc. No. 30.
Doc. No. 31.
Doc. No. 1. Harvell filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 20) adding Brian Holloway
as a defendant in his individual and official capacity. The Amended Complaint added no new
factual allegations or causes of action.
and shouted racial slurs.4 Harvell was taken to jail in Helena, where he remained from August
28, 2009 until September 14, 2009. Harvell claims he was never told why he was arrested.5
Harvell asserts that there was no probable cause for his arrest.6 He also maintains that he
was not read his Miranda rights before he was arrested and jailed, and that he was never charged
with an offense.7 Harvell alleges that he asked to talk to a lawyer while he was in custody, but
was told by jail personnel that he had no right to speak to an attorney.8 Upon his release, Harvell
“was forced” to pay $320.00 in court costs, and $275.00 to recover his vehicle, which had been
towed.9 Harvell maintains that he did not commit an offense, and that Defendants’ actions
violated his constitutional rights. Specifically, Harvell alleges he was deprived of: his liberty;
due process of law; and the right to unrestricted travel. Harvell brings his claims under 42 U.S.C.
Defendants recite a drastically different series of events, and include an arrest warrant,
affidavit for warrant of arrest, and court records in support of their version.10 According to the
Affidavit for Warrant of Arrest signed by Defendant Brian Holloway, a Deputy Sheriff, Deputy
Holloway and Arkansas State Police special agents were investigating the robbery of a bank that
Doc. Nos. 1, 30.
Doc. No. 1.
Id. Harvell alleges that Sheriff White told Harvell that this “is his jail and he would run
it as he saw fit.” Doc. No. 1, ¶ 11.
Doc. No. 1.
Doc. No. 22.
is located beside Barton Stop and Shop.11 The Phillips County Sheriff’s Office received a call
from Mathew Slane (“Slane”) that a man was threatening to kill him. Slane and the man were in
an altercation at Barton Stop and Shop.12 When Deputy Holloway arrived at the scene, Slane told
him that the suspect (Harvell) was leaving the scene driving a green SUV.13 Sheriff White and
several Arkansas State Troopers stopped Harvell’s SUV, and Harvell yelled racial slurs at the
officers.14 Deputy Holloway calmed Harvell down, after which Harvell said he threatened to
shoot Slane because Slane was driving too close behind him.15 The Affidavit continues that
Harvell was then arrested and moved to the Phillips County Detention Center, but does not
identify who made the arrest. The Warrant of Arrest found reasonable grounds for believing that
Harvell committed the offense of terroristic threatening in the second degree in violation of
Arkansas Code Annotated § 5-13-301.16 The information in the Arkansas Arrest/Disposition
Report17 and in the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office Incident Report18 is consistent with that in
the Affidavit for Warrant of Arrest.
The Phillips County Jail Booking Information Sheet shows the charges against Harvell as
Doc. No. 22, Ex. A.
Doc. No. 22, Ex. B.
Doc. No. 22, Ex. C.
terroristic threatening and disorderly conduct.19 The Court Session Worksheet20 shows that at
Harvell’s September 11, 2009 arraignment, Harvell was advised of his right to an attorney and
signed a waiver of that right.21 Harvell pled guilty to the charge of terroristic threatening,22 paid
$320 in costs and fees, and was released the same day.
In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants contend that Harvell’s official
capacity claim against Sheriff White must fail because Harvell does not identify a governmental
policy or custom that caused Harvell’s alleged harm.23 Defendants also contend that there was
probable cause for Harvell’s arrest.24 Defendants maintain that inmates in the Helena jail may
make calls whenever they wish, and that Harvell’s allegations that he was not allowed to call a
lawyer are unfounded. Lastly, Defendants maintain that because Sheriff White was not the
arresting officer, Sheriff White cannot be held liable for Plaintiff’s Miranda claim. Harvell
For entirely different reasons, I conclude that Harvell’s case cannot proceed.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact, so
that the dispute may be decided on purely legal grounds.25 The Supreme Court has established
guidelines to assist trial courts in determining whether this standard has been met:
Doc. No. 22, Ex. D.
Helena-West Helena District Court Case No. CR-09-3650.
Doc. No. 22, Ex. D.
Doc. No. 22.
Holloway v. Lockhart, 813 F.2d 874 (8th Cir. 1987); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.
The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the
need for a trial -- whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that
properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be
resolved in favor of either party.26
The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has cautioned that summary judgment is an
extreme remedy that should be granted only when the movant has established a right to the
judgment beyond controversy.27 Nevertheless, summary judgment promotes judicial economy
by preventing trial when no genuine issue of fact remains.28 I must view the facts in the light
most favorable to the party opposing the motion.29 The Eighth Circuit has also set out the burden
of the parties in connection with a summary judgment motion:
[T]he burden on the party moving for summary judgment is only to demonstrate,
i.e.,“[to point] out to the District Court,” that the record does not disclose a genuine
dispute on a material fact. It is enough for the movant to bring up the fact that the
record does not contain such an issue and to identify that part of the record which
bears out his assertion. Once this is done, his burden is discharged, and, if the record
in fact bears out the claim that no genuine dispute exists on any material fact, it is
then the respondent’s burden to set forth affirmative evidence, specific facts,
that there is a genuine dispute on that issue. If the respondent fails to carry
that burden, summary judgment should be granted.30
Only disputes over facts that may affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.31
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).
Inland Oil & Transport Co. v. United States, 600 F.2d 725, 727 (8th Cir. 1979).
Id. at 728.
Id. at 727-28.
Counts v. MK-Ferguson Co., 862 F.2d 1338, 1339 (8th Cir. 1988) (quoting City of Mt.
Pleasant v. Associated Elec. Coop., 838 F.2d 268, 273-74 (8th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted)).
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
Harvell pled guilty to the charge of terroristic threatening in the case against him in
Phillips County, Arkansas.32 Here, Harvell seeks damages for allegedly unconstitutional acts
leading up to his Arkansas state conviction.
“[I]n order to recover damages for . . . harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness
would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the
conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive
order, [or] declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination
. . . .”33
A claim for damages in connection with a conviction that has not been invalidated is not
cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.34 Harvell cannot question probable cause for his arrest here,
because finding there was no probable cause would necessarily imply the invalidity of Harvell’s
Arkansas state-court conviction of terroristic threatening.35 I will not consider that claim.
Because the record is silent as to alleged custodial interrogations and statements made, I
am uncertain of what Harvell seeks under Miranda. Further, even independent of Heck, “a guilty
plea foreclose[s] any claim that [Harvell] was arrested without probable cause.”36 So, I cannot
consider that claim either.
Harvell also contended that his rights were violated by not being allowed to call a lawyer.
Doc. No. 22, Exh. D. Helena-West Helena District Court Case No. CR-09-3650.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994).
See Sanders v. Fayetteville City Police Dep’t, 160 Fed. Appx. 542, 543 (8th Cir. 2005)
(citing Smithart v. Towery, 79 F.3d 951, 952 (9th Cir. 1996) (“allegations that defendants lacked
probable cause to arrest him and brought unfounded criminal charges challenge validity of
conviction and are Heck-barred.”).
See Gooden v. Lovorn, 32 Fed. Appx. 179, 180-181 (8th Cir. 2002) (citing Williams v.
Schario, 93 F.3d 527, 529 (8th 1996)).
Reading Harvell’s Complaint liberally as required with pro se plaintiffs, I cannot see that the ban
on telephone use was alleged as punishment for Harvell as a pretrial detainee. Rather, the
Complaint implies that the alleged restriction was interference with Harvell’s defense. A
favorable decision on what is apparently a defense-interference claim is barred by Heck and will
not be considered here.37
Because under Heck and other precedent Harvell’s claims fail, Defendants’ Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 21) is GRANTED and this case is DISMISSED with prejudice as
to Harvell’s probable cause claim, and without prejudice as to Harvell’s other claims.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 23rd day of August, 2011.
/s/Billy Roy Wilson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
See Phillips v. Kiser, 172 Fed. Appx. 128, 129 (8th Cir. 2006) (defense-interference
claim was Heck-barred because a favorable decision would call into question the fairness of trial,
thus undermining the validity of the conviction).
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