HENDRICK v. CLARK COUNTY et al
ORDER granting 35 Motion for Summary Judgment as to Counts I and II of Plaintiff's Complaint. All claims have now been resolved, final Judgment shall enter accordingly. See Order for details. Signed by Judge Sarah Evans Barker on 5/10/2017. (LBT)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
NEW ALBANY DIVISION
JAMES D. HENDRICK,
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This cause is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment
[Docket No. 35], filed on September 16, 2016, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56. For the reasons explained herein, Defendants’ motion is GRANTED.
On May 10, 2012, Plaintiff James Hendrick was enrolled in the Clark County
Drug Treatment Court Program (“DTC Program”) after pleading guilty to possession of
marijuana and admitting to having violated his probation.
Upon entering the program, Hendrick signed a Drug Court Agreement, which
explained that, in exchange for agreeing to enter the DTC Program, the Clark Circuit
Court would defer entering a judgment of conviction against him and would instead
subject him to the conditions established by the DTC Program. Hendrick Dep. Ex. 7 at ¶
1. If Hendrick successfully completed the DTC Program, the State would move to
dismiss with prejudice the charges to which he had pled guilty. Id. If, however, the court
determined that Hendrick had violated any of the conditions of the Drug Court
Agreement, his participation in the DTC Program would be terminated (following a “due
process hearing on Petition to Terminate”), a judgment of conviction would be entered
against him, and he would be sentenced pursuant to the plea agreement for his offenses.
Id. at ¶ 2, 4.
Of particular relevance here is the requirement under the Drug Court Agreement
that Hendrick “notify his case manager and treatment providers within 24 hours of any
change in residence, mailing address, phone number, or employment.” Id. at ¶ 21. He was
also notified that a “[f]ailure to meet with Staff as directed,” or any other “noncompliance with Drug Court requirements defined in this Agreement … may result in
sanctions from the Judge, including short[-]term jail detention for each new incident and
the possibility of termination from the Program.” Id. at ¶ 19.
The Agreement also contained the following release/waiver provision:
The Defendant releases and forever discharges the
complaining witness, victims, judge, prosecutor, defense
counsel, police departments, drug court staff, and service
providers and their respective heirs, successors and executors
from any and all claims of any kind or nature whatsoever,
either in law in inequity (sic), arising out of his or her arrest,
participation in, or terminations from, the Drug Court Program
and does expressly release and forever hold harmless from any
criminal or civil action which the Defendant may have a right
to bring as a result of the Defendant’s arrest or participation in
the Drug Treatment Court Program.
Id. at ¶ 11.
In September 2013, Hendrick was participating in the DTC Program and residing
at “Jerry’s Place,” a Drug Court-approved halfway house owned and operated by Jerry
Westmoreland. During that time, Hendrick was using a prepaid cellular phone, the
number for which he had provided to his case manager, Mr. Seybold. However, on
Friday, September 20, 2013, when Hendrick was nearing the end of his prepaid minutes
on the phone, he purchased a new prepaid phone with a new number. Hendrick gave the
new phone number to Jerry Westmoreland, but did not contact his case manager, Mr.
Seybold, to provide it to him.
The following day, on September 21, 2013, Hendrick took advantage of a
“weekend pass” issued by Westmoreland. According to Hendrick, the pass allowed him
to spend the night outside the halfway house. Before departing Jerry’s Place for the night,
Hendrick left contact information with Westmoreland, including the name, phone
number, and address of the friend with whom he would be staying. That evening, the
Director of the Drug Court Program, Susan Knoebel, and the Drug Court Bailiff, Jeremy
Snelling, conducted home visits and curfew compliance checks of participants of the
DTC Program. Following up on reports that, contrary to DTC Program rules, residents of
Jerry’s Place were being given weekend passes, Knoebel contacted the Jerry’s Place
house manager, John Doss, who confirmed that approximately five DTC Program
participants, including Hendrick, had been issued weekend passes.
Snelling called the phone numbers on file with the DTC for each of the five
participants, informing them that the weekend passes issued by Westmoreland were not
allowed by the Program and instructing the participants to return to Jerry’s Place by the
regular 11:00 p.m. curfew. Given that Hendrick’s phone number that was on file with the
DTC had run out of minutes the day prior, Snelling was unable to reach Hendrick,
resulting in several voices messages being left for him.
Later that evening, Knoebel and Snelling travelled to Jerry’s Place to confirm that
the participants whom Snelling had been able to reach had returned to the halfway house
by the 11:00 p.m. curfew. While at the residence, they spoke with Doss and
Westmoreland concerning Hendrick’s whereabouts. The parties dispute whether Doss
and Westmoreland provided Knoebel and Snelling with Hendrick’s new phone number as
well as the number and address of the friend with whom Hendrick was staying that night;
however, it is undisputed that no attempts were made to reach Hendrick at either of those
numbers that evening. Knoebel logged her attempts to reach Hendrick into the court’s
case management system, and she and Snelling returned to the courthouse to complete
their duties for the night.
The next morning, upon discovering that Knoebel and Snelling had been looking
for him, Hendrick called the DTC emergency hotline and left a message stating that
though he had been away on a weekend pass, he had now returned to Jerry’s Place. Iris
Rubadue, another member of the DTC staff, returned Hendrick’s call and left a message
stating that they knew he was away on a weekend pass, that “everything was fine,” and
that he could call back if he had any questions. Hendrick attempted to call back, but his
call went unanswered.
On Monday morning, after having been notified of Hendrick’s calls to the hotline,
Knoebel told Hendrick’s case manager, Mr. Seybold, to contact Hendrick and inform him
that he needed to report to the DTC Office immediately. At approximately 10:40 a.m.,
Seybold reached Hendrick by phone at Hendrick’s place of employment, Rocky’s Sub
Pub, and informed him that he must report to the DTC Office “as soon as possible.”
Hendrick understood the instruction to mean that he should report to the DTC Office
immediately after his shift at Rocky’s ended. Thus, as of 1:30 p.m. that afternoon,
Hendrick had still not reported to the office, prompting Knoebel to inform the supervising
judge of the Drug Treatment Court, Clark Circuit Judge Jerome F. Jacobi, that Hendrick
had not been located at Jerry’s Place on Saturday night and that he had not promptly
reported to the office on Monday morning.
Shortly thereafter, Judge Jacobi conducted a warrant hearing on the record, during
which Knoebel testified regarding her efforts to locate Hendrick on Saturday, his phone
calls on Sunday, and his instructions to report on Monday. Judge Jacobi also spoke by
phone with Jerry Westmoreland, who reported that Hendrick had returned to Jerry’s
Place on Sunday evening and that he (Westmoreland) had instructed Hendrick to report
to the DTC Office first thing Monday morning. Judge Jacobi indicated on the record that
a warrant would issue for Hendrick’s arrest.
According to Defendants, an off-the-record conversation occurred following the
hearing, during which Judge Jacobi instructed Snelling and Knoebel to “locate” Hendrick
and take him to the Clark County Jail. Although neither Knoebel nor Snelling possessed
the legal power to make an arrest beyond the courthouse premises, they drove to
Hendrick’s place of employment, handcuffed Hendrick behind his back, escorted
Hendrick out of the restaurant and into a county-owned car, and transported Hendrick to
the Clark County Jail, where he was held for three days until he appeared at a hearing on
Thursday September 26, 2013, and for an additional thirty days thereafter, until October
25, 2013. 1
On April 15, 2015, Hendrick filed this lawsuit against Defendants Clark County,
Clark County Sheriff, John and Jane Does 1–5, Susan Knoebel, and Jeremy Snelling.
Dkt. 1. Hendrick alleged in his Complaint that Knoebel and Snelling committed an
unreasonable seizure and unlawful arrest in violation of Fourth Amendment (Counts I &
II) and unlawfully deprived him of his liberty in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment’s Due Process Clause (Count III). He also alleged that Clark County and the
Clark County Sheriff were liable for these constitutional violations under Monell v. Dep’t
of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978) (Count IV). In addition, Hendrick raised claims
Defendants maintain that they offered Hendrick the option of declining to return with them, in which
case they would contact local law enforcement officers to arrest him and take him to jail. Plaintiff
disputes this account and maintains that when Knoebel and Snelling arrived, they simply asked him to
place his hands behind his back and proceeded to escort him to their vehicle without ever offering him the
alternative of being arrested by the Jeffersonville Police.
against Knoebel, Snelling, and Clark County for battery, false imprisonment, false arrest,
and negligence in violation of Indiana law (Counts V–VIII).
On September 16, 2016, Defendants filed motions for summary judgment on
Plaintiff’s claims. Dkts. 35, 37. In responding to Defendants’ motions, Plaintiff
abandoned his Fourteenth Amendment claims against Knoebel and Snelling (Count III),
his Monell claims against Clark County and Clark County Sheriff (Count IV), and all of
his state law claims (Counts V–VIII). See Dkt. 45 at 2. We, therefore, GRANT
Defendants’ Motion [Docket No. 35] with regard to those claims. 2 What remains are
Hendrick’s Fourth Amendment claims against Defendants Knoebel and Snelling (Counts
I & II). Defendants’ motion for summary judgment became fully briefed on November
30, 2016 and is now ripe for decision.
The purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and to assess the
proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
The parties have stipulated to a partial dismissal of Defendants Clark County, Clark County Sheriff,
John and Jane Does 1–5 [dkt. 49], which we approved on February 21, 2017 [dkt. 50], rendering
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment with regard to Defendants Clark County, Clark County
Sheriff, and John and Jane Does 1–5 [dkt. 37] MOOT.
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v.
Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489–90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for
summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante v.
DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
“However, inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not
defeat a summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th
Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, “[a] party who bears the
burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively
demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact
that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). “The opposing party
cannot meet this burden with conclusory statements or speculation but only with
appropriate citations to relevant admissible evidence.” Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900 F.
Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).
“In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of
evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper
trial on the merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir.
2001) (citations and quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence of some
alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt
as to the material facts is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Grp., Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and
quotation marks omitted).
Defendants Knoebel and Snelling raise two challenges to Plaintiff’s Fourth
Amendment claims against them. First, they contend that his claims are barred by a
release provision contained in the DTC Agreement signed by Hendrick upon his entry
into the DTC Program. Second, they contend that, even if the release did not bar
Hendrick’s claims against them, they are nonetheless entitled to immunity from suit.
Because we find that Defendants are entitled to immunity from suit on Plaintiff’s Fourth
Amendment claims, we begin and end our analysis with that argument.
Though we need not rule on Defendants’ argument concerning the waiver provision in the DTC
Agreement, we note our serious doubts as to its enforceability under Indiana contract law, given the
conspicuous lack of parity between the parties, the absence of specificity in the provision’s language, the
fact that it purports to absolve the DTC’s employees of liability for intentionally tortious conduct, and the
fact that the DTC Program is an entity of the local government performing a public service. See generally
LaFrenz v. Lake Cty. Fair Bd., 360 N.E.2d 605, 608 (Ind. Ct. App. 1977). Moreover, because the
provision implicates federal common law by purporting to waive federal statutory and constitutional
rights, the likelihood of its enforceability is increasingly remote. Federal courts are rightly skeptical,
albeit not uniformly dismissive, of claims that a plaintiff has waived his constitutional rights or has
released a defendant from liability for violating them. We “indulge every reasonable presumption against
waiver of fundamental constitutional rights,” Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 464 (1938); Bayo v.
Napolitano, 593 F.3d 495, 503 (7th Cir. 2010), and we acquiesce in a waiver only if it has been
“knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.” Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 484 (2007). The lack of
specific language in the agreement before us, in conjunction with its prospectivity, not only falls short of
eliciting “an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege,” Patterson v.
Illinois, 487 U.S. 285, 292–93 (1988), but also encourages DTC staffers to violate the DTC participants’
constitutional rights, knowing they are acting with impunity. Enforcing such an agreement is inconsistent
with the public interest given its potential for abuse and cancellation of the participants’ primary means of
We begin our analysis with a discussion of the parameters of Plaintiff’s Fourth
Amendment claims. As noted previously, Plaintiff has abandoned his Fourteenth
Amendment due process claims against Knoebel and Snelling (Count III) as well as his
Monell claims against Clark County and Clark County Sheriff (Count IV) in response to
Defendants’ motions for summary judgment, leaving only his Fourth Amendment claims
against Knoebel and Snelling (Counts I & II) for review.
Count I of Plaintiff’s Complaint, (“Violation of the Fourth Amendment –
Unreasonable Seizure Brought Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Against Knoebel and
Snelling”), contains the following allegations:
38. At all times relevant to this action, Knoebel and Snelling
had no powers of arrest, and were not deputized or sworn law
39. Under the circumstances described herein, on September
23, 2014, Knoebel and Snelling had a duty to not unreasonably
or illegally seize Hendrick.
40. In committing the acts described in the preceding
paragraphs, Knoebel and Snelling committed an unreasonable
and illegal seizure during their encounter with Hendrick.
Dkt. 1 at ¶¶ 38–40 (emphasis added).
Count II of the Complaint, (“Violation of the Fourth Amendment – Unlawful
Arrest Brought Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Against Knoebel and Snelling”), contains
48. Under the circumstances described herein, Knoebel and
Snelling had a duty to not unlawfully arrest Hendrick.
49. In committing the acts described in the preceding
paragraphs, Knoebel and Snelling exceeded the limits of an
investigatory stop made pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1
50. Instead, in committing the highly intrusive actions
described herein, including, but not limited to, the handcuffing
and the lengthy detention of Hendrick, the actions of Knoebel
and Snelling rose to the level of an arrest of Hendrick, for
which probable cause did not exist, and only a wrongfullyobtained warrant existed, and which was therefore unlawful.
Id. at ¶¶ 48–50 (emphasis added).
Plaintiff’s allegations contained in Counts I & II fail to identify the specific
conduct or actions allegedly committed by Defendants Knoebel and Snelling that
Plaintiff believes violated his Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable
seizures. Plaintiff’s responsive briefing is equally vague, including only a general
reference to “the disputed and uncontested facts of this encounter” as “mak[ing] out
deprivations of Hendrick’s right under the Fourth Amendment, including, in particular
his right not to be wrongfully seized or falsely arrested.” Pl.’s Resp. at 18.
We highlight this ambiguity in light of Defendants’ argument that they are entitled
to judicial or quasi-judicial immunity for their roles in the issuance of the arrest warrant.
It is true that a Fourth Amendment suit can be brought against an officer who knowingly
or intentionally submits an arrest warrant application containing a false statement or
material omission, see Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 155–56 (1978), but we do not
interpret Counts I & II of Plaintiff’s Complaint to embrace such a claim. 4 We interpret
Plaintiff’s claim against Defendant Snelling as a violation of his Fourth Amendment
rights when he effectuated an arrest without legal authority to do so and without probable
cause. Plaintiff’s claim against Defendant Knoebel is based on her failure to intervene to
prevent this unconstitutional arrest.
According to Plaintiff’s testimony, shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Monday, September
23, 2013, Defendants Susan Knoebel and Jeremy Snelling arrived at Rocky’s Sub Pub
Restaurant, in New Albany, Indiana. They entered through the front door of the restaurant
and proceeded directly towards him. Recognizing Snelling as the DTC bailiff, Hendrick
greeted him, saying “Hey, Jeremy.” Hendrick Decl. at ¶ 10. Snelling allegedly responded
with, “Hi Coty. Can you put your hands behind your back for me?” Id. Complying with
Snelling’s directive, Hendrick placed his arms behind his back, and he was handcuffed,
escorted to and placed in the back seat of the Defendants’ county-owned vehicle, and
driven to the Clark County Jail. Id.
Defendants do not dispute this account for purposes of this motion and concede
Snelling’s actions constituted an arrest or seizure under the Fourth Amendment. See
United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554 (1980) (“[A] person has been ‘seized’
within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment ... if, in view of all of the circumstances
surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to
Indeed, Plaintiff does not cite to Franks or its progeny in his briefing, opting instead to focus on
Defendants’ post-hearing conduct.
leave.”); e.g., Brokaw v. Mercer Cty., 235 F.3d 1000, 1010 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding that a
Fourth Amendment ‘seizure’ occurred where a plaintiff was “physically carried out of his
home, placed in a car, and driven away from his family.”). Defendants also concede that,
as a courtroom bailiff and DTC employee, Jeremy Snelling’s powers of arrest were
limited to the Clark County Courthouse. Defendants argue, however, that they are entitled
to summary judgment because their actions were protected by both absolute and qualified
I. Absolute Immunity
Citing the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Henry v. Farmer City State Bank, 808
F.2d 1228 (7th Cir. 1986), Defendants contend that their actions were cloaked in absolute
quasi-judicial immunity because they were undertaken in response to a directive from
In Henry, the Seventh Circuit held that “police officers, sheriffs, and other court
officers who act in reliance on a facially valid court order are entitled to quasi-judicial
immunity from suit under § 1983 for damages.” Id. at 1239. The Henry court reasoned
that the true source of the plaintiff’s injury in such situations is not the officials’
performance of the “ministerial act” of enforcement, but rather is the judge’s order itself,
and a suit against the enforcing officers is an inappropriate vehicle for challenging the
validity of a court’s order. Id.
Here, Defendants maintain that following the ex parte hearing concerning
Hendrick’s DTC rules violations, both Snelling and Knoebel walked with Judge Jacobi
from the courtroom to his chambers and that at some point along the way, Judge Jacobi
instructed them to locate Hendrick and take him to the Clark County Jail. Knoebel Decl.
at ¶ 23; Snelling Decl. at ¶ 15. Based on their prior experience, Knoebel and Snelling
understood Judge Jacobi’s instruction to be that they should locate Hendrick and give
him the option of being escorted by them to jail or, alternatively, to be arrested by local
law enforcement officers. 5 Id. Defendant Snelling maintains that he did just that: he
located Hendrick at Rocky’s Sub Pub and gave him the option of being escorted to jail or
waiting to be arrested by the Jeffersonville Police. Snelling Decl. at ¶ 18. Snelling further
alleges that Hendrick responded, saying he did not want to be arrested by the
Jeffersonville Police and, without further prompting, Hendrick voluntarily turned around
and placed his hands behind his back. Id. Acting “[p]ursuant to procedures applicable to
probation officers,” Snelling placed Hendrick in handcuffs and escorted him in the
county-owned vehicle to the Clark County Jail. Id. at ¶ 15. 6 According to Defendants, all
of these actions taken by them were pursuant to Judge Jacobi’s “explicit instruction” and
therefore are protected by quasi-judicial immunity under the Seventh Circuit’s holding in
Henry, 808 F.2d 1228. See Defs.’ Mem. at 28.
Not surprisingly, Knoebel and Snelling both recount that every DTC participant to whom they ever
presented this ultimatum opted to be “escorted” by the DTC staff as opposed to waiting for local police
officers to effect their arrest.
Knoebel maintains that she was not present for this exchange since she went immediately to locate the
restaurant manager to inform him of Hendrick’s situation. She states that Hendrick was already in
handcuffs by the time she finished speaking with the manager. Knoebel Decl. at ¶ 26.
We note at the outset that the Seventh Circuit has expressly limited the
application of Henry quasi-judicial immunity to the enforcement of valid court orders.
See Zoretic v. Darge, 832 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir. 2016), reh'g denied (Sept. 2, 2016)
(“where officers are not acting pursuant to an enforceable order, they cannot receive
quasi-judicial immunity.”) citing Dunn v. City of Elgin, 347 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2003).
This does not require officers to undertake a legal analysis of a court’s order prior to
enforcing it, but it does required that, at a minimum, they “look for some indicia of
authority…before enforcing an order.” Dunn, 347 F.3d at 648. “The officers’ failure to
perform even this minimal step to ensure that they had judicial authority  means that
they cannot [later] claim quasi-judicial immunity.” Id.
We know of no authority permitting Defendants to rely on Judge Jacobi’s
instructions, which were purportedly issued orally and informally while the three of them
walked down the hallway of the courthouse. Such an order does not bear the indicia of
being a valid and enforceable order capable of conferring absolute immunity. Indeed, the
Seventh Circuit recently made clear it has “never” held that informal or indirect
instructions from a court to an officer confers such immunity. Schneider v. Cty. of Will,
Ill., 528 F. App'x 590, 593 (7th Cir. 2013) (collecting cases). This limitation makes sense
in light of the primary purpose of quasi-judicial immunity, namely, to encourage
claimants to challenge court orders directly on appeal as opposed to waging collateral
attacks through suits against the enforcing officers. This goal cannot be achieved with
regard to off-the-record instructions orally delivered in the back hallways of the
courthouse. See Richman v. Sheahan, 270 F.3d 430, 437 (7th Cir. 2001) (“extension of
absolute immunity [to law enforcement officers] is not primarily to protect the
enforcement function performed by the deputies, but rather to protect the judicial
decision-making function by discouraging collateral attacks and encouraging appeals.”).
Notwithstanding the suspect nature of Judge Jacobi’s “order,” Plaintiff has raised
no objection to its enforceability. Instead, Plaintiff’s challenge to Defendants’ claim of
quasi-judicial immunity is based on Defendants’ failure to strictly follow Judge Jacobi’s
instructions. Hendrick maintains that neither Snelling nor Knoebel ever offered him the
option of declining their invitation to be “escorted” to jail, thereby ensuring his arrest by
the Jeffersonville Police Officers. Plaintiff’s complaint, therefore, is not with Judge
Jacobi’s “order” at all; it is over the manner in which that order was enforced. As such,
Plaintiff’s challenge invokes a second, separate limitation under the Henry-based quasijudicial immunity. As the Seventh Circuit has explained:
[F]or court personnel and adjuncts who do not exercise a
discretionary function comparable to a judge's, the justification
for extending absolute immunity is most compelling when the
lawsuit challenges conduct specifically directed by the judge,
and not simply the manner in which the judge's directive was
The policies articulated in our quasi-judicial immunity cases
have less force when, as in this case, the challenged conduct is
the manner in which the judge's order is carried out, and not
conduct specifically directed by a judge.
The claim for damages in [such a] case is not therefore a
collateral attack on the judge's order…and an appeal of the
judge's order would provide no remedy. Similarly, the
[Defendants] are not being called upon to answer for
wrongdoing directed by the judge, but instead for their own
conduct. And that conduct—the manner in which they
enforced the judge's order—implicates an executive, not
Richman, 270 F.3d at 437–38.
Thus, Plaintiff’s challenge to Defendants’ claim of quasi-judicial immunity turns
on a question of fact: in arresting Hendrick, did Defendants abide by Judge Jacobi’s
instructions? While the parties do not dispute those instructions or Defendants’
understanding of them, they do maintain contradictory accounts of their “encounter” at
Rocky’s Sub Pub. Their disagreement creates a material dispute of fact which precludes
summary judgment on the issue of quasi-judicial immunity. A jury would need to resolve
this factual issue before a determination of absolute immunity could be made.
II. Qualified Immunity
Even in the absence of absolute immunity, government officials are entitled to
immunity from suit in the form of qualified immunity for conduct performed by them
which comes within the scope of their official duties. Richman, 270 F.3d at 434 (“The
ordinary rule is that qualified—and not absolute—immunity is sufficient to protect law
enforcement officers in the conduct of their official duties.”).
The distinction between absolute and qualified immunity is that the former shields
from liability even knowingly unlawful or plainly incompetent acts, whereas the latter
covers only “conduct that ‘does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person would have known.’” Bianchi v. McQueen, 818 F.3d
309, 316–17 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)).
Courts face two primary questions when a defendant invokes the defense of qualified
immunity: (1) did the plaintiff suffer a deprivation of a constitutional right, and (2) was
that right clearly established at the time and under the circumstances presented by the
case at hand? Id. If the answer to either questions is no, Defendants are entitled to
qualified immunity and summary judgment must enter in their favor. District courts are
authorized to determine the order in which they resolve these questions; in some cases, it
may be prudent to determine whether the constitutional right was clearly established at
the time of the officers’ conduct before plowing new ground by addressing a previously
unsettled constitutional issue. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236–242 (2009). Such
is the case here.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Knoebel’s and Snelling’s actions violated his
Fourth Amendment rights. Pls.’ Resp. at 18. The Fourth Amendment, as incorporated by
the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated,…” U.S. Const., amend. IV. Whether an arresting officer’s conduct violated
the Fourth Amendment as an unlawful search or seizure turns on whether the search or
seizure was reasonable. Dunn v. City of Elgin, Ill., 347 F.3d 641, 648 (7th Cir. 2003).
Defendants concede for purposes of this motion that Snelling’s conduct effected a seizure
of Hendrick, see Brokaw, supra. However, because it was not clearly established as of
September 2013 that this seizure of Hendrick was or would be deemed a constitutionally
unreasonable act, they are entitled to qualified immunity protection.
Once a defense of qualified immunity is raised, the burden falls on Plaintiff to
establish that his rights were, in fact, clearly established at the time he was arrested. To
carry this burden, he must “show either a reasonably analogous case that has both
articulated the right at issue and applied it to a factual circumstance similar to the one at
hand or that the violation was so obvious that a reasonable person necessarily would have
recognized it as a violation of the law.” Canen v. Chapman, 847 F.3d 407, 412 (7th Cir.
2017) (quoting Chan v. Wodnicki, 123 F.3d 1005, 1008 (7th Cir. 1997)).
Hendrick’s efforts and arguments fall well short of this mark. Initially, he argues
that “[t]he right to be free from false arrest was well-established in 2013,” citing a
number of Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit cases in support of this broad and largely
uncontroverted proposition. See Pl.’s Resp. at 18. However, the Supreme Court has
repeatedly stressed that for purposes of qualified immunity, the right at issue must be
articulated at a meaningful level of particularity. White v. Pauly, ––– U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct.
548, 551–52 (2017) (collecting cases). Hendrick’s showing must extend beyond the
invocation of a general constitutional right, and show that, properly narrowed and
articulated, it was a clearly established right at the time of his arrest. See Anderson v.
Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 639–40 (1987). While he need not necessarily point to a
decision that is “on all fours” with the facts and issues presented here, there must be some
settled legal authority that would inform Defendants regarding the illegality of their
actions. See Mullenix v. Luna, ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015).
Plaintiff has sidestepped any such controlling legal authorities, attempting instead
to distinguish the case on which Defendants have relied to establish that their seizure of
him was constitutional.
Defendants cite to the holding in Pasiewicz v. Lake Cty. Forest Pres. Dist., 270
F.3d 520, 526 (7th Cir. 2001) as support for the constitutionality of the seizure of
Hendrick, even if it occurred without any legal authority. In Pasiewicz the Seventh
Circuit ruled that a forest preserve police officer who made an arrest based on probable
cause did not act unreasonably or in violation of the Fourth Amendment simply because
the arrest was made outside the forest territory and may have exceeded his jurisdiction
under state law. 270 F.3d at 527 (“the officers did not act unreasonably under the Fourth
Amendment, even assuming that they acted outside their jurisdiction.”). Similar to the
forest preserve officer in Pasiewicz, Defendants maintain that Snelling’s arrest of
Hendrick may have exceeded his state-granted territorial jurisdiction, which, as a bailiff,
was limited to the courtroom, but that his actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment
because they were not otherwise unreasonable.
We incorporate Plaintiff’s response to this argument, in its entirety, as follows:
Defendants rely upon Pasiewicz v. Lake Cty. Forest Pres.
Dist., 270 F.3d 520, 526 (7th Cir. 2001), for the proposition
that an arrest by officers outside their jurisdiction does not per
se amount to a violation of the federal Constitution. (Dkt.36,
p.29) But Pasiewicz was subsequently limited by Dunn v. City
of Elgin, Ill., 347 F.3d 541 (7th Cir. 2003), which noted that it
was unclear whether a statutory violation even occurred,
because the park ranger defendants therein had authority to
make arrests “in aid of the regular police force.” Dunn, 347
F.3d at 649. Dunn also noted that, even if the park rangers had
no authority, the factual context of the seizure is more
important. Dunn, 347 F.3d at 649. “Different factual scenarios
will weigh differently ‘on the scales of reasonableness.’” Id.
Here, on the facts most favorable to the Plaintiff, Defendants
acted unreasonably by violating the understanding and
instructions of Judge Jacobi—and not just the fact they were
operating beyond their authority. They refused to accept
contact information from Westmoreland and Doss; they failed
to call Hendrick in on the hotline message on Monday
morning; were clearly aggravated by their (mis)perceptions of
Hendrick’s behavior; and Knoebel failed to inform the Court
of the foregoing when seeking a warrant. Perhaps in part due
to their frustrations, they acted unreasonably when they seized
and arrested Hendrick. See also Malone v. County of Suffolk,
968 F.2d 1480 (2nd Cir. 1992) (whether having valid authority
to arrest pursuant to state law affects the constitutionality of the
arrest); Ross v. Neff, 905 F.2d 1349 (10th Cir. 1990)
(warrantless arrest executed outside of the arresting officer’s
jurisdiction is analogous to a warrantless arrest without
‘probable cause’ which is ‘presumptively unreasonable’); and
United States v. Foster, 566 F. Supp. 1403 (D.D.C. 1983)
(“[t]he concept of reasonableness embodied in the Fourth
Amendment logically presupposes an exercise of lawful
authority by a police officer. When a law enforcement officer
acts beyond his or her jurisdiction, the resulting deprivation of
liberty is just as unreasonable as an arrest without probable
Pl.’s Resp. at 20.
Plaintiff’s response consists of a hodge-podge of factual “what ifs” and a
confusing legal analysis. To the extent Plaintiff interprets the holding in Pasiewicz to turn
on whether the officer in question might arguably have had authority under state law to
make the arrest at issue, we do not read it thus. Pasiewicz has consistently been
interpreted for the holding that, even when an officer acts outside of his legal authority,
his action is not necessarily unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. See Dunn, 347
F.3d at 649. Even so, we agree with Plaintiff that the Seventh Circuit distinguished its
holding in Pasiewicz in Dunn v. City of Elgin, Ill., 347 F.3d 641, 648–49 (7th Cir. 2003),
which we explain hereafter.
In Dunn, the Seventh Circuit held that it was objectively unreasonable for Illinois
police officers to seize a fifteen-month-old child in Illinois based on a North Carolina
custody order, where the officers who had been dispatched by their superior
acknowledged that they did not have authority to enforce the order, given that they were
authorized only to perform “peacekeeping standby service.” 347 F.3d at 648. In
distinguishing Pasiewicz, the Seventh Circuit noted that the officers’ enforcement of an
out-of-state order implicated federalism in ways that the Pasiewicz case did not. More
importantly, the seizure in Dunn involved taking the infant based solely on an
unenforceable out-of-state order which contravened the “peacekeeping” instructions they
had received, whereas “the officers [in Pasiewicz] arrested an adult on a public indecency
charge, knowing that any restraint was likely to be short and that the seized person would
have the chance to defend himself in court.” Dunn, 347 F.3d at 649.
While the results of the Pasiewicz and Dunn analyses diverge, the reasoning
underlying those decisions aligns nicely. In Pasiewicz, the Seventh Circuit made clear
that, under the Fourth Amendment, the overall objective reasonableness of the arresting
officer’s conduct must be analyzed, given that “an officer can act incorrectly with regard
to his jurisdiction just as he can act incorrectly with regard to any other factor involved in
the exercise of his authority.” 270 F.3d at 527. The factual context of the seizure,
including the fact that the officer was acting outside of his jurisdiction, must be taken into
account in its entirety when determining the reasonableness of the officers’ conduct.
Nevertheless, Plaintiff’s briefing problem remains: he has failed to identify any
“reasonably analogous case that has both articulated the right at issue and applied it to a
factual circumstance similar to the one at hand or [to show] that the violation was so
obvious that a reasonable person necessarily would have recognized it as a violation of
the law.” Canen v. Chapman, 847 F.3d 407, 412 (7th Cir. 2017). Indeed, even in Dunn,
where the Seventh Circuit found the officers’ conduct to be objectively unreasonable, the
officers were nonetheless entitled to qualified immunity because the plaintiff failed to
point to a case where the enforcement of an out-of-state custody order that occurred in
violation of a state statute amounted to a constitutional violation. Dunn, 347 F.3d at 650–
Because Plaintiff has been unable to show that as of September 2013 it was clearly
established that an extraterritorial seizure conducted by a bailiff following the court’s
issuance of an arrest warrant could violate the Fourth Amendment, Defendants Snelling
and Knoebel are entitled to qualified immunity on that claim against them.
We pause to note that our ruling should not be construed as support for the
constitutionality of Snelling’s and Knoebel’s conduct under the Fourth Amendment; that
presents a much closer and more difficult issue. Particularly troubling is the fact that both
Snelling and Knoebel admit that they knew they lacked the power to arrest DTC
participants in the community, yet, notwithstanding that knowledge, they proceeded to
place Hendrick in handcuffs and take him into custody based solely on the out-of-court
instructions of Judge Jacobi. The Seventh Circuit stated in Pasiewicz that the “case might
arguably be viewed differently if [the defendants] knew they lacked jurisdiction…Such a
blatant disregard of state law and the chain of command could weigh on the scales of
reasonableness.” 270 F.3d 527. Whether Defendants’ knowledge that they lacked the
legal power to make the arrest of Hendrick would tip the scales of reasonableness in his
favor, we cannot say; we can only hold, as we have, that these facts fall short of “clearly
The string citation included at the end Plaintiff’s argument does little to strengthen his case, particularly
in light of the Seventh Circuit’s explicit reference in both Pasiewciz and Dunn to the circuit split that has
been created by these holdings. See Pasiewicz, 270 F.3d at 526 n.3; Dunn, 347 F.3d 650–51.
establishing” that their conduct was violative of Hendrick’s Fourth Amendment rights.
“For a right to be clearly established for purposes of qualified immunity, ‘existing
precedent must have placed the statutory or constitutional question beyond debate.’”
Canen, 847 F.3d at 412 (citing Reichle v. Howards, 566 U.S. 658 (2012)). Without
Plaintiff’s citation to any existing precedent which places beyond debate the questions
presented by this case, we are relieved of the obligation to engage in an “essentially
academic exercise” focusing on whether Defendants’ reliance on Judge Jacobi’s
instructions and the court-issued arrest warrant outweighed their knowledge that
Snelling’s arrest powers were limited to the courtroom so as to render his conduct (and
Knoebel’s failure to intervene) objectively unreasonable, in violation of the Fourth
Amendment. Pearson, 555 U.S. at 237. Our ruling here is limited to the immunity issues.
Fourth Amendment claims almost always are fact dependent. Because Defendants’
factual assertions regarding the scope of Snelling’s arrest jurisdiction and Snelling’s and
Knoebel’s action in serving the court-issued arrest warrant when they seized Hendrick
were neither challenged nor otherwise addressed by Plaintiff, we regarded them as
undisputed facts for the purposes of ruling on the pending motion. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants Jeremy Snelling and Susan Knoebel are
entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff’s claims against them under the Fourth
Amendment. Accordingly, we GRANT Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment
[Docket No. 35] as to Counts I and II of Plaintiff’s Complaint. All claims have now been
resolved, final Judgment shall enter accordingly.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
R. Jeffrey Lowe
KIGHTLINGER & GRAY, LLP-New Albany
Mark W. Sniderman
SNIDERMAN NGUYEN LLP
James S. Stephenson
STEPHENSON MOROW & SEMLER
Rosemary L. Borek
STEPHENSON MOROW & SEMLER
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