Britton v. Southaven Police Department et al
JUDGMENT - Plaintiff's objections to Report and Recommendation are OVERRULED; Report and Recommendations APPROVED AND ADOPTED; all claims DISMISSED with prejudice EXCEPT claim of illegal search and seizure as to defendants Rushing, Caswell, and Clark. Marshall Fisher (Mississipi Department of Corrections), Robert R. Morris, III (Assistant District Attorney), Steve Pirtle (Chief of Police), Gerald W. Chatham, Sr (Circuit Court Judge) and City of Southaven terminated. Signed by District Judge Michael P. Mills on 1/31/17. (cr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
MEIKA DESEAN BRITTON
SOUTHAVEN POLICE DEPARTMENT
DETECTIVE BRENNON RUSHING
CHIEF OF POLICE STEVE PIRTLE
PROBATION OFFICER FRANK CASWELL
PROBATION OFFICER SUPERVISOR BONITA CLARK
CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE GERALD W. CHATHAM, SR.
ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY ROBERT R. MORRIS, III
COMMISSIONER MARSHALL FISHER
Having considered the file and records in this action, including the Report and
Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge and the objections to the Report and
Recommendation, the court finds that the plaintiff’s objections are without merit and that the
Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation should be approved and adopted as the opinion
of the court.
The court will directly address only two of the plaintiff’s objections to the Magistrate
Judge’s Report and Recommendation: his claim of municipal liability against the City of
Southaven and his equal protection claim. As the Magistrate Judge noted in discussing Britton’s
claim of municipal liability, the complaint alleged no facts showing the existence of a policy or
custom of the City or its policymakers which caused injury to the plaintiff, and Mr. Britton did not
provide any in his objections. In the absence of allegations involving such a policy or custom, the
complaint does not state a viable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and this claim will be dismissed
with prejudice. Wernecke v. Garcia, 591 F.3d 386, 401 (5th Cir. 2009).
In addition, as to his equal protections claim, the plaintiff’s pleadings did not contain
allegations that a defendant treated another, similarly situated, inmate more favorably than Britton.
As such, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the plaintiff’s equal protection allegations be
dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In his objection to the
Report and Recommendation, however, Mr. Britton argues that fellow inmate Jessie Tiddle was
similarly situated and received different treatment. Britton now alleges:
On the same day Britton went to his hearing a fellow inmate Jessie Tiddle was in court
with him on the same original charge as Britton and violated his post release
supervision with a failure to register [as a sex offender] charge. The results of his was
were completely different as the prosecutor dropped the revocation of probation as long
as Tiddle [pled] guilty to [the] new charge of failure to register [as a sex offender] . . . .
In the present case, Mr. Britton faced new charges of exploitation of a child by soliciting a minor to
depict sexual acts for the viewing of another person over a computer network. Britton had
previously been convicted of that same charge, but arising on an earlier occasion out of different
events. Indeed, he had only recently been released from incarceration after serving time on the
previous child exploitation charge when he was investigated for new instances of child
exploitation relevant to the present case.
The problem with Mr. Britton’s argument in his objections is that he and Tiddle were not
similarly situated. While Tiddle had failed to register as a sex offender, Britton faced new
charges of child exploitation – the precise crime that led to his incarceration in the first place.
Though both crimes are serious, exploitation of a child is far more serious than failure to register –
a significant fact that prevents the court from finding Britton and Tiddle to be similarly situated.
In addition, Britton has not alleged that: (1) facing new charges is less harsh than revocation of
probation on the old charges; and (2) that, given the opportunity, he would have pled guilty to the
new child exploitation charge, rather than accept revocation of his probation on the old charges.
It appears to the court that conviction on new charges would have been a worse outcome
than mere revocation of parole on the old one. A conviction on new felony charges would leave
Mr. Britton with two felony convictions – and, should he commit a felony in the future, expose him
to the harsh penalties under Mississippi’s habitual offender statute, Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-81
(as well as the habitual offender statutes in other states, nearly all of which operate as “three
strikes” laws). For that reason, it appears that the example Mr. Britton provided, the plea of guilty
to a second offense, does not constitute more lenient treatment, and Britton’s claim regarding
denial of due process will be dismissed.
It is ORDERED:
That the plaintiff’s objections to the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendation are OVERRULED;
That the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge is
hereby APPROVED AND ADOPTED as the opinion of the court; and
That all of the claims and defendants in this case are DISMISSED with prejudice,
except the claim of illegal search and seizure as to defendants Detective Brennon Rushing,
Probation Office Frank Caswell, and Probation Supervisor Bonita Clark.
SO ORDERED, this, the 31st day of January, 2017.
/s/ MICHAEL P. MILLS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
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?