Williams v. Troutt et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION: The Magistrate Judge recommends that this case be dismissed under the Heck doctrine, with prejudice, or alternatively, for failure to prosecute and keep the current address on file, and that any appeal from such dismissal not be certified as taken in good faith. Signed by Magistrate Judge Joe Brown on 6/22/2017. (xc:Pro se party by regular mail. ) (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(eh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
BRANDON S. WILLIAMS,
BRANDON TROUTT 331 OFFICER,
THE HONORABLE ALETA A. TRAUGER
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
recommends that this case be dismissed for failure to prosecute and
to obey Court orders. Alternatively, the case should be dismissed
for failure to state an offense in view of his criminal conviction
for the drugs found on his person when the Defendant Police Officer
stopped and searched the vehicle in which the Plaintiff was a
The Magistrate Judge further recommends that any appeal
from dismissal of this case not be certified as taken in good
On May 13, 2016, the Plaintiff filed a complaint against
the Gallatin Police Department and Officer Troutt (Docket Entry 1).
On an initial review (Docket Entry 4) the Court conducted an
initial review of the Plaintiff’s complaint. The initial review
The plaintiff claims that, on March 17, 2016, he was a
passenger in a car stopped by Officer Brandon Troutt of
the Gallatin Police Department. During the stop, Officer
Trout allegedly made the plaintiff get out of the car.
The plaintiff claims that he was searched three times by
Officer Troutt, who touched him in the area of his
genitals. The plaintiff claims that both the search and
his subsequent arrest were illegal.
From plaintiff’s allegations, it could be inferred that
the search of his person was unreasonable. It appears,
therefore, that the plaintiff has stated a colorable
claim for relief.
A scheduling order was entered in the matter on July 7,
2016 (Docket Entry 15). In that scheduling order the Plaintiff was
specifically warned that he must keep the Court informed of his
current address and that failure to do so could result in the
dismissal of his case for failure to prosecute and for failure to
comply with the Court’s orders.
The Plaintiff next filed an amended complaint (Docket
Entry 18) on July 18, 2016. In his amended complaint he dropped
claims against the Sheriff’s Department and complained only about
Officer’s Troutt’s search of his persons on March 17, 2016.
(Docket Entry 32) on the basis of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
(1971), until the State criminal charges against the Plaintiff were
concluded. In their memorandum in support of the motion (Docket
Entry 34) they noted that the Plaintiff had filed motions to
dismiss the criminal charges against him on the basis of an
unconstitutional search. The Defendant argued that it would be a
better practice to stay the federal claims pending the ruling in
the criminal case, citing numerous cases.
In particular, they noted that Heck v. Humphries, 512
U.S. 477 (1974) held that a federal civil rights suit must be
dismissed if a favorable ruling in the federal case would impinge
Plaintiff’s motion to suppress the drugs found on his person is
denied in the state criminal court, and the Plaintiff is convicted
on the criminal charges pending from the March 17th traffic stop,
then Officer Troutt would have had probable cause to remove the
Plaintiff from his vehicle and the search was proper. They further
pointed out that a favorable ruling in this civil case would impose
upon the state court’s conviction, and that is exactly what the
Heck doctrine prevents.
They also cite numerous cases holding that the doctrine
of collateral estoppel or res adjudicata may also prevent the
relitigation of issues in federal court that are litigated and
decided in the state criminal proceedings.
The motion was granted and the Clerk was directed to
administratively close the case subject to being reopened upon the
completion of the criminal case. Counsel for the Defendant was
directed to advise the Clerk of the results of the criminal case at
Subsequently, on May 8, 2017 (Docket Entry 38), the Court
was notified that Brandon Williams had entered a plea of guilty to
possession of Schedule 2 drugs for sale, resisting a stop, halt and
frisk, and two additional counts of possession of Schedule 2 drugs.
The Plaintiff received a total effective sentence of 20 years, at
30%, and all was suspended based on the time he had served awaiting
disposition of the case (Docket Entry 38-1).
Based on this notification, the Plaintiff was given 21
days to show cause why the Magistrate Judge should not recommend
the case be dismissed with prejudice in view of the state court
decision. The Plaintiff was cautioned that failure to respond would
result in such a recommendation (Docket Entry 39).
undeliverable (Docket Entry 40). It appears that the Plaintiff was
released from jail following his guilty plea on April 28, 2017, and
despite the Court’s previous warning, has failed to provide a new
mailing address or to further contact the Court.
As an initial matter, the Magistrate Judge believes that
the Plaintiff’s plea of guilty to the charges as related in Docket
Entry 38-1, requires his case to be dismissed with prejudice under
the Heck doctrine. For the Federal Court to find that the Plaintiff
was illegally searched would call into question the Plaintiff’s
conviction for resisting the search and for the possession with
intent to sell the drugs found on him.
Even if the Heck doctrine were not applicable, the
Plaintiff has still failed to provide the Court with a valid
address or to take further action involving his release from
A dismissal with or without prejudice is a drastic
remedy, and before the Court contemplates dismissing an action
under Rule 41(b), the Court must specifically consider:
(1) whether the party’s failure to cooperate is due to
willfulness, bad faith, or fault;
(2) whether the adversary was prejudiced by the dilatory
conduct of the party;
(3) whether the dismissed party was warned that failure
to cooperate could lead to dismissal; and
(4) whether the less drastic sanctions were imposed or
considered before dismissal was granted.
Tetro v. Elliott Popham Pontiac, 173 F.3d 988 (6th Cir. 1999).
The Plaintiff was warned at the onset of the case that
failure to keep a current address could jeopardize his prosecution
of the matter. In this case the Plaintiff has failed to provide the
Court with a current address and has failed to respond to Court
orders. His failure to do so appears willful and the Defendant can
certainly take no further action without a current address for the
Normally, the Magistrate Judge would recommend a lesser
sanction of dismissal without prejudice. However, given the holding
in Heck, the Magistrate Judge believes that the case should be
dismissed with prejudice.
recommends that this case be dismissed under the Heck doctrine,
with prejudice, or alternatively, for failure to prosecute and keep
dismissal not be certified as taken in good faith.
Under Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
Recommendation in which to file any written objections to this
Recommendation with the District Court. Any party opposing said
objections shall have 14 days from receipt of any objections filed
in this Report in which to file any responses to said objections.
Failure to file specific objections within 14 days of receipt of
this Report and Recommendation can constitute a waiver of further
appeal of this Recommendation. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 106 S.
Ct. 466, 88 L.Ed.2d 435 (1985), Reh’g denied, 474 U.S. 1111 (1986).
ENTER this 22nd day of June, 2017.
Joe B. Brown
JOE B. BROWN
United 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?