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Collier v. Haywood County

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

April 17, 2015



JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On December 2, 2014, the Plaintiff, Ray Charles Collier, a pretrial detainee at the Haywood County Jail ("Jail") in Brownsville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, accompanied by a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) In an order issued on December 4, 2014, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Haywood County, Tennessee State Trooper Todd Yelverton, and S.A. Jundi, an officer at the West Tennessee Detention Facility in Mason, Tennessee.[1]

On February 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum to assure his presence at a hearing in this matter. (ECF No. 6.) Because a hearing will not be necessary for the reasons stated below, the motion is DENIED.

On March 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed another § 1983 complaint form addressing the incidents at issue in this case, which was docketed as Collier v. Gibson, No. 15-1050-JDT-egb (W.D. Tenn.). In an order issued on March 10, 2015, the Court directed the Clerk to close case number 15-1050 and docket that complaint as an amended complaint in the present case, number 14-1324. (ECF No. 8.)[2] The amended complaint names, as an additional Defendant, Assistant Public Defender Rachele Gibson. (ECF No. 9 at 2.)

The complaint alleges that, on August 24, 2014, Defendant Jundi pulled Plaintiff over as he was driving westbound on Interstate 40. Defendant Yelverton arrived on the scene after the initiation of the traffic stop and issued a ticket to Plaintiff. Because Yelverton never observed Plaintiff driving the vehicle, Plaintiff alleges he was not authorized to write a ticket. The ticket includes a sworn oath by the issuing officer, and Plaintiff contends Yelverton was unable to swear to the truth of the matters contained in the ticket. Plaintiff also complains that his company vehicle containing work and personal belongings was taken from him although he had not been convicted of a crime. He alleges that "[t]his is in violation of illegal search and seizure laws. I have not been found guilty of any crime." (ECF No. 1-1 at 1.)

The complaint further alleges that

[t]he judge was in error in setting my bail at $50, 000 and that was excessive for a 3rd or 4th offense D.U.I. In order for the State to enhance my D.U.I. to a fourth offense they must have a certified copy of my driving record from the state that they intend to use the D.U.I. from. The state must also have the advisement in writing of the penalty for another conviction for D.U.I. from the Judge who sentenced me. They didn't present any of this at my preliminary hearing. A bond of $50, 000 dollars is excessive and it was intended to keep me in jail in hopes of me plea bargaining my case.

( Id. )

No preliminary hearing was held until 87 days after Plaintiff's arrest, allegedly in violation of his right to due process. When 64 days had passed since his arrest, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied. The complaint alleges that the denial of Plaintiff's motion violated his right to due process. In addition, at the preliminary hearing, Plaintiff was not allowed to cross-examine Defendant Jundi. Instead, the State presented only the testimony of Defendant Yelverton. Plaintiff contends that the judge should have dismissed the charge rather than binding the matter over to the grand jury. Plaintiff raised an objection with the judge, who threatened not to have the preliminary hearing for another two months. Plaintiff stated on the record that he was proceeding with his preliminary hearing under duress. ( Id. at 1-2.)

Plaintiff complains that he was sent to prison without have been found guilty of a crime and that he is housed with convicted inmates. He allegedly has been attacked by convicted inmates on two occasions. On one such occasion, one of Plaintiff's teeth was knocked loose, and he had to go to the dentist to get it pulled. He was not given any pain medication other than an over-the-counter product. The inmate who attacked Plaintiff was taken to solitary confinement. Plaintiff was removed from the pod but he was returned an hour later. Subsequently, a state prisoner hit Plaintiff in the eye, causing it to swell shut. According to Plaintiff, "[t]here was nothing done about it." ( Id. at 2.) Plaintiff alleges he is in constant fear for his life, in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. He has written grievances asking to be moved to a pod that does not house convicted inmates. Captain Fisher, who is not a party to this action, responded that Plaintiff would not be moved and that he should consult his lawyer. ( Id. )

Plaintiff seeks an order dismissing his pending charges of driving on a revoked license and driving under the influence and directing that he be immediately released. Plaintiff also seeks money damages and the return of his vehicle and belongings. (ECF No. 1 at 3.)

In his amended complaint, Plaintiff contends that his defense attorney, Defendant Gibson,

is conspiring under the color of law, to help the District Attorney to convict me. She did not file any of the motions that I asked her to file. She asked the Judge to give me a mental evaluation seven days before my trial in order to delay my trial. She has given the District Attorney information that I told her. My speedy trial has not been honored because she is working with the District Attorney. I been in Jail over (180) days trying to go to trial.

(ECF No. 9 at 2.) The prayer for relief asks that Defendant Gibson be removed from Plaintiff's case immediately. He also seeks money damages. ( Id. at 3.)

The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion ...

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