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Watson v. City of Memphis

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

June 19, 2018

KENDRICK DEJUAN WATSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MEMPHIS; WILLIAM ACRED, Detective; JONATHAN OVERLY, Detective; PAUL HAGGARMAN, States Attorney; ROBERT PARRISH, Defense Attorney; LEE V. COFFEE, Criminal Court Judge of the Thirtieth Judicial District, Division 7, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF APPELLATE FILING FEE

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On October 28, 2016, Plaintiff Kendrick Dejuan Watson (“Watson”), who at the time was a pre-trial detainee at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Complex in Memphis, Tennessee, filed pro se a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2). On November 21, 2016, the Court granted Watson 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. 6.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the City of Memphis, [1] Memphis Police Department (“MPD”) Detective William Acred, MDP Detective Jonathan Overly, States Attorney Paul Haggarman, Defense Attorney Robert Parrish, and Criminal Court Judge Lee V. Coffee of the Thirtieth Judicial District, Division 7.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 20, 2014, a grand jury in Shelby County, Tennessee, returned indictments against Watson in three separate cases. See http://jssi.shelbycountytn.gov. Indictment no. 14-00909 charged Watson with especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping. (Id.) Indictment no. 14-00910 charged Watson with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. (Id.) Indictment no. 14-00911 charged Watson with one count of conspiracy to unlawfully possess a controlled substance with the intent to sell marijuana, one count of conspiracy to unlawfully possess a controlled substance with the intent to sell cocaine, and one count of money laundering. (Id.) On July 26, 2017, Watson pled guilty to aggravated assault in No. 14-00909, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in No. 14-00910, and conspiring to unlawfully possess a controlled substance with the intent to sell marijuana in No. 14-00911. (Id.)

         In his Complaint, Watson alleges that in the course of their investigation into Watson's activities, both Defendants Det. Overly and Det. Acred used illegally gathered evidence in order to obtain a wiretap. (Compl. at 2, ECF No. 1.) According to Watson, on November 1, 2013, Defendant Det. Overly made an affidavit in support of an application for a wire tap. (Id.) Det. Overly's affidavit stated that he had received a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) from Orion Federal Credit Union. (Id.) Watson claims that his attorney was told that the SAR would be submitted to him first, and only after counsel was made aware of it would the SAR go to the FicCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). (Id. at 2-3.) The Complaint does not allege who gave Watson's attorney this assurance, though it appears it was the fraud prevention manager at the credit union. The Complaint goes on to allege that the fraud prevention manager at the credit union informed Watson's attorney that the credit union was prohibited by law from disclosing the existence of a SAR to MPD. (Id. at 3.) Watson alleges that Det. Overly's warrant affidavit cited the SAR as part of the warrant application but did not disclose to the judge that MPD was not supposed to possess or even know the SAR existed. (Id.)

         Watson further alleges that Det. Overly's affidavit falsely stated that Watson had texted a photo of Det. Acred's license plate to several of Watson's associates to avoid or interfere with the police surveillance. (Id.) Watson now contends that his girlfriend texted a picture and that the detectives could not have known this information without illegally monitoring Watson's phone. (Id. at 3-4.) As relief, Watson seeks compensatory damages from the City of Memphis. (Id. at 5).

         In his Amended Complaint, Watson alleges that Defendant Haggarman knew that MPD falsified information and used illegal information to obtain the wiretap and pursued the prosecution against Watson anyway. (Amended Compl. at 1, ECF No. 7.) According to Watson, Judge Coffee also knew that MPD had acted improperly; however, he allowed the case to proceed and denied Watson's motion to suppress. (Id.) Watson questions the effectiveness of Defendant Parrish's representation and alleges that he has filed a bar complaint against Parrish. (Id. at 1-2.)

         SCREENING STANDARD

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the Complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the Court applies the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) pleading standards announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 ...


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