450 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2006), 04-55553, Hart v. Parks

Docket Nº:04-55553, 04-55555.
Citation:450 F.3d 1059
Party Name:Anthony K. HART, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Bernard PARKS, Chief of Police; Marc Zavala; Robert Rivera; Daryl McLemore, Defendants-Appellees. Anthony K. Hart, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Bernard Parks, Chief of Police; David Kalish; Marc Zavala; Robert Rivera; Manny Avila; Ron Sanchez; Robert Rehme; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; James D. St
Case Date:June 19, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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450 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2006)

Anthony K. HART, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Bernard PARKS, Chief of Police; Marc Zavala; Robert Rivera; Daryl McLemore, Defendants-Appellees.

Anthony K. Hart, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Bernard Parks, Chief of Police; David Kalish; Marc Zavala; Robert Rivera; Manny Avila; Ron Sanchez; Robert Rehme; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; James D. Staley; Bruce E. Davis, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 04-55553, 04-55555.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

June 19, 2006

Argued and Submitted April 5, 2006.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Stephen Yagman, Yagman & Yagman & Reichman, Venice Beach, California, argued the cause for the appellant. Marion R. Yagman and Joseph Reichmann, Yagman & Yagman & Reichman, Venice Beach, California, were on the brief.

Bloth S. Back, Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles, California, argued the cause for the appellees. Rockard J. Delgadillo, City Attorney, and Janet Bogigian, Assistant City Attorney, Los Angeles, California, were on the brief.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, George H. King, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. Nos. CV-02-01332-GHK, CV-00-03675-GHK.

Before: Dorothy W. Nelson and Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, Circuit Judges, and Robert C. Jones, [*] District Judge.


O'SCANNLAIN, Circuit Judge.

We consider whether Los Angeles police officers violated an individual's constitutional rights by arresting him for his suspected role in the theft of Oscar statuettes to be presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Academy Awards night in March 2000.


Anthony Hart alleges various constitutional injuries arising from two arrests—in March 2000 and again in August 2000— for his suspected role in the theft of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Oscar statuettes.1 because the claims are numerous and the issues presented are even more numerous, the facts are set out in some detail.



On March 13, 2000, the Executive Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences suspected that the Oscar statuettes, which had recently been shipped from the manufacturer in Chicago, were missing and possibly stolen. Roadway Express Shipping ("Roadway") had been hired to deliver the trophies. The Academy contacted the Los Angeles Police Department ("LAPD"), which assigned detectives Marc Zavala and Robert Rivera, members of its Burglary Auto Theft Division, to investigate. Zavala had investigated cargo thefts for 10 years and Rivera

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had investigated cargo thefts for three years.

Zavala and Rivera began their investigation by interviewing Jon Gerloff, Roadway's security chief. Gerloff told the detectives that the Oscars had been "scanned off" at the Los Angeles Roadway facility—meaning that they had arrived in Los Angeles—but had not arrived at the Academy in Hollywood, the proper delivery address. After "exhaust[ing] every route and or scenario as to where the Oscars may have been (mistakenly) shipped," the detectives and Gerloff concluded that the Oscars had been stolen from the Los Angeles Roadway facility on March 8, at some time between 3:01 am and 8:00 am. Zavala and Rivera began interviewing potential witnesses. Rivera spoke with one employee who identified Anthony Hart as a "known thief" who had approached him hoping to steal Macy's merchandise shipped via Roadway. Zavala subsequently confirmed that a Macy's trailer had been recently stolen from the Roadway facility. Zavala spoke with a second man who stated that Hart was involved in the theft. When Zavala interviewed Hart, Hart only disclosed that he was a forklift driver for Roadway and gave his home address in La Puente. Hart refused to discuss the Oscar theft, explaining that he was "not a snitch."

After further discussions with Roadway employees, Zavala and Rivera concluded, in part on the basis of their combined experience investigating cargo theft, that the 500 pound wooden pallet containing the Oscars had likely been taken off the dock with a forklift. The detectives further concluded that the heist likely required at least two parties: a truck driver and a forklift operator.

The next day, Zavala and Rivera privately announced a $25,000 reward for information about the theft of the Oscar statuettes. The detectives disclosed the award only to Roadway dockworkers, and detective Rivera saw Hart in the crowd. The award announcement generated two significant leads. First, Gerloff informed Zavala and Rivera that Roadway received an anonymous call stating that Hart was involved in the theft of the statuettes. Second, a Daniel Pearson called Roadway and left a message about the reward. Pearson stated that "an individual who wanted to turn in the Oscars and collect the twenty-five thousand-dollar reward had 'retained' him." When Pearson phoned Roadway, the award had not been made public. Suspecting his possible involvement in the theft or his association with those involved in the theft, LAPD officers conducted a surveillance of Pearson. Officers saw Pearson drive from his law offices to Hart's residence in La Puente.

On March 17, Zavala and Rivera met again with the Roadway dockworkers—including Hart—and informed them that the reward had increased to $50,000. As happened after announcing the first award, Gerloff reported receiving another anonymous phone call—from a different source—who also stated that Hart was involved in the Oscar theft. Similarly, within 30 minutes of offering the increased reward, Pearson again called Zavala seeking the $50,000 reward. According to Zavala,

Pearson called me and told me that "they" have the stuff. Pearson wanted my assurance that nothing is going to happen to "them" and that "they" would in fact get paid the reward money. Pearson also told me he heard from his client the reward money was now fifty thousand dollars and they expected to be paid that amount.

Pearson requested that a copy of the reward information be faxed to his office and stated that in exchange he would deliver

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the Oscars to an undisclosed location. As with the $25,000 offer, only Roadway employees knew of the $50,000 reward.

Based on the timing of Pearson's phone calls, the detectives inferred that Pearson was in contact with a Roadway employee. Because Pearson had recently driven to Hart's home, the detectives concluded that Pearson and Hart knew each other and that Hart had called Pearson about the $50,000 reward after the detectives announced it.

In addition to the two phone calls Gerloff received, Zavala also received an anonymous phone call on March 18. The anonymous caller told Zavala that he had been working at Roadway on March 8; that he had personally seen Hart steal the pallet containing the Oscar statuettes; and that Hart had placed the pallet inside a trailer driven by a "Lawrence / Larry." The caller told Zavala that Hart and Larry had worked together on the theft.

Zavala and Rivera attempted to corroborate the information in the anonymous tip. They examined Roadway's timesheets and confirmed that both Hart and a truck driver named "Larry" Ledent were working on the morning of the theft. Further, the heist as described fit with the detectives' theory that any theft would require at least two participants: a forklift operator and a truck driver. Based on the detectives' experience, they believed that a Teamster would not "rat" on a fellow employee. Therefore, the detectives surmised that the tipster remained anonymous because he was a Teamster, and therefore likely a Roadway employee.2

On March 18, Zavala also learned that both Ledent and Hart had prior arrests and convictions for theft. Later the same day, Zavala and Rivera went to Hart's residence in La Puente and questioned him outside his home. Zavala requested Hart's consent to search his home for the statuettes, but Hart refused. The detectives then informed Hart that he would be taken to LAPD headquarters for questioning. Before they departed the scene, Aubrey Hart, Anthony Hart's brother, arrived. After discovering that Aubrey had an outstanding narcotics warrant, the police arrested him and transported him—along with his brother Anthony—to police headquarters for further questioning.

After Zavala and Rivera detained Anthony Hart, they discovered that Hart's sister was the wife of Daniel Pearson. (Hart and Pearson, therefore, were brothers-in-law.3) Also on March 18, but after Hart's arrest, two detectives went to Larry Ledent's home. Ledent was taken to police headquarters for questioning, and he confessed that he and Hart had stolen the Oscars. According to Ledent, on March 8, 2000, Hart placed the Oscars into Ledent's trailer and said " 'I got something in there for you.' " Ledent and Hart

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had apparently stolen other merchandise in the same manner on three occasions in the prior two months.


On March 20, 2000, the LAPD, Roadway, the Academy, and the City of Bell Police conducted a joint press conference to announce the recovery of the Oscars. Hart's name was mentioned only once during the press conference when then-LAPD Chief Bernard Parks stated that "two suspects have been arrested . . . for grand theft .... [We] arrested Mr. Anthony Keith Hart and Lawrence Edward Ladent [sic], both employees of Roadway Express."

On March 24, 2000, Roadway fired Hart for violating Roadway's policy against "dishonesty" by participating in the Oscar theft. Roadway's termination letter did not refer to or otherwise mention the press conference.


On March 21, 2000, three days after Hart's arrest, the detectives presented their arrest and investigation reports to the district attorney. The district...

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