534 F.2d 1178 (5th Cir. 1976), 75-3882, Miller v. Jones

Docket Nº:75-3882.
Citation:534 F.2d 1178
Party Name:Warren C. MILLER, Jr., Petitioner-Appellee, v. Clarence JONES, Sheriff, Respondent-Appellant.
Case Date:July 12, 1976
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 1178

534 F.2d 1178 (5th Cir. 1976)

Warren C. MILLER, Jr., Petitioner-Appellee,


Clarence JONES, Sheriff, Respondent-Appellant.

No. 75-3882.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

July 12, 1976

Henry Wade, Crim. Dist. Atty., John B. Tolle, John H. Hagler, Asst. Dist. Attys., Dallas, Tex., for defendant-appellant.

Tom S. McCorkle, Dallas, Tex., for petitioner-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Page 1179

Before TUTTLE, AINSWORTH and CLARK, Circuit Judges.

CLARK, Circuit Judge:

Sheriff Clarence Jones appeals from the entry of a jury trial award of damages to Warren C. Miller, Jr., for wrongful imprisonment and for injuries sustained by Miller while held in Sheriff Jones' custody pursuant to an arrest warrant which, unknown to the Sheriff, had been withdrawn prior to Miller's arrest and incarceration. Jurisdiction of the count asserting wrongful arrest was laid under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343. Jurisdiction of the state law tort action for injuries sustained during imprisonment was asserted to be pendent.

The federal law claim was tried and instructed under the legal theories enunciated in this court's decision in Whirl v. Kern, 407 F.2d 781 (5th Cir. 1969). The court charged the jury that in the absence of actual notice of the warrant's withdrawal the Sheriff could be held liable based upon constructive notice of the judicial invalidation of the warrant for Miller's arrest but not until he had had a reasonable time to investigate into his legal authority to imprison plaintiff. One of the special issues the court addressed to the jury inquired whether Sheriff Jones failed to make a reasonable and timely investigation into the legal authority to imprison Miller after February 7, 1974, the date on which charges against Miller were dismissed. The jury found he did and assessed damages for this neglect.

The Sheriff's principal assertions on this appeal were that his actions were taken pursuant to a facially valid warrant and that his duty to commence a reasonable and timely investigation into the warrant's continuing force did not begin until February 9, 1974, the date upon which his deputies arrested and incarcerated Miller.

The undisputed facts disclosed that a charge of possession of marijuana had been lodged against Miller in early 1973. After a series of...

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