830 F.2d 237 (D.C. Cir. 1987), 86-5561, Martin v. Malhoyt

Docket Nº:86-5561, 86-5565.
Citation:830 F.2d 237
Party Name:Kenneth W. MARTIN v. John P. MALHOYT, et al., Appellants John Doe(s), et al. Shirley Ann STEVENS v. David H. STOVER, et al., Appellants John Doe, et al.
Case Date:September 29, 1987
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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Page 237

830 F.2d 237 (D.C. Cir. 1987)

Kenneth W. MARTIN

v.

John P. MALHOYT, et al., Appellants

John Doe(s), et al.

Shirley Ann STEVENS

v.

David H. STOVER, et al., Appellants

John Doe, et al.

Nos. 86-5561, 86-5565.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

September 29, 1987

Argued March 25, 1987.

Opinion on Denial of Rehearing Nov. 24, 1987.

Page 238

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 239

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Civil Action Nos. 85-02274 and 85-02035).

Michael L. Martinez, Asst. U.S. Atty., with whom Joseph E. diGenova, U.S. Atty., Royce C. Lamberth and R. Craig Lawrence, Asst. U.S. Attys., Washington, D.C., were on the brief for appellants.

James L. Coffin, with whom Joseph P. Hart, Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellees.

Before GINSBURG and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and McGOWAN, Senior Circuit Judge.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge RUTH B. GINSBURG.

Opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part filed by Circuit Judge WILLIAMS.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, Circuit Judge:

These consolidated appeals arise out of independent but, in legally relevant respects, similar episodes. Each began with U.S. Park Police officers investigating a minor traffic incident, escalated into a violent (or at least physical) encounter, and culminated in an arrest. Plaintiffs in the two cases--Kenneth Martin and Shirley Stevens--subsequently filed suit in the district court, seeking damages for alleged violations of their common law and constitutional rights. The defendant federal officers asserted immunity, by reason of their official positions, from all of the plaintiffs' claims, and moved for dismissal of the actions as to them. The district court denied their motions, and this appeal followed. We affirm in part and reverse in part. In explaining our dispositions, we grapple with unsettled aspects of the federal law governing official immunity.

I. THE EPISODES IN SUIT

The congeries of facts that prompted these lawsuits, as the district judge observed, are sharply disputed. We set the opening scene in each case, then summarize separately each side's account of what occurred.

  1. Martin v. Malhoyt, No. 86-5561

    Plaintiff Kenneth W. Martin worked as a chauffeur for a limousine tour service operating in Washington, D.C. On July 17, 1984, at about 12:35 p.m., he was seated behind the wheel of a Cadillac limousine parked near the Lincoln Memorial in a zone reserved for the disabled. From this point on, the parties' accounts diverge. 1

    1. Martin's account

    According to Martin, a man in a United States Park Service uniform approached the limousine and asked Martin why he

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    was parked in the disabled-only area. Martin replied that one of his passengers, a child, was having difficulty walking, whereupon the uniformed man departed. A few minutes later, a United States Park Police officer, later identified as Sergeant John P. Malhoyt, arrived at the spot. He too asked why Martin had parked in a restricted area. Martin repeated his explanation. Malhoyt said he would wait to see if Martin's story was true. Malhoyt then returned to his police vehicle and parked it in another space reserved for disabled persons, directly to the rear of Martin's limousine.

    About ten minutes later, Martin noticed his passengers--a family of four (two young children and their parents)--descending the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He drove slowly towards them. Malhoyt immediately pursued, emergency lights flashing and siren sounding. Martin promptly stopped. Malhoyt appeared at the driver's window of the limousine and demanded Martin's driver's license and vehicle registration. Martin started to get out of the car to conveniently remove from his pocket his wallet, which contained his license and the vehicle registration. Before Martin could retrieve his wallet, however, Malhoyt "brutally grabbed [Martin] around [the] waist, ... threw [him] back into [the] driver['s] seat," and slammed the car door on his leg. 2 Martin handed over his driver's license and the vehicle registration. Malhoyt thereupon returned to the police car, apparently to check the documents.

    Just then, Martin saw his passengers approaching the limousine. Almost reflexively, he got out of the vehicle to open the door for them. Suddenly, without a word of instruction or command to Martin, Malhoyt reappeared at the limousine, pushed Martin against the vehicle, and twisted his arms behind his back. Malhoyt then handcuffed Martin and forced him into the police car, where Martin was obliged to sit, hands cuffed behind his back, for a prolonged period of time. An old shoulder injury made the awkward position severely painful for Martin, and he felt humiliated in front of his passengers and other onlookers.

    After talking to the limousine passengers, Malhoyt drove Martin to the Park Police Station at 1100 Ohio Drive, S.W. Unable to say why he had made the arrest, Malhoyt asked Martin to sign a document and pay $10.00 to end the matter. Martin refused and was then fingerprinted and placed in a jail cell. Hours later, as Martin recalls, he was again put in a police car, hands cuffed behind his back, and was brought to the courthouse, but arrived there too late to obtain a hearing that day. On return to the Park Police Station, Malhoyt told Martin that this time, Martin would remain locked up overnight. Martin then called an attorney; on the attorney's advice, Martin posted $10.00 as collateral so that he could gain release. Martin estimates that he was released at about 5:00 p.m., approximately four hours after his arrest. Just as he was leaving the station, Martin states, Malhoyt informed him for the first time that he was being charged with disorderly conduct and disobeying the order of a police officer.

    Two weeks later, on the date set for trial of the disorderly conduct charge, Martin and his attorney spent hours waiting in the District of Columbia Superior Court, but Martin's name was not called. Upon checking with the Office of the Corporation Counsel, Martin's attorney learned that the charge would be dismissed because no one from the Park Police had appeared to "paper" it. Trial on the charge of disobeying an officer's order was set for August 29, 1984; on August 28, however, Martin learned that this charge too would be dismissed for the same reason.

    2. Malhoyt's account

    According to Sergeant Malhoyt, at about 12:30 p.m. on the afternoon of July 17, 1984, Park Aide John R. Jones III summoned him to the Lincoln Memorial Circle to resolve a parking problem. On arrival, he saw Martin's Cadillac limousine parked in a space reserved for disabled persons; Jones informed Malhoyt that the limousine driver had twice refused to leave, and had dared Jones to call the police. When Malhoyt told Martin that the Cadillac was parked illegally, Martin responded that one of his passengers, a small child, was having difficulty walking. Jones, who was within earshot, and Martin began to argue, Jones claiming that Martin had said nothing to

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    him about a disabled passenger. Malhoyt stopped the argument by sending Jones away. Telling Martin he would wait to verify Martin's account, Malhoyt returned to his police cruiser and parked it behind the limousine.

    A few minutes later, without warning, the limousine started south on French Drive away from the Lincoln Memorial. Because no passengers had approached the Cadillac and the driver was apparently leaving the Memorial, Malhoyt decided to ticket the driver for illegally parking in a disabled-only zone. Malhoyt switched on his emergency equipment as he pursued the limousine, which came to a stop 75 to 100 yards down French Drive. After Malhoyt asked Martin several times for his driver's license and registration, Martin opened the car door and got out. As Martin handed Malhoyt his license and registration, Malhoyt told Martin to get back in the car because Malhoyt thought this would be safer for Martin and oncoming traffic, as well as for Malhoyt himself if Martin proved dangerous. After Malhoyt repeated this instruction several times, Martin sat down in the car, leaving the door open and keeping his left foot on the street. Malhoyt, as he tells it, "lifted [Martin's] leg, plac[ed] it in the car[,] and closed the door." 3

    Back in his police cruiser, Malhoyt noticed some people approaching the Cadillac; surmising (correctly) that these were the limousine passengers, he left the cruiser to determine whether anyone in the group was walking with difficulty. Martin also left his vehicle and walked toward the passengers. Malhoyt then asked Martin to return to the limousine so that Malhoyt could speak to the passengers without Martin's interference. Martin refused, and became "increasingly argumentative, loud[,] and uncooperative." 4 "Concerned that th[e] situation was getting out of control," 5 Malhoyt arrested Martin for disorderly conduct.

    At the Park Police Station, Malhoyt charged Martin with disorderly conduct and disobeying the order of a police officer. Malhoyt then explained Martin's options to him: Martin could post collateral (and either forfeit or demand a court date) or go directly to court. Malhoyt claims he processed the case as quickly as possible. He does not dispute that he arrived at court with Martin several minutes too late to afford Martin a hearing that day, but he asserts that Martin was released by mid-afternoon, immediately upon posting $10.00 as collateral, at about 3:30 p.m. Malhoyt further states that he asked another Park Police sergeant to have an officer from his squad "paper" Martin's case and that he provided that other sergeant with the necessary information and documentation...

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