854 F.2d 374 (10th Cir. 1988), 86-1708, Coen v. Runner

Docket Nº:86-1708.
Citation:854 F.2d 374
Party Name:George COEN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. William RUNNER, Superintendent of Brand Inspectors for Fremont County, Wyoming; Dean Prosser, Chief Brand Inspector for the State of Wyoming; the Wyoming Stockgrower's Association, a non-profit Wyoming corporation; William Lassiter, Deputy Sheriff of Fremont County, Wyoming; Tim McKinney, Sheriff of Fremont Coun
Case Date:August 16, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 374

854 F.2d 374 (10th Cir. 1988)

George COEN, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

William RUNNER, Superintendent of Brand Inspectors for

Fremont County, Wyoming; Dean Prosser, Chief Brand

Inspector for the State of Wyoming; the Wyoming

Stockgrower's Association, a non-profit Wyoming corporation;

William Lassiter, Deputy Sheriff of Fremont County,

Wyoming; Tim McKinney, Sheriff of Fremont County, Wyoming;

and the Fremont County Sheriff's Department, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 86-1708.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 16, 1988

Page 375

Charles E. Hamilton, of Hamilton Law Associates, P.C., of Riverton, Wyo., for plaintiff-appellant.

James L. Applegate (Glenn Parker and John J. Metzke, of Hirst & Applegate, of Cheyenne, Wyo., with him on the brief), of Hirst & Applegate, of Cheyenne, Wyo., for defendants-appellees William Runner, Dean Prosser, and the Wyoming Stock Growers Ass'n.

Elizabeth Z. Smith, of Freudenthal, Salzburg, Bonds & Rideout, P.C., of Cheyenne, Wyo., for defendants-appellees William Lassiter, Tim McKinney, and the Fremont County Sheriff's Dept.

Before HOLLOWAY, Chief Judge, and McWILLIAMS, and TACHA, Circuit Judges.

Page 376

TACHA, Circuit Judge.

George Coen appeals from the district court's order granting summary judgment for defendants on qualified immunity grounds. We affirm.

I.

These facts were undisputed at the time of the district court's summary judgment order. In 1983 William Runner, a cattle brand inspector in Fremont County, Wyoming, and William Lassiter, a deputy sheriff for the county, were investigating a series of cattle rustling incidents. During that investigation, one of the suspects implicated Coen. Runner and Lassiter expanded their investigation to determine whether Coen was involved in the rustling. In August 1983 Coen called Runner and asked that Runner go to Coen's house the next day to inspect some horses. Runner agreed to go, and when he arrived, he saw that another inspector, Boyd Whitman, was already there. After Coen complained to the two inspectors about the treatment he was receiving from inspectors, he threatened to kill both Runner and Whitman.

When the inspectors left Coen's home, they decided to contact Lassiter about Coen's threat to kill them. After discussing the incident with Lassiter, they passed the information on to William Eichelberger, who was a deputy county attorney. Eichelberger advised Runner and Lassiter to submit affidavits concerning the incident and to file a criminal complaint. Based upon the affidavits submitted by Runner and Lassiter, Judge Donald Hall issued a criminal warrant charging Coen with violation of section 6-5-305(a) of the Wyoming statutes. Under the statute, it is a felony to "influence, intimidate or impede a juror, witness or officer in the discharge of his duty."

Coen was arrested, and Fremont County Sheriff Tim McKinney issued a press release that contained information regarding Coen's arrest. The charges against him were dismissed when Judge Hall concluded that the statute under which Coen was charged referred to only those "officers" performing court-related duties. Coen then instituted this lawsuit in which he alleged that Runner and Lassiter acted under color of state law to abridge his first and fourth amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983; he also seeks damages for malicious prosecution and abuse of...

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