Hall v. City of Los Angeles

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
Citation710 F.Supp.2d 984
Docket NumberNo. CV 05-1977 ABC (AJWx),CV 05-1977 ABC (AJWx)
PartiesHarold C. HALL, Plaintiff v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date20 April 2010
710 F.Supp.2d 984

Harold C. HALL, Plaintiff
CITY OF LOS ANGELES, et al., Defendants.

No. CV 05-1977 ABC (AJWx).

United States District Court,
C.D. California.

April 20, 2010.

710 F.Supp.2d 986

John Christopher Burton, John C. Burton Law Offices, Pasadena, CA, William J. Genego, Nasatir Hirsch Podberesky and Genego, Santa Monica, CA, for Plaintiff.

Cory M. Brente, Geoffrey R. Plowden, Wendy C. Shapero, Surekha A. Pessis, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Donald G. Forgey, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard and Smith, Los Angeles, CA, Tina D. Varjian, Law Offices of Lisa Collinson, Manhattan Beach, CA, for Defendants.



Pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants City of Los Angeles, Detective Kenneth Crocker, and Detective Mark Arneson. (Mot. (Docket # 195).) Plaintiff Harold Hall filed an opposition, and Defendants filed a reply. (Opp'n (Docket # 198); Reply (Docket # 206).) The parties also filed supplemental briefing requested by the Court. (Defs.' Suppl. Brief (Docket # 216); Plf.'s Suppl. Opp'n (Docket # 217); Defs.' Suppl. Reply (Docket # 220).) The motion came on for a hearing on April 19, 2010. Having reviewed the materials presented, the record, and arguments of counsel, the Court hereby GRANTS the motion.


This case arises out of a series of unfortunate events.1 On June 27, 1985, siblings Nola Duncan and David Rainey were brutally

710 F.Supp.2d 987
murdered. (PRSUF 1; DRSUF 33-34.) 2 On August 17, 1985, Hall was arrested for a robbery unrelated to the Duncan-Rainey murders. (PRSUF 4; DRSUF 6.) Due to his role as a witness and informant in an unrelated gang shooting (the "54th Street shooting") (PRSUF 9; DRSUF 3), Hall was confined with other jailhouse informants separate from the general population to protect him from retribution from those against whom he testified ( see DRSUF 8). That protection was secured by Detective Wayne Dufort, who was investigating the 54th Street shooting. (PRSUF 8; DRSUF 8.) Hall was afraid that he would be subjected to significant violence if he were moved to the jail's general population. ( See DRSUF 11; see also Hall Decl. ¶¶ 2, 13-14 (Docket # 212).)

After officers received information from jailhouse informants linking Hall to the Duncan-Rainey murders ( see PRSUF 10-12, 14-19), Hall was questioned about those murders (PRSUF 23). The detectives principally investigating the Duncan-Rainey murders were Arneson and Crocker. (PRSUF 3.) 3 On September 5, 1985, Hall was interviewed by Crocker and Detective Lionel Roberts. (PRSUF at 23.) That interview lasted roughly one hour and Hall was not given his Miranda warnings during it. (PRSUF at 23-24.) Hall testified that the detectives accused him of being involved in the murders, and that he denied such involvement. (PRSUF 32.) Hall did tell the detectives that he had heard about the Duncan murder, though, and he and the detectives discussed the purported involvement in the murders of an acquaintance of Hall's, Jerry Knox. ( See PRSUF at 25, 28-30.) Hall actually knew that Knox was in prison at the time of the murders and could not have participated in them. (PRSUF 31.)

Hall was interviewed again for about an hour on September 9, 1985 by Arneson and Crocker. (PRSUF 33-34.) During that interview, Hall identified Knox in a photo lineup. (PRSUF 36.)

Defendants subsequently became aware that Knox was in prison at the time of the murders. (PRSUF 37.) Defendants confronted Hall with that discovery on September 11, 1985. (PRSUF 37.) 4 During the ensuing interrogation, Hall confessed to various crimes including stabbing Duncan. ( See DRSUF 23.) That interrogation is the focus of the pending motion. Hall described the interrogation as being conducted in several phases. (PRSUF 39.) The first phase was conducted by Dufort and Detective Aaron Martin with respect to the 54th Street shooting. (PRSUF 40.) Arneson had contacted Dufort earlier that day, "insisting" that he come to the jail to

710 F.Supp.2d 988
interview Plaintiff. ( See DRSUF at 12.) The first phase began at approximately 8:00 a.m. and continued until sometime near noon. (PRSUF 40.)

Following that phase, Hall was moved to a different portion of the same room where he was interviewed by Dufort, Martin, Crocker and Arneson regarding the Duncan-Rainey murders. ( See PRSUF 41-42, 44.) Hall's deposition testimony suggests that this phase continued until roughly 6:00 p.m. ( See PRSUF 43.) 5

During this stage of the questioning, Hall implicated himself in the Rainey-Duncan murders. ( See PRSUF 44; DRSUF 23; see also Plfs.' Ex. 147 (Docket # 212).) 6 Arneson did most of the questioning about the Duncan murder, using the "we know more than you think we know" technique. (DRSUF 19.) Arneson falsely told Hall that there was physical evidence tying him to the murder scene. (PRSUF 63.) Hall also argues the investigators used Dufort's presence at the interrogation as a threat that Hall could be placed in the jail's general population, where he would be vulnerable to violence stemming from his testimony regarding the 54th Street shooting. ( See DRSUF 20.) In particular, Hall recounts the following exchange:

Arneson said, "Let's go file on him since he doesn't want to tell us what we want to know.["] Dufort said, "Harold, don't you realize that if they file this murder on you and you're convicted, you're going to be in prison with Ace Capone, the same guy you testified against. You know as well as I do that they'll kill you.["] He added, "You think all the inmates are trying to kill you now, wait till [sic] you get to state prison." Crocker said, "You don't want to go to prison and face the guy you testified against, do you? You know that was a big thing, Harold, the 54th Street murders. Ace Capone's homeboys are going to be after you." Dufort said, "Think about it, Harold. If you go to prison, every Blood gang is going to be after you for testifying against Ace Capone, and all the Crips are going to be after you for driving Bloods to the party."
(Hall Decl. ¶ 10.) Hall asserts that he falsely confessed because he felt he had to do so to remain protected from those who he believed would kill him. (PRSUF 66, 68.) 7

Hall was not given his Miranda admonitions while he was interrogated about the Duncan-Rainey murders and the 54th Street shooting. (DRSUF 16.) Midway through the interrogation, he requested to speak with his attorney, but Arneson told him that only guilty people need to speak with attorneys and continued questioning him. (DRSUF 22.) Hall was handcuffed throughout the interrogation and was not given food during the interrogation. (PRSUF 51, 55.) Hall's recollection is that he was not allowed to use the bathroom during this second phase of the interrogation, though he used it earlier that morning and may have used it at the conclusion of the second phase of the interrogation. ( See PRSUF 57-59.)

710 F.Supp.2d 989

Hall was eventually charged with the Rainey-Duncan murders. At trial, the prosecution submitted evidence of Plaintiff's written confession, two oral statements, and notes provided to detectives by jailhouse informant Cornelius Lee. Hall was convicted of both murders and received life imprisonment without parole.

He then timely filed a habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Ninth Circuit ultimately found that petition meritorious and overturned Hall's convictions for the Rainey-Duncan murders. Hall v. Dir. of Corrections, 343 F.3d 976 (9th Cir.2003). The Ninth Circuit reversed the conviction for the Rainey murder due to insufficient evidence. The Ninth Circuit reversed the conviction for the Duncan murder because Hall's constitutional due process rights were violated as informant Lee admitted that he had lied at Hall's preliminary hearing and deliberately fabricated the notes used against Hall at trial in an effort to frame him. Hall was released in August 2004 and the State has not attempted to retry him.


This suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 followed Hall's release. The matter was previously handled by Judge Schiavelli, who granted Defendants' first summary judgment motion. (First MSJ Order.) Prior to Judge Schiavelli's hearing on the first summary judgment motion, Plaintiff voluntary dismissed several claims. Accordingly, Judge Schiavelli's analysis focused on Plaintiff's claim of deliberate fabrication of evidence against Arneson and Crocker. That claim was predicated on the Ninth Circuit's decision in Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1074-75 (9th Cir.2001) (en banc), which held that there is "a clearly established constitutional due process right not to be subjected to criminal charges on the basis of false evidence that was deliberately fabricated by the government." The Ninth Circuit provided two avenues by which a plaintiff can succeed in bringing such a claim; namely, a plaintiff

must, at a minimum, point to evidence that supports at least one of the following two propositions: (1) Defendants continued their investigation of [Plaintiff] despite the fact that they knew or should have known that he was innocent; or (2) Defendants used investigative techniques that were so coercive and abusive that they knew or should have known that those techniques would yield false information.
Id. at 1076 (emphasis in original).

In ruling on the first summary judgment motion, Judge Schiavelli found that Plaintiff failed to produce evidence sufficient to create a triable issue of fact on Devereaux prong (1). Judge Schiavelli also determined that summary judgment was appropriate as to Devereaux prong (2). First, Judge Schiavelli ruled that collateral estoppel precluded Plaintiff from meeting the Devereaux prong (2) standard with evidence of the purportedly coercive interrogation of Plaintiff himself because the Ninth Circuit's order granting habeas relief had found that it was not coercive.8 Second, Judge...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases
  • Lawson v. Gregg, Case No. 3:11-cv-00151-SLG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Alaska
    • 1 d5 Março d5 2019
    ...16. Docket 104 at 6. 17. Docket 108; see Dockets 108-1 through 108-5. 18. Docket 108 at 19-20. 19. Hall v. City of Los Angeles, 710 F. Supp. 2d 984, 991 (C.D. Cal. 2010), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 697 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States v. Lummi Indian Tribe, 235 F.3d 443, ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT