Hallstrom v. City of Garden City

Decision Date15 September 1992
Docket NumberNo. 91-35662,91-35662
Citation991 F.2d 1473
PartiesSusan HALLSTROM; Robert Hallstrom, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF GARDEN CITY; Randy W. Snapp; Sgt. Thurston; Vaughn Killeen, Sheriff; Mike Roberts, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Robert C. Hallstrom, pro se.

Susan Hallstrom, Boise, pro se.

James J. Davis, Davis, Wright, Tremaine, Boise, ID, and John L. King and Frank P. Kotyk, Cantrill, Skinner, Sullivan & King, Boise, ID, for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho.

Before: WRIGHT, FLETCHER and CANBY, Circuit Judges.

FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:

Susan and Robert Hallstrom appeal the dismissal on summary judgment of their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. They describe themselves as self-taught "legalists" active and vocal in defending their constitutional rights. They claim violations of their rights stemming from the conduct of Ada County, Garden City, and each governmental entity's officers during the arrest of Mr. Hallstrom in March 1982 and the arrest and incarceration of Mrs. Hallstrom in June 1987. They also challenge the constitutionality of Idaho Code § 18-705 (1987), which prohibits obstruction of justice. They seek declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, including exemplary damages. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants, and denied summary judgment to plaintiffs, finding that Mr. and Mrs. Hallstrom were not deprived of any constitutional rights. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Because we find that Susan Hallstrom's right to be taken before a magistrate in a timely fashion was violated, that she was detained unjustifiably after a judge ordered her released on bail, and that she raises cognizable constitutional claims with respect to her conditions of confinement, we reverse in part and affirm in part.


The Hallstroms filed a complaint naming the City of Garden City, the arresting Garden City police officers, Ada County, the Ada County Sheriff and Jail Commander, the State of Idaho, the City of Boise, and other unknown "Doe" officials as defendants. The Garden City police officers were sued in their official and individual capacities, as was the Ada County Jail Commander; the sheriff was sued only in his official capacity. The City of Boise filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in which the State of Idaho joined. Garden City and the Garden City police officers filed a motion to dismiss. The district court granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed the City of Boise and the State of Idaho. The court initially denied the dismissal of the Garden City defendants, but did dismiss the punitive damages claims against Garden City. The Hallstroms do not appeal these determinations. The Garden City defendants and the Ada County defendants then separately filed motions for summary judgment. The Hallstroms filed a cross-motion for summary judgment against Ada County and its officials seeking declaratory relief only. They did not file any motion with respect to the Garden City defendants. The district court granted summary judgment for the Garden City and Ada County defendants against the Hallstroms, denied the plaintiffs' cross-motion, and entered a separate judgment dismissing the action as to all defendants including the "Does" 811 F.Supp. 1443. Before reaching the issues raised by the Hallstroms or considering the principal defenses of defendants, the court decided three subsidiary issues. First, it found that the Hallstrom's state law claims were barred by failure to comply with the procedural requirements of the Idaho Tort Claims Act, thus entitling the Ada County defendants to dismissal of all state claims. Second, it determined that the Ada County Jail Commander was shielded by a qualified immunity defense with respect to his individual liability. 1 And third, it dismissed the punitive damages claim against Ada County. On appeal, the Hallstroms seek reversal of the district court's summary judgment in its entirety.


Mr. Hallstrom was arrested in 1982 for obstructing justice by failing to produce identification upon request. He was booked and released. At no time in the course of the encounter was he imprisoned. The charges were dismissed in 1983.

On a Friday morning in 1987, Mrs. Hallstrom's vehicle was stopped by an officer of the Garden City Police Department for a broken taillight. When she refused to show the officer her driver's license or proof of liability insurance coverage, she was arrested. She told the officer that she did not believe Idaho law required her to carry a license, and that, in any event, requiring her to carry one violated her right to travel. Officer Snapp arrested her, searched her car, and transported her to the Ada County jail. Officer Thurston oversaw the impoundment of the car.

While in custody, Mrs. Hallstrom was cited for motor vehicle violations. 2 She repeatedly requested presentation to a magistrate and refused to answer routine booking questions or to submit to routine booking procedures, on the ground that such questions and procedures violated her constitutional rights. Because of Hallstrom's failure to cooperate, the county officials charged her with obstruction of justice. They ignored her demands to be taken before a magistrate, and simply incarcerated her until she agreed to cooperate with county booking procedures. Susan Hallstrom was held in Ada County jail for six days. She was not taken before a judicial officer until Monday afternoon, four days following her arrest, at which time she was arraigned before a state court judge and ordered released on bail. Only after her husband obtained a court order requiring her to comply with booking procedures did she submit to answering questions, and allow fingerprints and photographs to be taken. Late Wednesday afternoon, two days after the state court judge had ordered her released, the county officials released Mrs. Hallstrom on bail.


With respect to Mr. Hallstrom's arrest, appellees argue that any claims arising from events occurring in 1982 are time-barred. The applicable statute of limitations for Section 1983 actions is the limitations period for personal injury actions in the state where the action arose. Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-50, 109 S.Ct. 573, 581-82, 102 L.Ed.2d 594 (1989). In Idaho, the applicable statute is Idaho Code § 5-219(4) (1990), which provides for a limitations period of two years from the date the cause of action accrues. Using the broadest interpretation possible, the latest date that Mr. Hallstrom could have become aware that his civil rights were violated was January, 1983, when the charges against him were dismissed. The Hallstroms filed their complaint in 1987; therefore, Mr. Hallstrom's claims are time-barred. We affirm the district court's dismissal of his claims.


Mrs. Hallstrom contends that Officer Snapp illegally arrested her and searched her car and personal effects without probable cause in violation of her Fourth Amendment and other constitutional rights.

No one questions that Officer Snapp had probable cause to stop her vehicle when he observed its broken taillight. Idaho Code § 49-906 (1988); In re Griffiths, 113 Idaho 364, 744 P.2d 92 (1987) (traffic offenses give police probable cause to stop vehicle). Mrs. Hallstrom erroneously argues that Idaho law does not require her to have a driver's license as a condition of driving a motor vehicle in Idaho. To the contrary, Idaho law makes it a misdemeanor to drive a vehicle without a driver's license. Idaho Code §§ 49-316 (formerly § 49-319), 49-236 (1988 & Supp.1992). Operation of a motor vehicle is a "highly regulated activity, therefore the driver accepts the regulatory burden along with the benefit of using the public roads." State v. Henderson, 114 Idaho 293, 756 P.2d 1057, 1070 (1988) (Walters, J., dissenting). The laws requiring drivers to carry proof of insurance and registration are valid laws enacted by the state of Idaho. Idaho Code § 49-1232 (formerly § 49-245) (1988 & Supp.1992); see State v. Gibson, 108 Idaho 202, 697 P.2d 1216, 1218 (App.1985); State v. Reed, 107 Idaho 162, 686 P.2d 842 (App.1984). Under Idaho Code § 49-1407 (1988), an officer has the option of taking the person "without unnecessary delay" before a magistrate rather than issuing a traffic citation, "[w]hen the person does not furnish satisfactory evidence of identity or when the officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe the person will disregard a written promise to appear in court." Because Mrs. Hallstrom failed to identify herself 3 and, by her actions, demonstrated that she was likely to continue driving without a license, Officer Snapp did not violate her rights under Idaho law or the Constitution by making the arrest.

Nor did the officer violate Mrs. Hallstrom's Fourth Amendment rights in searching the car and items in it within her reach. Searches incident to lawful arrest constitute a well-established exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 224, 94 S.Ct. 467, 471, 38 L.Ed.2d 427 (1973); see also New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454, 460, 101 S.Ct. 2860, 2864, 69 L.Ed.2d 768 (1981); United States v. Lorenzo, 867 F.2d 561, 562 (9th Cir.1989). Because she committed a misdemeanor in Officer Snapp's presence, he had probable cause to arrest her. His subsequent search of the vehicle and its contents was proper and reasonable. 4 We affirm the district court's dismissal of Mrs. Hallstrom's Fourth Amendment claims with respect to the arrest and search.


Mrs. Hallstrom contends that the county and city officials violated her right to be taken before a magistrate without undue delay, her right to be released upon a court order,...

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