Handy v. City of Denver, 22-1054

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtJoel M. Carson III Circuit Judge
Decision Date16 February 2023
Docket Number22-1054

WYATT T. HANDY, JR., Plaintiff - Appellant,


No. 22-1054

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

February 16, 2023

(D.C. No. 1:19-CV-02403-RMR-SKC) (D. Colo.)

Before McHUGH, MORITZ, and CARSON, Circuit Judges.


Joel M. Carson III Circuit Judge

Wyatt T. Handy, Jr., proceeding pro se, appeals from the district court's dismissal of his complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and denial of his post-judgment motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Because we lack jurisdiction to review the dismissal order, we dismiss that portion of the appeal. But exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm the denial of the Rule 59(e) motion.



In December 2018, Mr. Handy was arrested on domestic violence charges and placed into custody at the Denver Jail. The county court judge set bond and ordered his release under maximum pretrial supervision with GPS monitoring (the Maximum Supervision Order). Mr. Handy was released to live at his uncle's house under the supervision of the Denver Pretrial Services Department. Because he was under maximum pretrial supervision, "he was not allowed to leave his uncle's house for any reason whatsoever, with the exception of medical emergencies, to go to Court, and to appointments with his pretrial services supervisor." ROA at 10. The pretrial services supervisor, Greta Aldridge, denied Mr. Handy's requests to leave his uncle's house for other reasons, including to visit his adult daughter and grandchildren and his elderly father, to obtain groceries or food, to obtain employment, to visit the federal district court, and to visit religious and spiritual leaders and attend religious services.

The district attorney dismissed the charges against Mr. Handy in July 2019. A month later, Mr. Handy filed a federal complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] As relevant to this action, he named Ms. Aldridge and the City and County of Denver (the City) as defendants. He alleged the conditions of his pretrial confinement to his uncle's house violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of association and to practice his religion, his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and


seizures, his Eighth Amendment right against excessive bail, and his Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process.

Ms. Aldridge and the City moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Ms. Aldridge argued that Mr. Handy could not plausibly allege that she was the "but for" cause of any constitutional violations where she was acting under the court's Maximum Supervision Order, or, to the extent he could plausibly allege causation, she was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. The City argued it was not liable because Mr. Handy did not sufficiently identify any municipal policies or practices that led to the alleged constitutional violations or show that any municipal policies or practices were the moving force behind the alleged violations.

In response, Mr. Handy argued that he set forth facts establishing Ms. Aldridge's participation in violating his constitutional rights, and that she was not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. He further asserted he was not challenging the county court's order or its authority to impose conditions of release. Instead, he challenged "the house arrest rules, regulations, and policies of Denver and [Denver Pretrial Services]," which substantially burdened his constitutional rights by precluding him from associating with others and practicing his religion. ROA at 60. Mr. Handy claimed that Denver's "rules &regulations[] are not court imposed statutory release conditions, but are rules &regulations established by Denver and [Denver Pretrial Services], for the pretrial release program, in addition to statutor[y] release conditions." Id. at 61.


In reply, the defendants asserted that "by statute and administrative order, it is the court that determines the terms of maximum supervision. Under the statute establishing pretrial services, the court-through an order of the chief judge- approves the particular pretrial services plan," including levels of supervision under pretrial release. Id. at 78. They stated that Colorado's "Second Judicial District adopted the pretrial services plan establishing that level 5 maximum supervision includes, among other conditions, home confinement [and] electronic monitoring/surveillance." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). "Thus, in approving maximum pretrial supervision for Mr. Handy, the court understood and intended such supervision to include the conditions in the guidelines adopted by the Second Judicial District." Id. The defendants further argued that because Ms. Aldridge was carrying out the county court's order, she was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. They attached a copy of the Second Amended Chief Judge Administrative Order No. 16-01, which was issued by Michael A. Martinez as the Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District (the Administrative Order).

A magistrate judge recommended that the district court grant the motion to dismiss. He opined that Ms. Aldridge was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity because she was enforcing a court order when she denied Mr. Handy's requests to leave his uncle's house. He further opined that the City could not be held liable in the absence of a constitutional violation by one or more of its agents, which Mr. Handy could not establish because Ms. Aldridge was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. The magistrate judge noted that Mr. Handy's complaint did not rely on


the Administrative Order, but he nonetheless opined that even if Mr. Handy's response were construed as a motion to amend his complaint, Mr. Handy could not state a claim based on the Administrative Order because it too was a judicial directive.

Mr. Handy filed timely objections. He also filed a motion to amend his complaint to allege that the Administrative Order was a policy and procedure that subjected the City to municipal liability.

The district court adopted the magistrate judge's recommendation, holding that Ms. Aldridge was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity and that Mr. Handy could not establish liability against the City because he could not establish a constitutional violation by any individual defendant because of quasi-judicial immunity. It also denied leave to amend, holding that amendment would be futile because the magistrate judge's recommendation had already considered the Administrative Order.

Mr. Handy then filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion to alter or amend the judgment. He argued that (1) Ms. Aldridge was not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity because she was not enforcing a court order, but enforcing the Administrative Order, and (2) the City was liable because the Administrative Order was an unconstitutional regulation or policy statement that it had adopted. In addition, he contended that amendment of the complaint would not be futile.

The City and Ms. Aldridge opposed the motion, asserting that Mr. Handy did not identify any new evidence or change in the law, but merely rehashed his arguments because he disagreed with the court's rulings. The district court denied


the Rule 59(e) motion, holding that "[n]othing in the motion to reconsider demonstrates that the Court misapprehended the facts, Plaintiff's position, or the controlling law and that reinstatement of this action is warranted." ROA at 234.

Mr. Handy now appeals.


Because Mr. Handy proceeds pro se, we construe his filings liberally. See Garrett v. Selby Connor Maddux &Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005). But he must "follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants," and "the court cannot take on the responsibility of serving as [his] attorney in constructing arguments and searching the record." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

I. Jurisdiction

First we must consider our jurisdiction to review the district court's orders. Mr. Handy's notice of appeal was timely as to the Rule 59(e) motion, but not the order dismissing his complaint. Therefore, we have jurisdiction to review only the denial of the Rule 59(e) motion.

"[T]he timely filing of a notice of appeal in a civil case is a jurisdictional requirement." Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205, 214 (2007). The district court entered its judgment dismissing Mr. Handy's claims and denying leave to amend on December 15, 2021. Mr. Handy had 30 days from the entry of judgment-until January 14, 2022-to file his notice of appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A).

A timely Rule 59(e) motion tolls the time to file a notice of appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(A)(iv); Vanderwerf v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 603 F.3d 842, 846 (10th Cir. 2010).


But Mr. Handy's Rule 59(e) motion was not timely. He had 28 days after the entry of judgment to file his motion, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), making it due on January 12, 2022. He filed it one day late, on January 13, 2022.

The district court considered the motion to be timely under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(d), which gives a party three extra days when service is by mail. Rule 6(d), however, applies when a party's deadline is based on the date of service of a pleading. The Rule 59(e) deadline is not based on service, but on the entry of judgment. Rule 6(d) thus does not apply to filing a Rule 59(e) motion. See Parker v. Bd. of Pub. Utilities, 77 F.3d 1289, 1291 (10th Cir. 1996) (discussing Rule 6(d)'s predecessor).

Because Mr. Handy's Rule 59(e) motion was not timely, it did not toll the time to appeal. See Allender v. Raytheon Aircraft Co., 439 F.3d 1236, 1241 (10th Cir. 2006). And although the notice of appeal for the dismissal order was due on January 14, 2022, he did not file his notice of appeal until February 24, 2022....

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