Hicks v. Bexar County, Tex.

Decision Date13 June 1997
Docket NumberNo. SA-96-CA-951.,SA-96-CA-951.
Citation973 F.Supp. 653
PartiesRonald James HICKS, Plaintiff, v. BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS, Cyndi Taylor Krier, Bexar County Judge, Robert Tejeda, Bexar County Commissioner, Paul Elizondo, Bexar County Commissioner, Walter Bielstein, Bexar County Commissioner, Mike Novak, Bexar County Commissioner, City of San Antonio, Texas, John A. Smith, San Antonio Municipal Court Judge, Russell Mitchell, San Antonio Municipal Court Judge, Russell Mitchell, San Antonio Municipal Court Judge, Robert Gleinser, Captain, San Antonio Police Department, John Doe's 1-30 and Jane Doe's 1-30, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Texas

Ronald James Hicks, pro se.

Kathleen Finck Watel, Bexar County District Attorney Office, Criminal District Attorney, San Antonio, TX, for Defendants Bexar County, Cyndi Taylor Krier, Robert Tejeda, Paul Elizondo, Walter Bielstein and Mike Novak.

Regina Bacon Criswell, City Attorney's Office, San Antonio, TX, Amy M. Eubanks, Brock & Person, P.C., San Antonio, TX, for Defendants John A. Smith, Russell Mitchell, Richard Gleisner and John Does 1-30.

PRADO, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Ronald James Hicks filed this lawsuit pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 in an unsuccessful attempt to make a federal case out of his dealings with two San Antonio Municipal Court Judges over several traffic citations. In addition to the City of San Antonio, the two San Antonio Municipal Judges, and a San Antonio Police Officer, plaintiff named as defendants Bexar County, Texas, and the entire membership of the Bexar County Commissioner's Court. For the reasons set forth at length below, the defendants' motions for summary judgment will all be granted, plaintiff's claims will be dismissed with prejudice, and the defendants will be directed to file proper summary judgment proof regarding the amount of reasonable attorneys fees they actually incurred in defending themselves from this patently frivolous and malicious lawsuit, pursuant to Rule 11, Fed.R.Civ.P.

I. Statement of the Case

On September 4, 1996, plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the Midland-Odessa Division of this Court pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. Sections 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986, alleging that (1) an inter-local agreement exists between Bexar County and the City of San Antonio under which the City provides 24-hour magistrate service for persons within the jurisdictional boundaries of Bexar County, (2) plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated in connection with a traffic ticket issued to plaintiff on an unspecified date, (3) two Municipal Court Judges, i.e., John A. Smith and Russell Mitchell, failed to properly perform unspecified duties assigned to them as magistrates and thereby violated plaintiff's constitutional rights, (4) magistrates Smith and Mitchell conspired in unspecified ways with various County officials, including the Bexar County Judge and members of the Bexar County Commissioner's Court to engage in unspecified racketeering activities and to violate plaintiff's constitutional rights, (5) plaintiff was given one or more traffic citations on one or more unspecified dates but was not taken before a magistrate within the time frame required by state law, (6) on October 20, 1995, plaintiff appeared before magistrate Smith in connection with ticket no. M 239070 but that magistrate failed to fulfill his duties under applicable state law, to wit, the magistrate failed to issue an Order directing the accused to appear at a later date for arraignment in the County Court or statutory County Court, (7) plaintiff appeared before magistrate Smith in connection with ticket no. M 239070 again on November 15, 1995 and magistrate Smith again refused to issue an Order in accordance with state law directing plaintiff to appear before a County Court or County Court-at-Law but instead apparently imposed fines totaling more than five hundred seventy dollars based on plaintiff's commission of three traffic violations, to wit, driving without a valid liability insurance, failing to display valid license plates, and failing to have a valid inspection certificate, (8) on December 27, 1995, in connection with ticket no. M 299173, plaintiff appeared before magistrate Mitchell who also refused to issue an Order directing plaintiff to appear before a County Court or County Court-at-Law but instead apparently imposed fines totaling more than five hundred seventy dollars based on plaintiff's commission of three traffic violations, to wit, driving without a valid liability insurance, failing to display valid license plates, and failing to have a valid inspection certificate, and (9) on January 17, 1996, San Antonio Police Officer Richard Gleinser sent plaintiff a letter in which he demanded money from the plaintiff and threatened plaintiff with arrest unless the plaintiff paid a fine imposed upon plaintiff.1

In an Order issued September 17, 1996, this Court advised plaintiff that his original complaint could not withstand scrutiny under applicable law and directed plaintiff to answer a detailed questionnaire attached thereto.2 On September 24, 1996, plaintiff filed his answers to the Court's questionnaire.3 On September 30, 1996, plaintiff filed amended answers to the Court's questionnaire.4 In his answers and amended answers to the Court's questionnaire, plaintiff stated, in pertinent part, that (1) on October 20, 1995, he received a traffic citation from an unidentified San Antonio Police Officer, (2) plaintiff executed a written promise to appear and sent a separate written notice to the Magistrate that he would appear as he promised, (3) on October 20, 1995, he attempted to go to the magistrate section of the San Antonio Municipal Court but an unidentified person refused plaintiff admission, (4) on October 23, 1995, he served notice on both the San Antonio Municipal Court and Bexar County that he was demanding an examining trial, (5) plaintiff received a notice to appear before San Antonio Municipal Court Judge John A. Smith, (6) on November 15, 1995, he appeared before Judge Smith and informed Judge Smith that the San Antonio Municipal Court had no jurisdiction over plaintiff or the traffic citation in question, (7) when plaintiff attempted to leave the courtroom, Judge Smith had plaintiff detained until the pretrial hearing was concluded, (8) Judge Smith demanded that plaintiff enter a plea but plaintiff refused to do so, (9) Judge Smith then entered a plea of not guilty for plaintiff without plaintiff's consent, (10) Judge Smith then set plaintiff's case for trial in municipal court and told plaintiff that he was free to go, (11) on November 18, 1995, plaintiff served a notice on Judge Smith that plaintiff did not consider Judge Smith's reinstatement of the charge against plaintiff to be valid and argued that Judge Smith had been divested of jurisdiction over the traffic citation by virtue of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 16.17, (12) on November 20, 1995, plaintiff sent a second notice to Bexar County informing the County of what plaintiff perceived to be the unlawful acts of Municipal Court Judge Smith, (13) On December 13, 1995, plaintiff received another traffic citation from another unidentified San Antonio Police Officer, (14) plaintiff again executed a promise to appear, (15) that same date, plaintiff served the San Antonio Municipal Court with a separate notice indicating that he would appear, (16) on December 27, 1995, plaintiff appeared before San Antonio Municipal Court Judge Russell Mitchell and demanded that Judge Mitchell "magistrate" plaintiff, (17) Judge Mitchell refused to "magistrate" plaintiff, (18) when plaintiff refused to enter a plea, Judge Mitchell entered a plea for plaintiff, ordered plaintiff to appear in his court for trial, warned plaintiff that a failure to appear would result in plaintiff's arrest, and told plaintiff he was free to go, (19) on or about January 17, 1996, San Antonio Police Captain Richard Gleinser sent plaintiff a threatening letter and notice relating to traffic citation M299173 stating that a warrant for plaintiff's arrest had been issued and that plaintiff had to appear immediately at Municipal Court to pay warrant fines, and (20) on January 17, 1996, Gleinser sent plaintiff a second threatening letter and notice relating to traffic citation M239070 informing plaintiff that another warrant had been issued for plaintiff arrest and that plaintiff had to immediately appear and pay the warrant fines.5

On September 26, 1996, "the County defendants," i.e., defendants Krier, Tejeda, Elizondo, Bielstein, and Novak filed their original answer, in which they asserted the defense of qualified immunity.6 That same date, defendant Bexar County filed a motion to quash service or, alternatively, motion to dismiss.7 This Court granted defendant Bexar County's motion to quash service upon it in an Order issued October 10, 1996.8 Plaintiff subsequently perfected service on defendant Bexar County.9 Defendant Bexar County filed its original answer and motion for summary judgment on November 5, 1996.10

On September 30, 1996, "the City defendants," i.e., defendants Smith, Mitchell, Gleinser, and the City of San Antonio, filed an answer in which they asserted the defense of "good faith" immunity on behalf of the individual City defendants but, curiously, in which they did not assert the defense of absolute judicial immunity on behalf of defendants Smith and Mitchell.11 The City defendants subsequently sought, and were granted, leave to file an amended answer, which they filed on October 30, 1996.12

In an Order issued October 4, 1996, this Court advised the parties that the defendants' original answers would be treated for all purposes as motions for summary judgment, explained the nature of summary judgment procedure for the...

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