Maney v. Ratcliff

Decision Date03 September 1975
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 75-C-1.
Citation399 F. Supp. 760
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Wisconsin
PartiesRonald Lee MANEY, Plaintiff, v. Rudolph E. RATCLIFF et al., Defendants.



David A. Melnick, Milwaukee, Wis., for plaintiff.

Reuben W. Peterson, Jr., Milwaukee, Wis., for defendants Ratcliff and Welborn.

David M. Miller, Baton Rouge, La., for defendants Brown and Chaffin


REYNOLDS, Chief Judge.

This is an action challenging the defendants' use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center (NCIC)1 to locate and detain plaintiff so that he could be extradicted to Louisiana. The complaint is based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and subject matter jurisdiction is present under 28 U.S.C. § 1343. Various types of injunctive relief are requested, as well as both compensatory and punitive damages. Plaintiff Ronald Lee Maney has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. All the defendants have moved to dismiss for improper venue, Rule 12(b) (3), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and for lack of personal jurisdiction, Rule 12(b) (2). Defendants Brown and Chaffin have further asserted that the complaint fails to state a claim as to them, Rule 12(b)(6).


The verified complaint states that plaintiff Ronald Lee Maney is a resident of the City of West Allis, Wisconsin, which is located within the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Defendants Rudolph E. Ratcliff and John Welborn are identified, respectively, as the Chief of Police of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a police officer for the Baton Rouge Police Department. Defendant Ossie Brown is the District Attorney for East Baton Parish, and defendant Richard Chaffin is identified as an Assistant District Attorney. It is alleged that all defendants, at least in their official capacities, reside in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Portions of paragraphs IV, V, and VI of the complaint provide:

IV — "In April, 1974, the plaintiff * * * was arrested by City of Milwaukee Police for a minor traffic violation. Standard procedure requires a check of the NCIC system to see if the person who is under arrest is wanted by any other jurisdictions * * *. As a result of the NCIC check, it was found that Ronald Lee Maney was wanted by the authorities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for a felony narcotics charge. * * * Maney, was allowed to contact and retain * * * David A. Melnick * * * who appeared in Assistant District Attorney William Gardner's office the following day after the arrest. * * * Gardner indicated the procedure he would follow since Ronald Lee Maney would not waive extradiction, that procedure being since the charges were rather vague he, * * * Gardner, would write to the authorities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, requesting that they immediately forward the paper work so that the process of extradiction could begin. At that time * * * Gardner set the matter down for two weeks to again appear in his office. Two weeks later, * * * Maney and his attorney * * * appeared in * * * Gardner's office at which time Mr. Gardner indicated the paper work had still not arrived and put the matter over for another two weeks indicating that if by that date nothing had come from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he would release Ronald Lee Maney and decline prosecution. Two more weeks passed and Mr. Garnder sic released Ronald Lee Maney from prosecution."
V — "In October, 1974, Ronald Lee Maney, was arrested by West Allis Police, in a matter dealing with registration of an automobile. Once again, the * * * police discovered by NCIC entry with regard to Ronald Lee Maney, indicating that he was a fugitive from justice. The * * * police allowed Ronald Lee Maney to make a telephone call whereupon he called his attorney * * * who discussed the matter with the police on the telephone and further discussed this matter with Lieutenant Schwigle * * * Lieutenant Schwigle indicated to Attorney Melnick that he had called down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after hearing what happened to Mr. Maney the first time with the Milwaukee Police Department. Lieutenant Schwigle indicated he talked with a policeman named McMillan who indicated that Sgt. John Welborn, of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Police Department, was in charge of the case and would call Lieutenant Schwigle back. At approximately 9:00 o'clock P.M., October 22, 1974, Sgt. Welborn called Lieutenant Schwigle and indicated that Assistant District Attorney Richard Chaffin, of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana District Attorney's Office, was the prosecutor and had told Sgt. Welborn that they did not have enough evidence to extradite in April, 1974, but did discover evidence since April, 1974, and therefore they would extradite at this time. Whereupon Ronald Lee Maney was once again brought before Assistant District Attorney William Gardner who after reviewing all events in the matter called down to the District Attorney's office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the presence of Mr. Maney, Mr. Melnick and two police officers from the West Allis, Wisconsin, police department. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana District Attorney's office indicated at that time that they did want Mr. Maney and that they would forward the paper work necessary to proceed on the extradiction. Based upon that representation, Mr. Gardner did issue the necessary process and Mr. Maney was brought before the County Court of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, whereupon the matter was adjourned thirty days pursuant to Statute, awaiting the necessary information and paper work from the authorities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thirty days later Ronald Lee Maney and his attorney, David A. Melnick, appeared before the Honorable Carl E. Bjork, who after hearing that once again Baton Rouge, Louisiana, authorities failed to forward any materials whatsoever, with regard to the case against Ronald Lee Maney, dismissed the case immediately and released Mr. Maney from custody."
VI — "On December 31, 1974, Attorney David A. Melnick, received a telephone call from Mr. Maney indicating that he had been once again arrested on the basis of the NCIC entry that he was a fugitive from justice, this time in Plattsburgh, New York, which is the jurisdiction located nearest to the United States-Canadian border. According to the Plattsburgh Police, Mr. Maney had been arrested after his name was checked on the computer at the port of entry and is showed that he was wanted by the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police department and was a fugitive from justice. Mr. Maney is being once again held in the Plattsburgh jail, awaiting the thirty day period to have the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police forward the necessary papers for extradiction. Ronald Lee Maney has informed his attorney that he does not have any money to post bail and if he remains in jail away from work he will lose his job."

Following the filing of this action plaintiff's attorney telephoned Ava Assapouriam, the District Attorney for Clinton County, New York. Assapouriam indicated that he had been holding plaintiff in the Plattsburgh jail as a fugitive from justice based on the Louisiana NCIC entry, but that defendant Chaffin had been telephoned and had indicated that extradition papers would not be forwarded. In light of this, Assapouriam did not file formal charges against plaintiff and released him on January 2, 1975.

A hearing was held on plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order on February 18, 1975. At the hearing, defendants Brown and Chaffin filed documents which had been submitted to the Governor of Louisiana, asking that he request the extradition of plaintiff from Wisconsin. Those documents included a copy of an arrest warrant and affidavit dated May 16, 1973, in which it was charged that Ronald Maney had feloniously distributed one ounce of marijuana on February 11, 1973, in violation of L.R.S. 40:966(A).2


Since there is no special venue statute for civil rights actions, 28 U.S.C. § 1391 (b) controls and reads as follows:

"A civil action wherein jurisdiction is not founded solely on diversity of citizenship may be brought only in the judicial district where all defendants reside, or in which the claim arose, except as otherwise provided by law."

As none of the defendants reside in this district, venue is proper only if plaintiff's claim can be said to have arisen in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Jones v. Bales, 58 F.R.D. 453 (N.D.Ga. 1972).

The complaint details that on three occasions — in April, October, and December of 1974plaintiff was arrested and detained by the police officers on the strength of the NCIC entry originating from Baton Rouge authorities. With respect to each occasion, it is further alleged that the defendants failed to forward any of the papers necessary for extradition of plaintiff. Each of the three instances constitutes a separable claim of a violation of plaintiff's right to be free from unreasonable police and prosecutorial conduct. It is reasonable, therefore, to consider where each of the three claims can be said to have arisen in order to determine whether venue is proper in this judicial district for any of them.

As used in 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), "claim" means "the aggregate of operative facts giving rise to a right enforceable in the courts * * *." Ryan v. Glenn, 52 F.R.D. 185, 192 (N.D.Miss. 1971). See, Original Ballet Russe v. Ballet Theatre, 133 F.2d 187 (2d Cir. 1943); 1 Moore's Federal Practice, ¶ 0.1425.2, at 1423-1435 (2d ed. 1974). The operative facts of each of plaintiff's three claims include the presence of the Baton Rouge NCIC entry, an arrest and detention based on the entry, and the subsequent failure of the Baton Rouge authorities to forward extradition papers. While the defendants' alleged acts and omissions occurred in Louisiana, the arrests and detentions occurred in Wisconsin and New York. These injuries are part of the claims plaintiff seeks to litigate.

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