Morley v. Walker, No. 97-16883

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtFLETCHER
Citation175 F.3d 756
Parties99 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5226, 1999 Daily Journal D.A.R. 4185 Earl MORLEY, an individual, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Egan WALKER, an individual, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date04 May 1999
Docket NumberNo. 97-16883

Page 756

175 F.3d 756
99 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5226, 1999 Daily
Journal D.A.R. 4185
Earl MORLEY, an individual, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Egan WALKER, an individual, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 97-16883.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Oct. 9, 1998.
Decided May 4, 1999.

Page 757

Gregory R. Shannon, Richard Gammick, Reno, Nevada, for defendant-appellant.

Jeffrey A. Dickerson, Reno, Nevada, for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada; David W. Hagen, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-97-00056-DWH.

Before: HUG, Chief Judge, and FLETCHER and TROTT, Circuit Judges.

FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:

Egan Walker, a deputy district attorney for Washoe County, Nevada, appeals the

Page 758

district court's denial of his motion to dismiss a civil rights action filed against him by Earl Morley, a pastor at the Temple Baptist Church in Nevada. In his § 1983 action, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Morley alleged that Walker arrested him without probable cause and acted improperly at several points in the ensuing investigation. Walker claims that he is protected by absolute and qualified immunity. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm. We agree with the district court that dismissal at the pleading stage is inappropriate.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND and PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

Earl Morley ("Morley") is a pastor at the Temple Baptist Church in Nevada. Egan Walker ("Walker") is a deputy district attorney for Washoe County, Nevada. In April 1996, Walker prosecuted Ronald Carlton Large, Jr., ("Large") a resident of Sparks, Nevada. Large is an acquaintance of Morley's. Large was charged with several counts of lewdness with a child under the age of fourteen, indecent exposure, and possession of a controlled substance. Ultimately, Large pled guilty to the possession charge; a jury found him guilty on the remaining charges.

Pastor Morley visited Large several times in jail prior to Large's trial and acted as a witness in Large's trial. Morley is a neighbor of Large's child victims, and all of the victims attended either Bible study or Sunday services at Pastor Morley's church. At Large's trial, Morley testified that he had contacted the families of two of Large's child victims. 1 One victim claimed that Morley visited her home and called her a liar for her allegations against Large.

Morley was arrested on May 2, 1996, and charged with two counts of intimidating a witness in violation of NRS 199.240. 2 Walker's affidavit for an arrest warrant described the circumstances of Morley's involvement in Large's trial and the grounds for Morley's arrest. Specifically, Walker's affidavit alleged that Morley attempted to persuade one mother to tell her child to "tell the truth" and to agree to allow Large to plead guilty to lesser crimes, and pressured another family to speak to their daughter because Morley believed the 10-year old victim was lying about being molested by Large.

At a preliminary hearing, the Sparks Justice court determined that probable cause existed and bound Morley over for trial. Morley did not appeal this determination.

On January 27, 1997, Morley filed a § 1983 action against Walker alleging multiple civil rights violations. Specifically, Morley alleged that Walker "functioned out of personal animus;" executed an oath in support of an arrest warrant knowing that the warrant was unsupported by probable cause and that there was no evidence to support the elements of the charged crime; failed to present new, exculpatory evidence at the probable cause hearing; introduced testimony about Morley's contact with the child victims without reasonable investigation; improperly used statements that Morley made during his testimony in Large's trial; failed to dismiss the charges after learning new information that undermined the credibility of the alleged victims; and that his preliminary hearing did not provide a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue of probable cause.

Page 759

Walker moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that all of Morley's claims were barred by absolute or qualified immunity. The district court refused to dismiss the case, concluding that "[w]hether or not these functions [alleged in plaintiff's complaint] are traditionally prosecutorial, if they combine to raise [a] doubt regarding the existence of probable cause at the time the arrest warrant issued, plaintiff has stated a claim...." Walker timely appealed.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review de novo the district court's refusal to grant immunity at the pleading stage in a § 1983 action. See Elder v. Holloway, 510 U.S. 510, 516, 114 S.Ct. 1019, 127 L.Ed.2d 344 (1994). Although the denial of a 12(b)(6) motion is not ordinarily appealable, the denial of a claim for immunity is appealable before final judgment under the collateral order doctrine. Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526, 105 S.Ct. 2806, 86 L.Ed.2d 411 (1985) (recognizing that immunity from suit is more than a mere defense to liability). To determine immunity, we must accept the allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true. Kalina v. Fletcher, 522 U.S. 118, 118 S.Ct. 502, 505, 139 L.Ed.2d 471 (1997); Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 261, 113 S.Ct. 2606, 125 L.Ed.2d 209 (1993). The official seeking immunity bears the burden of demonstrating that immunity attaches to a particular function. Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 486, 111 S.Ct. 1934, 114 L.Ed.2d 547 (1991). A dismissal for failure to state a claim is appropriate only where it appears, beyond doubt, that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would entitle it to relief. Johnson v. Knowles, 113 F.3d 1114, 1117 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 118 S.Ct. 559, 139 L.Ed.2d 401 (1997); Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

ANALYSIS

Walker contends that § 1983 does not confer a damages remedy in this case because all of his actions are protected by absolute or qualified immunity. Under § 1983, any person may bring a claim against a government official who acts under color of state law to deprive that...

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543 practice notes
  • CB v. SONORA SCHOOL DIST., No. CV-F-09-285 OWW/DLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 22, 2009
    ...defenses may be upheld on a motion to dismiss only when they are established on the face of the complaint. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir.1999); Jablon v. Dean Witter & Co., 614 F.2d 677, 682 (9th Cir.1980) When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court may consider the fac......
  • Gay-Straight Alliance v. Visalia United School, No. CIV.F 00-6616 OWW LJ.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 28, 2001
    ...it appears, beyond a doubt, that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would entitle it to Page 1099 relief. Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756 759 (9th Cir.1999); see also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). All allegations of material fact in the com......
  • Yang v. Boudreaux, 1:21-cv-00148-BAM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 7, 2021
    ...facts necessary to establish this affirmative defense generally must be shown by matters outside the complaint. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 761 (9th Cir. 1999); See Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 974-75 (9th Cir. 2009) (where extra-record evidence is proffered or required ......
  • Davis v. John, No. CV 19-9592-CBM(E)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • September 9, 2020
    ...issue often better resolved on summary judgment. See Kwai Fun Wong v. United States, 373 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2004) ; Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 761 (9th Cir. 1999) (on motion to dismiss, court was "not equipped at this stage to determine whether qualified immunity will ultimately p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
542 cases
  • CB v. SONORA SCHOOL DIST., No. CV-F-09-285 OWW/DLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 22, 2009
    ...defenses may be upheld on a motion to dismiss only when they are established on the face of the complaint. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir.1999); Jablon v. Dean Witter & Co., 614 F.2d 677, 682 (9th Cir.1980) When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court may consider the fac......
  • Gay-Straight Alliance v. Visalia United School, No. CIV.F 00-6616 OWW LJ.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 28, 2001
    ...it appears, beyond a doubt, that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would entitle it to Page 1099 relief. Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756 759 (9th Cir.1999); see also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). All allegations of material fact in the com......
  • Yang v. Boudreaux, 1:21-cv-00148-BAM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 7, 2021
    ...facts necessary to establish this affirmative defense generally must be shown by matters outside the complaint. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 761 (9th Cir. 1999); See Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 974-75 (9th Cir. 2009) (where extra-record evidence is proffered or required ......
  • Davis v. John, No. CV 19-9592-CBM(E)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • September 9, 2020
    ...issue often better resolved on summary judgment. See Kwai Fun Wong v. United States, 373 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2004) ; Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 761 (9th Cir. 1999) (on motion to dismiss, court was "not equipped at this stage to determine whether qualified immunity will ultimately p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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