Smith v. Gonzales, 80-3968

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore CLARK, Chief Judge, RUBIN and TATE; CLARK
Citation670 F.2d 522
Parties10 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 162 James Martin SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Douglas M. GONZALES, et al., Defendant, Thomas P. Lane, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 80-3968,80-3968
Decision Date15 March 1982

Page 522

670 F.2d 522
10 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 162
James Martin SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Douglas M. GONZALES, et al., Defendant,
Thomas P. Lane, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 80-3968.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
March 15, 1982.

Page 523

Andrew J. Ruzicho, Columbus, Ohio, Jeff C. Calmes, Baton Rouge, La., for plaintiff-appellant.

Page 524

William H. Cooper, Baton Rouge, La., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Before CLARK, Chief Judge, RUBIN and TATE, Circuit Judges.

CLARK, Chief Judge:

Plaintiff, James Martin Smith, appeals from a jury verdict in favor of the defendant, Baton Rouge Parish police officer Thomas P. Lane. In this section 1983 action, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Smith alleged that his arrest and commitment to a psychiatric ward violated his constitutional rights, as did his arrest on separate charges of incest and carnal knowledge with a minor. He also alleged that Lane's role in the raising of his bail requirement violated his right to due process. Based on Rodriguez v. Ritchey, 556 F.2d 1185 (5th Cir. 1977) (en banc), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1047, 98 S.Ct. 894, 54 L.Ed.2d 799 (1978), we hold that the district court should have dismissed the claims relating to the commitment, incest and bail. We affirm the jury's verdict that Smith's constitutional rights were not violated by the arrest for carnal knowledge.

The following facts are stated most favorably to plaintiff's position. Smith is the father of four children, including a daughter, Shirley. Shirley, age seventeen at the time of these events, was dating a young man named Steve McDowell. In March, 1977 she informed her father that she wanted to marry Steve. Smith apparently gave his consent, and thereafter hired Steve to work for his company.

On Thursday, May 26, 1977, Smith received a telephone call from the manager of an apartment building where Steve was working informing him that Steve and a co-worker were smoking marijuana on the job. Smith informed Shirley of this incident and told her that Steve was fired. Shirley left home that evening without returning.

The following day Smith learned that Shirley was at the home of Steve's parents, and so he proceeded to the McDowell residence. He encountered Steve when he arrived there, and the two exchanged angry words. Smith demanded to see Shirley, but was denied permission by Mr. McDowell. The heated exchange continued between Steve and Smith. Smith threatened to kill Steve, and subsequently as Smith returned to his car, Steve got a rifle from his house and threatened to kill Smith.

Smith drove away from the McDowell residence and was stopped one block away by police officers responding to a call made from the McDowell house while Smith was there. During the ensuing discussion with the police officers, Sergeant Thomas P. Lane of the Baton Rouge Parish Police appeared at the scene. After becoming aware of the particulars of the matter, Lane proceeded to the McDowell residence. While at the McDowell residence, Lane was informed by Mrs. McDowell of her suspicions that something was awry in the relationship between Smith and his daughter Shirley.

Lane returned to where Smith was being detained, and the other officers turned the matter over to him. Smith was then released. However, he proceeded to a precinct station of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's department and by radio informed Lane that he wished to file a complaint against Steve McDowell for aggravated assault. Lane told Smith he could not handle the matter until the following Tuesday, and so Smith proceeded to the district attorney's office where he discussed the matter with assistant district attorney Michael Ponder, who in turn sent him to Chief Reeves of the Sheriff's Department.

Soon thereafter Shirley went to the precinct station to retrieve some of her personal items which were taken from Smith by the police officers. Acting solely on a hunch, Lane inquired of Shirley whether she had had sexual relations with her father. Shirley initially denied any such thing, but after repeated questioning, and an untrue admonition from Lane that she could be prosecuted for incest, Shirley stated she had an incestuous relationship with her father during the past two years.

Page 525

During this meeting, Shirley's mother arrived. She was told by Shirley for the first time of the incestuous relationship. Mrs. Smith and Shirley then informed Lane of their fear for their own safety, particularly in light of Smith's behavior the day before. In answer to their question concerning protection, Lane informed them that they could try to get a coroner's warrant committing Smith to a secured psychiatric facility.

Mrs. Smith proceeded to see the coroner, Dr. Hypolite Landry, who issued a warrant after hearing her version of the events related above. Lane executed the warrant which resulted in Smith's commitment to an institution.

On Tuesday May 31, 1977, Lane and Shirley met with Ponder, the assistant district attorney, at which time Shirley informed Ponder of her incestuous relationship with her father. Ponder prepared an affidavit and arrest warrant for Smith. The affidavit was then presented to and the warrant was issued by state Judge Parker. Immediately upon Smith's release from the psychiatric institution he was arrested by Lane on the incest charge pursuant to the warrant. Bond was initially set at $100,000, but was raised to $250,000 by Judge Gonzales when Lane informed the judge that the jailer, Willie Wax, had witnessed Smith making vehement threats to kill Lane and that Smith was a dangerous man. Smith was unable to post this much bond, but ten days later it was reduced to $50,000, which he was able to post.

Shirley and Steve were married on June 10, 1977, the day Smith was released. Sergeant Lane served as best man. Lane's explanation for this is that on learning of Smith's release just prior to the wedding, Mrs. Smith summoned him for protection. He asserts that he was best man by default, since no one else was present to witness the ceremony.

Prior to a second preliminary hearing set for October 21, 1977, Sergeant Lane interviewed a young friend of Shirley's, Debbie Edwards, concerning a report that Smith had asked Edwards to "plant" marijuana in Shirley and Steve's car in order to have them arrested. Lane taped the interview with Edwards, during the course of which Edwards finally admitted to having had sexual relations with Smith on two occasions. On October 9, 1977, Lane arrested Smith on a carnal knowledge charge.

A few months later the district attorney requested a polygraph test on Shirley Smith McDowell concerning the incest charge. In the opinion of the polygraph consultant, Shirley was being truthful in her allegations of incest. The incest charge was then submitted to a grand jury and a true bill was rendered. Smith was tried and acquitted on the incest charge. The district attorney dismissed the carnal knowledge charge.

Smith brought this section 1983 action in United States District Court. After dismissal of defendants District Attorney Ossie Brown and Judge Gonzales, Smith's action continued against Lane for deprivation of his constitutional rights alleging that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
149 cases
  • Polnac v. City of Sulphur Springs, Civil Action No. 4:20-CV-00666
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • August 18, 2021
    ...application of the independent intermediary doctrine when arrestee was never convicted of any crime); and then citing Smith v. Gonzales , 670 F.2d 522, 526 (5th Cir. 1982) (also regarding application of the independent-intermediary doctrine when arrestee was never convicted of any crime)). ......
  • Brown v. Edwards, 82-4216
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • January 3, 1984
    ...1453 arrestee is determined by a judicial officer, not by the law enforcement officer." More recently, we stated in Smith v. Gonzales, 670 F.2d 522, 527 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 361, 74 L.Ed.2d 397 (1982): "... a bad faith motive to 'get' a suspect is irrelevant if......
  • Shepard v. Byrd, Civ. A. No. C81-194R.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • February 10, 1984
    ...v. Rowland, 678 F.2d 1264, 1272-73 (5th Cir.1982), cert. denied 459 U.S. 864, 103 S.Ct. 143, 74 L.Ed.2d 121 (1983); Smith v. Gonzales, 670 F.2d 522, 526-27 (5th Cir. 1982), cert. denied 459 U.S. 1005, 103 S.Ct. 361, 74 L.Ed.2d 397 (1983); Rodriguez v. Ritchey, 556 F.2d 1185, 1190-91 (5th Ci......
  • Guenther v. Holmgreen, 83-3136
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 12, 1984
    ...a Sec. 1983 claim that the arresting officer acted in bad faith. See also Whitley v. Seibel II, 676 F.2d at 248; Smith v. Gonzalez, 670 F.2d 522, 526 (5th In a closely related argument, Guenther suggests that collateral estoppel should not apply because the state's burden of evidentiary pro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT