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Carter v. Archdale Police Department

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

February 25, 2014

JAMES J. CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
ARCHDALE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DAVID JONES, CITY OF ARCHDALE, GARLAND YATES, and RANDOLPH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS D. SCHROEDER, District Judge.

This is a putative civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Plaintiff James J. Carter, who appears pro se, alleges that Defendants Archdale Police Department, policeman David Jones, the City of Archdale, prosecutor Garland Yates, and the Randolph County District Attorney's Office violated his civil rights when they investigated and prosecuted him in Randolph County Superior Court in North Carolina. (Doc. 30 ("Compl.") at 2, 18, 30, 34.) Before the court are several motions. Defendants Yates and the Randolph County District Attorney's Office ("RCDAO, " collectively with Yates, "the DA Defendants") have filed two motions to dismiss (Docs. 12, 33), a motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 54), and a motion for sanctions against Carter (Doc. 43). Carter has filed two motions for sanctions against the DA Defendants (Docs. 40, 46), a motion for a contempt citation against Yates (Doc. 49), a motion to compel a Rule 26(f) conference (Doc. 38), and a motion to expedite the determination of pending motions (Doc. 56).

For the reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss will be granted; the motion for judgment on the pleadings will be denied as moot; all four sanctions-related motions will be denied; and the motion to expedite will be denied as moot. Because Carter's Rule 26(f) motion involves a scheduling matter, this court declines to rule on it to allow the Magistrate Judge to set the schedule for this case.

I. BACKGROUND

All of the pending motions concern disputes between Carter and the DA Defendants. The court, therefore, will only briefly describe the alleged incidents relating to Jones, the Archdale Police Department, and the City of Archdale in order to provide context for the allegations relating to the DA Defendants. The complaint, read in the light most favorable to Carter, alleges the following:

In May 2012, the Archdale Police Department investigated Carter for allegedly stealing $2, 400 from his employer, Ornamental Mouldings, LLC. (Compl. at 5-10.) One of the investigating officers was Defendant Jones. (Id.) Carter and Jones have had a long-standing feud. (Id. at 3.) On May 16, 2012, Jones obtained an arrest warrant for Carter. (Id. at 11.) Carter claims that between May 17 and May 22, Jones and the Archdale Police Department subjected him and his family to a "campaign of harassment" in attempts to execute the arrest warrant. (Id. at 12-16.) Carter was out of the state during that time and, upon his return home on May 22, turned himself in to the Randolph County Sheriff's Office rather than the Archdale Police Department, because he feared for his safety. (Id. at 16.) Carter was arrested that same day for "Larceny by Employee." (Id. at 16-17.)

The DA Defendants initiated criminal proceedings against Carter. (Id. at 18.) While they claimed to be prosecuting Carter from July 9, 2012, to August 5, 2013, he says that no indictment was ever produced for him despite repeated requests. (Id. at 18-26.) Carter alleges that Jones and the DA Defendants conspired to prosecute him under a false or non-existent indictment. (Id. at 19-20.) Between July 9, 2012, and August 5, 2013, the DA Defendants held multiple hearings as part of Carter's prosecution; those hearings were before a judge who Carter charges is biased against him because he previously accused the judge of corruption. (Id. at 24-25.) According to Carter, the DA Defendants and his own public defender attempted to pressure him into pleading guilty to the charge. (Id. at 25.) Carter charges that the DA Defendants have used their power to block a superior court judge from ruling on his repeated motions for discovery. (Id.) They also claimed to have set a trial date for July 29, 2013, but no trial was held then and Carter was never informed it was canceled. (Id. at 26.)

On July 26, 2013, Carter filed a complaint in the present case and amended it on August 6. (Docs. 1, 2.) On August 12, 2013, his public defender informed him that the DA Defendants claimed to have a second indictment against him and that the first indictment (charging "Larceny by Employee") had been dismissed. (Compl. at 26-27.) Carter then filed another amended complaint, which is the current complaint, on September 4. (Id. at 1.) That complaint contains multiple paragraphs, sometimes with dozens of subparagraphs, which are not organized into identifiable causes of action. Read liberally, Carter alleges that Jones and the Archdale Police Department framed him for a crime he did not commit, coerced statements from his wife, harassed him and his family in executing an arrest warrant, wrongfully entered his home, and publicly humiliated him. (Id. at 2-18.) He further alleges that the City of Archdale and the Archdale Police Department negligently supervised the police officers, including Jones, who violated his civil rights. (Id. at 34-38.) As to the DA Defendants, he alleges they wrongfully and maliciously prosecuted him, fraudulently claimed to possess a criminal indictment against him, conspired to violate his constitutional rights, used State resources and the authority of their State offices to persecute him, and negligently supervised RCDAO employees who then violated his civil rights. (Id. at 1-39.)

Carter has lodged numerous complaints against the DA Defendants with various governmental organizations. (Id. at 27-28.) He claims that the DA Defendants' actions have caused him great emotional harm, ruined his reputation and employability, and caused him to incur expenses to defend himself. (Id. at 28-29.) He alleges that the DA Defendants have violated his civil rights, both through their own actions and through their failure to supervise the employees of the RCDAO. (Id. at 30-33.) Carter seeks $100, 000, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages from each Defendant, an injunction preventing any employee of the RCDAO or Archdale Police Department from having contact with him or his family, an order requiring training and reforms for the City of Archdale and the Archdale Police Department, and an order requiring that his criminal records relating to this case be expunged. (Id. at 38-39.)

II. ANALYSIS

A. Motions to Dismiss

The DA Defendants have filed two motions to dismiss Carter's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), (2), (5), (6), and (7). (Docs. 12, 33.) Among other things, they argue that the Eleventh Amendment and common law sovereign immunity deprive this court of subject matter jurisdiction over Carter's claims and that Carter fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because of prosecutorial immunity. Carter opposes those motions. (Docs. 31, 37.)

In addressing this case, the court is mindful that it must construe pro se litigants' complaints liberally, thus permitting a potentially meritorious case to develop if one is present. Hill v. Braxton , 277 F.3d 701, 707 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). However, this does not require that the court become an advocate for the unrepresented party. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. , 901 F.2d 387, 391 ...


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