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Martin v. Cooper

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Northern Division

October 5, 2019

ANTOINE D. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ROY COOPER, Governor of the State of North Carolina, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          TERRENCE W. BOYLE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a variety of motions. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has moved for entry of default [DE 71, 72] and entry of default judgment [DE 74, 75] against defendants Roy Cooper and Joshua Stein. Plaintiff has also moved for a temporary restraining order [DE 85] and a preliminary injunction [DE 98], as well as for leave to file excess pages [DE 107, 116, 117]. Defendants have filed four motions to dismiss. [DE 89, 94, 111, 113]. Defendants have also filed motions for extensions of time. [DE 70, 91, 102, 109, 120]. All of the motions are ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motions for extensions of time [DE 70, 91, 102, 109, 120] are GRANTED, plaintiffs motions for leave to file excess pages [DE 107, 116, 117] are GRANTED, plaintiffs motions for default and default judgment [DE 71, 72, 74, 75] are DENIED, defendants' motions to dismiss [DE 89, 94, 111, 113] are GRANTED, and plaintiffs motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction [DE 85, 98] are DENIED AS MOOT.

         BACKGROUND

         In May 2018, plaintiff was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery, in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.33, in Cumberland County, North Carolina. [DE 1, ¶ 1]. Upon his release from incarceration, plaintiff registered with the Sheriff of Hertford County, North Carolina, as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.7. Id.5. Plaintiff remains registered with Hertford County. Id.

         In August 2018, plaintiff was charged with violating N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.11(a)(2), which requires registered sex offenders to notify the sheriffs offices in their counties of a change of address within three business days. Id. ¶ 6. Plaintiff states that he did not learn of the existence of an arrest warrant until October 2018, at which time he turned himself in. [DE 5, p. 1]. The charge was dismissed in November 2018. Id. at 2.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, initiated this action in January 2019. [DE 1]. Plaintiff complains about the ongoing obligations and restrictions that North Carolina law places upon him due to his conviction of misdemeanor sexual battery. Plaintiff has named as defendants Roy Cooper, the Governor of North Carolina, in his official capacity; Joshua Stein, the Attorney General of North Carolina, in his official capacity; Erik A. Hooks, the Secretary for the Department of Public Safety, in his official capacity; the Hertford County Sheriffs Office; Dexter Hayes, the Sheriff of Hertford County, in his official capacity; Marty Davis, an officer in the Hertford County Sheriffs Office who is purportedly "in charge of the Sex Offender Registry within the County of Hertford," in his official capacity; and all of the individual district attorneys in North Carolina, who are again named in their official capacities. Id. ¶¶ 7-20.

         Plaintiff asserts seven causes of action. First, plaintiff alleges that N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-208.9(a) and 14-208.11(a)(2) are unconstitutionally vague and therefore violate his due process rights. Id. ¶¶ 103-97. Second, plaintiff alleges that N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.18(a)(3) is unconstitutionally vague. Id. ¶¶ 198-222. Third, plaintiff alleges that he has been deprived of property and liberty without due process of law as a result of the State's enforcement of Article 27A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes of North Carolina. Id. ¶¶ 223-90. Fourth, plaintiff alleges that the continued enforcement of Article 27A deprives him of his substantive due process rights. Id. ¶¶ 291-316. Fifth, plaintiff alleges that the in-person reporting requirements of certain subsections of Article 27A and information-verification requirements of other subsections subject him to unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Id. ¶¶ 317-43. Sixth, plaintiff alleges that Article 27A requires him to involuntarily disclose information to law enforcement that could be used to charge and prosecute him and therefore violates his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Id. ¶¶ 344-68. Finally, plaintiff alleges that Article 27A's requirements amount to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, for the misdemeanor sexual battery charge of which he was convicted. Id. ¶¶ 369-461. Plaintiff therefore asks this Court to declare Article 27A, as well as many of its subsections, unconstitutional and to enjoin defendants from enforcing it.

         On March 27, 2019, plaintiff moved for entry of default against defendants Cooper and Stein, arguing that defendants Cooper and Stein had been served with the complaint on March 4 and March 5 and neither had filed a responsive pleading within 21 days. [DE 71, 72]. On the same day, plaintiff moved for entry of default judgment against defendants Cooper and Stein. [DE 74, 75]. The following day, defendants Cooper, Stein, and Hooks moved for an extension of time to file an answer or other responsive pleading to plaintiffs complaint. [DE 70]. Plaintiff opposes the extension. [DE 84].

         On March 29, plaintiff moved for entry of a temporary restraining order under Rule 65(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [DE 85]. Plaintiff asks this Court to prevent defendants from enforcing N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.9(e), which requires a registered person who "changes an online identifier, or obtains a new online identifier . . . within 10 days, [to] report in person to the sheriff of the county with whom the person is registered to provide the new or changed online identifier information to the sheriff." Plaintiff specifically argues that he would like to create an online log-in to use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program, but does not wish to appear in-person at the Hertford County Sheriffs Office to report his new PACER login. [DE 86, p. 6].

         In April 2019, the Hertford County Sheriffs Office moved to dismiss plaintiffs complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that the Sheriffs Office is not a legal entity that is subject to suit. [DE 85]. Plaintiff responded in opposition to dismissal, arguing that the Sheriffs Office is an unincorporated organization subject to suit under N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-69.1. [DE 100]. Around the same time, defendants Davis and Hayes moved for an extension of time to file a responsive pleading. [DE 91]. Again, plaintiff responded in opposition. [DE 93].

         Defendants Cooper, Stein, and Hooks also moved to dismiss plaintiffs complaint under Rules 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6) in April. [DE 94]. Defendants argue that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them and that plaintiff has otherwise failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [DE 95]. Plaintiff has moved for leave to file excess pages in response to the motion to dismiss [DE 107] and has responded in opposition to dismissal [DE 108].

         Plaintiff has also moved for a preliminary injunction to prevent defendants from enforcing N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.9A, which requires individuals with reportable convictions to verify their personal information semi-annually. [DE 98]. Defendants Cooper, Hooks, and Stein moved for an extension of time to file a response to plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction [DE 109], but no response has yet been filed.

         The district attorney defendants also moved for a second extension of time to file a responsive pleading [DE 102], after their first extension was granted in March [DE 67]. In May, the district attorney defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs complaint under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), arguing that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and that plaintiff has otherwise failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [DE 111]. Shortly thereafter, defendants Davis and Hayes moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. [DE 113]. Plaintiff moved for leave to file excess pages in response to both motions to dismiss [DE 116, 117], then responded in opposition to dismissal [DE 118, 119]. Defendants Davis and Hayes have moved for an extension of time to file a reply to plaintiffs response, requesting an extension until July 2, but no reply has yet been filed. [DE 120]. All of the pending motions are now ripe for disposition.

         DISCUSSION

         At the outset, for good cause shown, all of the defendants' motions for extensions of time [DE 70, 91, 102, 109, 120] are granted. Plaintiffs repeated contentions that defendants have not demonstrated good cause for their requests are unpersuasive. Because the motion to dismiss filed by defendants Cooper, Stein, and Hooks is therefore timely, plaintiffs motions for entry of default and default judgment against defendants Cooper and Stein are denied. Also, for good cause shown, plaintiffs motions for leave to file excess pages are granted.

         The Court now turns to the motions to dismiss. Defendants have moved to dismiss plaintiffs complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), and 12(b)(6).

         The district attorney defendants have moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), arguing that the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs claims against them. The existence of subject-matter jurisdiction is a threshold question that a court must address before considering a case's merits. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't,523 U.S. 83');">523 U.S. 83, 88-89 (1998). "Subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be forfeited or waived and should be considered when fairly in doubt." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662');">556 U.S. 662, 671 (2009) (citation omitted). When subject-matter jurisdiction is challenged, the plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction to survive the motion. Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co.,166 F.3d 642, 647-50 (4th Cir. 1999). When a facial challenge to subject-matter jurisdiction is raised, the facts alleged by the plaintiff in the complaint are taken as true, "and the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke ...


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