FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
UTAH (D.C. NO. 2:14-CV-00186-JNP)
L. Shurtleff, (Steven A. Christensen, Christensen, Young
& Associates, PLLC, with him on the opening brief),
Shurtleff Law Firm, PC, Sandy, Utah, for Appellant.
Jennifer Bailey, Deputy District Attorney (Sim Gill, Salt
Lake County District Attorney, and David Quealy, Deputy
District Attorney, with her on the brief), Salt Lake County
District Attorney's Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, for
TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, LUCERO, and HARTZ, Circuit Judges.
TYMKOVICH, CHIEF JUDGE.
Warnick brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 malicious
prosecution case and a number of state law tort claims
against several Salt Lake County prosecutors and
investigators. He claims he was falsely accused of tampering
with evidence that led to the filing of criminal charges
against him that were later dismissed.
district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss,
and Warnick appealed. We affirm. Like the district court, we
find that absolute prosecutorial immunity precludes Warnick
from suing the prosecutors for filing charges, and that
Warnick has failed to plead the rest of his allegations with
sufficient factual specificity.
all facts from Warnick's complaint, accepting them as
true for purposes of our de novo review. Brown v.
Montoya, 662 F.3d 1152, 1162 (10th Cir. 2011).
Warnick served as a constable in Salt Lake County. A
constable is the local vernacular for a county peace officer.
Daniel Herboldsheimer worked for Warnick as a deputy
constable. On August 24, 2011, Herboldsheimer was serving as
bailiff for the South Salt Lake City Justice Court when a
criminal defendant attempted to flee. Herboldsheimer pursued,
and eventually both Herboldsheimer and Scott Hansen, another
deputy constable, apprehended the defendant.
the fact, Herboldsheimer filed an incident report describing
what had happened. According to the complaint, Warnick told
Herboldsheimer that his report did not comport with county
policy because it contained hearsay observations from others,
and not Herboldsheimer's direct observations. In
particular, Herboldsheimer's report made incorrect
statements about Hansen's use of force to subdue the
case concerns what happened next. As Warnick alleges,
Herboldsheimer took offense to Warnick's rebuke. Soon
afterward, Herboldsheimer contacted the Salt Lake County
Attorney's Office and falsely complained that Silvan
Warnick and his staff member, Alanna Warnick (Silvan
Warnick's wife), had instructed him to falsify his
incident report. In addition, Herboldsheimer told the
prosecutors that Warnick had made changes to his
report-something he took to be falsification.
prosecutors were later tasked with investigating this
complaint: Bradford Cooley, Ethan Rampton, and Jeffrey Hall.
Prosecutor Hall also asked Robin Wilkins and Mark
Knighton-investigators for the County-to look into
Herboldsheimer's complaint. Warnick contends the
prosecutors and investigators together conducted an
inadequate investigation even though they had a duty to
investigate. He also claims they "encourage[d]"
Herboldsheimer to provide "false information." App.
9 ¶ 26. All the parties involved "knew or should
have known that the information provided by . . .
Herboldsheimer was false and that Plaintiff Silvan Warnick
had not committed a crime." Id.
while knowing of Warnick's innocence, the prosecutors and
investigators "conspired to file charges" against
him. Id. ¶ 27. And, in fact, the prosecutors
did bring charges-twice. Prosecutor Cooley first brought
charges for witness and evidence tampering against both
Silvan and Alanna Warnick. At this first hearing on March 13,
2012, the court dismissed one of the charges against Silvan
Warnick for a reason unrelated to the merits, and Prosecutor
Cooley moved to dismiss the other charge voluntarily. Warnick
alleges Prosecutor Cooley moved to dismiss the charge because
he "suspected that the Judge would dismiss that charge
as well, because there was insufficient evidence to support
the State's burden of proof." Id. 11 ¶
33. As for Alanna Warnick-office manager and wife to Silvan
Warnick-the court dismissed the charges for lack of probable
time later, the prosecutors again brought the same witness
and evidence tampering charges against Silvan Warnick. At the
probable cause hearing for this second round of charges, the
court dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause.
both charges were ultimately dismissed, Warnick did not go
unscathed. Because of those charges, Warnick contends he lost
his position as a constable and his reputation was damaged
within the law enforcement community.
Warnick then sued Herboldsheimer, the prosecutors, and the
investigators in the District of Utah. He sought relief
for (1) malicious prosecution under § 1983,
conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights under §
1985, (3) malicious prosecution under state law, (4)
negligence, (5) conspiracy, (6) defamation, (7) negligent ...