United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER
Djustin B. Pead United States District Magistrate Judge.
17, 2019, the Court conducted oral argument on Plaintiff
Jerahmia Hardman's (“Plaintiff” or “Mr.
Hardman”) pending Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint. (Dkt. No. 29). Plaintiff was represented
by counsel, Aaron W. Owens, and Defendants Roosevelt City,
Officer Pete Butcher and Detective Tracy Bird (collectively
“Roosevelt Defendants”) were represented by
counsel, Heather S. White. (Dkt. No. 42.) After consideration
of the parties' briefing and argument along with the
relevant legal authorities, for the reasons set forth herein,
the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to
Hardman brought this action against the Roosevelt Defendants,
asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Utah
Constitution, based on the Roosevelt Defendants' alleged
destruction and failure to preserve exculpatory evidence in
connection with a criminal prosecution against Mr. Hardman.
(Dkt. No. 2.)
Roosevelt Defendants moved to dismiss Mr. Hardman's
complaint. (Dkt. No. 15.)
February 27, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion to
dismiss. (Dkt. No. 42.) It granted that motion in its
entirety, but also granted Mr. Hardman until March 12, 2019,
to file a motion seeking leave to amend his complaint. (Dkt.
Hardman filed a timely motion for leave to amend, proposing
an amended complaint in which he identified six new causes of
action. Plaintiff's first five claims are titled
“Civil Rights Violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 -
Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, ” with the
third claim described as “Roosevelt City's Failure
to Properly Train Defendants Butcher and Bird, ” the
fourth claim described as “Defendant Roosevelt
City's Failure to Supervise and Respond to Citizen
Complaints, ” and the fifth claim described as
“Defendants Actions were a Malicious Prosecution of
Plaintiff.” The sixth cause of action asserts
violations of article I, § 7 of the Utah Constitution.
(Dkt. No. 29 and 29-1.)
facts alleged in the proposed amended complaint remain
largely unchanged from those set forth in Mr. Hardman's
original complaint. (Dkt. No. 29-1.)
Plaintiff's Proposed Claims
not entirely clear, Mr. Hardman appears to seek leave to
amend his complaint to assert the following claims: (1) a due
process claim under § 1983 based on the use of allegedly
coerced statements from his daughter to initiate the
prosecution against him; (2) a substantive due process claim
under § 1983 based on the manner in which he was
interrogated; (3) a claim under § 1983 for violation of
his right against self-incrimination; (4) a malicious
prosecution claim under § 1983; and (5) a claim for
violation of his due process rights under the Utah
Constitution based on the same conduct giving rise to (1)
through (4). Proposed claims (1) through (4) appear to be
asserted against Defendants Officer Pete Butcher
(“Officer Butcher”) and Detective Tracy Bird
(“Detective Bird”) in their individual
capacities, as well as against Defendant Roosevelt City based
on the theory that it failed to adequately train and
supervise Officer Butcher and Detective Bird (fourth and
fifth causes of action).
Standard of Review
15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states
“leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so
requires.” Duncan v. Manager, Dep't. of Safety,
City & Cty. of Denver, 397 F.3d 1300, 1315 (10th
Cir. 2005) (quotation marks omitted). Courts, however, will
“refuse leave to amend . . . on a showing of undue
delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or
dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed, or futility of amendment.”
Id. (quotation marks omitted).
case does not involve undue delay, undue prejudice, bad faith
or dilatory motives, or a failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed. Mr. Hardman's motion
should nevertheless be denied because his proposed amendments
are futile. “A proposed amendment is futile if the
complaint, as amended, would be subject to dismissal.”
Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir.
2004) (quotation marks omitted).
is no Fourteenth Amendment right not to have an allegedly
coerced statement of a third party used to initiate a
Hardman's proposed first (and possibly second) cause(s)
of action appear to be based, at least on part, on the
assertion that the Roosevelt Defendants' use of his
daughter's statements, which Plaintiff maintains were
improperly obtained, violated his due process rights.
(See Prop. Am. Compl. [Dkt. No. 29-1] ¶ 68.)
Papadakos v. Norton, the court determined there is
“no substantive due process right under the Fourteenth
Amendment to remain free from being arrested for, or charged
with, a crime based on the allegedly coerced statements of a
third party.” 663 Fed. App'x. 651, 658
(10thCir. 2016) (unpublished). In light of
Papadakos, Mr. Hardman cannot establish a violation
of his substantive due process rights based on the alleged
use of a coerced statement from his minor daughter. In the
alternative, Officer Butcher and Detective Bird would be
entitled to qualified immunity as the law was not clearly
established at the time of Mr. Hardman's arrest.
See Quinn v. Young, 780 F.3d 998, 1005
(10th Cir. 2015).
Hardman has not alleged that the interrogation of him rose to
the level of conscience shocking.
Mr. Hardman's proposed first (and possibly second)
cause(s) of action appear to be based on the assertion that
his interrogation violated his substantive due process
rights. (See Prop. Am. Compl. [Dkt. 29-1] ¶
70.) In order to establish a Fourteenth Amendment substantive
due process claim, Mr. Hardman must identify either a
fundamental liberty interest or show that the interrogation
“shocks the conscience.” C.G. v. City of Fort
Lupton, 2014 WL 2597165, at *9 (D. Colo. June 10, 2014).
initial matter, Mr. Hardman does not identify any fundamental
liberty interest at play. See Chavez v. Martinez,
538 U.S. 760, 776 (2003) (explaining, “we can find no
basis . . . to suppose that freedom from unwanted police
questioning is a right so fundamental that it cannot be
abridged absent a ‘compelling state
interest'”). Thus, the issue before the court is
whether the interrogation rose to the level of
“conscience shocking.” In general,
Conduct that shocks the judicial conscience . . . is
deliberate government action that is arbitrary and
unrestrained by the established principles of private right
and distributive justice. This strand of substantive due
process is concerned with preventing government officials
from abusing their power, or employing it as an instrument of
oppression. Not all governmental conduct is covered, however,
as only the most egregious official conduct can be said to be
arbitrary in the constitutional sense.
Seegmiller v. LaVerkin City, 528 F.3d 762, 767 (10th
Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). Whether an
interrogation shocks the conscience is an inquiry separate
and distinct from the issue of whether a confession was
coerced. The “coerced-confession inquiry looks at the
state of mind of the suspect-whether a suspect's will was
overborne by the totality of the circumstances surrounding
the giving of a confession.” Tinker v.
Beasley, 429 F.3d 1324, 1328-29 (11th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). In
contrast, the shocks- the-conscience inquiry, focuses on the
“objective unreasonableness of the officers'
conduct.” Id. Whether or not an officer's
conduct rises to a shock the conscience level is an issue of
law, to be determined by the court. C.G., 2014 WL
2597165 at, *10.
Hardman does not allege any facts indicating that the
interrogation rose to a conscience shocking level. Officer
Butcher and Detective Bird interrogated Mr. Hardman only
once. During that time Plaintiff alleges Defendants were
persistent, lied about the strength and amount of evidence
against him and informed him that things would be
worse if he failed to confess. Mr. Hardman makes no claim
that Officer Butcher and Detective Bird used physical force,
yelled, acted aggressively, or used harsh language toward
him. Additionally, there are there no allegations that Mr.
Hardman or his family was threatened, that Plaintiff was kept
in isolation, that he was prevented from contacting family,
friends, or counsel or that Plaintiff was denied any
reasonable accommodation (such as food, ...