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Jones v. Chapman

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 8, 2016

TAWANDA JONES, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
NICHOLAS DAVID CHAPMAN, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          Ellen Lipton Hollander United States District Judge.

         This Memorandum resolves the "Joint Motion for Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) Relief & Motion To Unseal The Court's Three (3) 'Telephone Status Conferences' With Request For A Hearing & Expedition" (ECF 75), filed by William C. Bond, who is self-represented. Mr. Bond, who is not a party to the case, asks the Court to reconsider its Memorandum and Order dated August 5, 2016 (ECF 71; ECF 72), denying his request to intervene in the underlying action. In addition, he asks the Court to unseal records pertaining to three telephone conferences. See ECF 75-1 at 2, ll.[1] The motion is supported by a memorandum. ECF 75-1 (collectively, with ECF 75, the "Motion").

         None of the parties has responded to the Motion. No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons stated below, Mr. Bond's Motion shall be denied.

         I. Background

         The underlying case is rooted in the unfortunate death of Tyrone A. West, Sr. ("Mr. West" or the "Decedent"), who died at the age of 44 on July 18, 2013, while in the custody of the Baltimore City police. Tawanda Jones, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Tyrone A. West, Sr.; Nashay West; Tyrone West, Jr.; and T.W., a minor child, by Mary Agers, as Guardian and next friend of T.W., plaintiffs, [2] have filed a civil rights action against multiple police officers alleging, inter alia, that Mr. West's death was caused by the use of excessive force following an unlawful traffic stop, in violation of Mr. West's constitutional rights under federal and state law. See ECF 33, Amended Complaint. Suit is predicated, inter alia, on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Decedent's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Plaintiffs also allege violations of Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and assert tort claims under Maryland law.

         The defendants are eight Baltimore City police officers; Kevin Davis, Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department[3]; David Lewis, a police officer with the Morgan State University Campus Police ("MSU Police"); and Lance Hatcher, Chief of the MSU Police. ECF 33 at 1-3. All defendants were sued in their official and individual capacities. ECF 33, Amended Complaint, at 1-3; id. at 25.[4]

         The allegations pertinent to the underlying case are set forth at length in the Court's Memorandum Opinion dated July 24, 2015 (ECF 28), and are incorporated here. According to plaintiffs, Mr. West was subjected to an illegal traffic stop on July 18, 2013 (ECF 33, Amended Complaint, ¶ 12), thereby violating his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and was then "assaulted and battered . . . ." Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiffs aver that, "[a]s a result of the unconstitutional use of force by Defendants, Tyrone West received multiple severe injuries about his body, experienced severe pain and suffering, and mental anguish resulting in death." ECF 33, Amended Complaint, ¶ 37.

         On April 14, 2016, Mr. Bond filed an amended, limited motion to intervene in this case (ECF 59), describing himself "as a concerned member of the public." Id. at 1; id. at 1 n.2. In particular, Mr. Bond asserted that the case is "an example of bad lawyering" by plaintiffs' counsel, id. at 2; he maintained that Mr. West "was not murdered by the police" id.; the suit is "frivolous, " id; and it is "wasting" taxpayer money. Id. In addition, Mr. Bond expressed his desire "to relay to the court public interests & events of which it may not be fully aware." Id. at 3. No party responded to that motion.

         As indicated, the Court denied Mr. Bond's motion to intervene, for the reasons set forth in ECF 71.[5] However, as a courtesy, I permitted Mr. Bond to remain on the docket of the case, so that he would be notified immediately of any filings. See ECF 71; ECF 72. This Motion followed.

         Litigation is ongoing. See Docket. During a telephone scheduling conference with counsel on October 13, 2016 (see docket), the Court scheduled a trial date, commencing July 10, 2017. The schedule is set forth in the Court's Order of October 14, 2016. ECF 90.

         II. Discussion

         A.

         In his Motion, Mr. Bond asks the Court to reconsider its ruling denying his motion to intervene. He explains that he sought limited intervention under Fed.R.Civ.P. 24 to bring to the Court's attention the "widely-shared belief that plaintiffs have filed "a completely frivolous lawsuit" and are "attempting to extort money from the City and State based purely upon an invented and phony narrative of victimhood." ECF 75-1 at 2. In Mr. Bond's view, the Court's ruling as to his motion "presents a clear error of law and manifest injustice. . . ." ECF 75, ¶ 2.

         In his Motion, Mr. Bond maintains that the Court "ignored any analysis mandated under the Fourth Circuit's pro se precedent." ECF 75, ¶ 2. He asserts: "And while the court may be 'technically' correct that movant's action did not precisely fit into a Rule 24 constrict [sic], the court did zero analysis of what constrict it could fit into." ECF 75-1 at 6. Suggesting that it is the Court's burden to formulate a valid basis to justify his request for intervention, Mr. Bond contends: "[T]he court could have, and should have, if they were dissatisfied with movant's purported Rule 24 vehicle, restyled movant's action into one of a simple 'Letter, ' or a 'Notice to the Court, ' and/or some other title that would satisfy the court as to what movant was attempting to accomplish. Movant believes that the court committed clear error and perpetrated manifest injustice by not even attempting this pro se analysis of his action." Id. at 7. In Mr. Bond's view, the Court's ruling "is chilling to the public and their efforts to become more involved in public policy litigation.[]" Id. [6]

         B.

         Mr. Bond relies, inter alia, on Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) to support his Motion. Rule 59(e) is captioned "Motion to Alter or Amend a Judgment." It states: "A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later ...


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