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June v. Thomasson

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 20, 2016

VINCENT E. JUNE. JR., Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER E. THOMASSON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Vincent E. June's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (ECF No. 45). As of January 2016, the Motion was fully briefed and ripe for disposition. The Court held a hearing on July 6, 2016. (ECF No. 49). Following the hearing, the parties submitted supplemental briefs. Having reviewed all the briefs, the Court finds no additional hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In September 2011, Defendant Officer E. Thomasson arrested June in connection with an assault against victim Antonio Goodwin in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. (Compl. ¶ 14, ECF No. 1). In March 2012, the State of Maryland dismissed the criminal charges against June after he successfully asserted an alibi defense. (Id. ¶ 16). In July 2014, June sued Officer Thomasson under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1988 for malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Compl.).

         During discovery, Officer Thomasson obtained affidavits from Goodwin and his mother Brenda Goodwin (“Mrs. Goodwin”). (See ECF Nos. 27-3, 27-4). These affidavits are hand-written “statements” comprising a series of questions and answers. (Id.). They state that they were taken by Jay Creech, co-counsel for Officer Thomasson. (Id.).

         In her affidavit, Mrs. Goodwin asserts that when the police came to the Goodwin residence to take a statement from her son, Goodwin stated that “Vincent” was involved in the assault. (ECF No. 27-4 at 2). She then explains that the police returned a day or two later with a photo array and Goodwin identified an individual in the array as someone who attacked him. (Id. at 3). Officer Thomasson maintains Goodwin identified June in the photo array, and June does not dispute that Goodwin signed beneath June's photo. (See Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J at 7, ECF No. 27-1); (see also ECF No. 27-5) (photo array).

         In his April 1, 2015 affidavit (“Goodwin's First Affidavit”), Goodwin confirms his mother's account of his interaction with the police during the investigation. Goodwin asserts that a day or two after the assault, he dictated a written statement in which he identified June as one his attackers and he picked June's photo out of an array when asked to identify someone who assaulted him. (ECF No. 27-3 at 1-2). Goodwin also declares that the police told him neither what to write in the statement nor which photo to pick. (Id.). The name “Antonio Goodwin” or the initials “AG” appear next to all eighteen answers in Goodwin's First Affidavit. (Id. at 1-3). The affidavit is signed, and Goodwin does not deny that the signature is his. (Id. at 3).

         Officer Thomasson produced Mrs. Goodwin's affidavit and Goodwin's First Affidavit to June on April 13, 2015. (See ECF No. 45-4). On May 7, 2015, June notified Officer Thomasson that June would depose Goodwin on May 21, 2015. (See ECF No. 35-3 at 1-2). But June cancelled the deposition on May 20, 2015 -- the day before it was supposed to occur. (See Id. at 3). The parties did not depose Goodwin or his mother during discovery.

         Discovery ended on May 26, 2015. (See ECF No. 20 at 2). On June 23, 2015, Officer Thomasson moved for summary judgment. (ECF No. 27). Officer Thomasson supported his Motion with Mrs. Goodwin's affidavit and Goodwin's First Affidavit. On July 10, 2015, June filed his opposition to Officer Thomasson's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 28). June supported his opposition with a second affidavit from Goodwin (“Goodwin's Second Affidavit”). (ECF No. 28-7). June secured Goodwin's Second Affidavit on June 12, 2015 -- almost three weeks after the close of discovery. (Id.).

         In his Second Affidavit, Goodwin contradicts almost every factual assertion in his First Affidavit. Indeed, Goodwin states that he “never brought up . . . June's name or even said Vincent to the police;” rather, it was the police that first mentioned June. (Id. at 3). In fact, Goodwin asserts, the police asked about June so many times that Goodwin finally agreed that June was present for the assault because Goodwin thought the officers must have possessed evidence inculpating June. (Id.). Goodwin then states that he signed his name next to June's photo after the officer “asked [him] if [he] generally recognized anyone, not if [he] recognized anyone involved in the assault.” (Id.). Goodwin further states that the police made him believe that they would not leave him alone until he identified June as one of the assailants. (Id. at 4). As for his First Affidavit, Goodwin asserts that it is “not valid” and he “revoke[s]” it because he “did not knowingly sign, nor did [he] understand what [he] was signing.” (Id.). Finally, Goodwin declares that he does not believe June participated in the assault and the police intentionally led him to believe June was involved. (Id.).

         On July 23, 2015, Officer Thomasson moved to strike Goodwin's Second Affidavit. (ECF No. 32). On November 18, 2015, the Court granted Officer Thomasson's Motion to Strike on two alternative grounds. First, the Court concluded Goodwin's Second Affidavit was a sham (Memo Op. at 8-9, ECF No. 40). Second, the Court found that a Rule 37(c)(1) analysis militated in favor of excluding Goodwin's Second Affidavit as a sanction for June's failure to timely supplement his discovery responses. (Id. at 10-11). Relying on Goodwin's First Affidavit, the Court then concluded as a matter of law that Officer Thomasson had probable cause to arrest June. (Id.). Thus, the Court granted Officer Thomasson's Motion for Summary Judgment and directed the Clerk to close the case.[1]

         On December 16, 2015, June filed a timely Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment under Rule 59(e) (ECF No. 45). Officer Thomasson filed an Opposition on December 21, 2015 (ECF No. 46), and June submitted a Reply on January 7, 2016 (ECF No. 47). After reviewing the parties' briefs, the Court held a motions hearing on July 6, 2016. (ECF No. 49). Following the hearing, the Court issued an order reopening discovery for the limited purpose of resolving June's Motion to Alter or Amend. (ECF No. 50). The Court gave the parties forty-five days to take depositions regarding any facts that would have been discoverable had the parties taken Goodwin's deposition during discovery, including, but not limited to, the circumstances surrounding the creation of Goodwin's First and Second Affidavits. (Id.).

         During the renewed discovery period, the parties deposed Mrs. Goodwin on August 2, 2016, but they did not depose her son. Officer Thomasson explains that he attempted to subpoena Goodwin for a deposition, but Goodwin refused to attend. According to 2006))). Second, the Court found Officer Thomason would be entitled to qualified immunity because it also found as a matter of law that Officer Thomasson had probable cause to arrest June. In his Motion to Alter or Amend, June asks the Court to reconsider whether the Court erred in finding probable cause. Because the Court's conclusion on qualified immunity was predicated on its analysis of probable cause, the Court finds no reason why it would be foreclosed from reconsidering probable cause. For that matter, there is nothing barring the Court from reconsidering qualified immunity, either.

         Officer Thomasson, Goodwin called Officer Thomasson on July 28, 2016 to tell him that he would not travel to Maryland from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he temporarily resides, because he has an outstanding arrest warrant in Maryland. (See Suppl. Def.'s Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Alter or Am. J. at 1-2, ECF No. 55). Officer Thomasson did not move the Court to enforce the subpoena or hold Goodwin in contempt.

         On September 6, 2016, Officer Thomasson supplemented his Opposition to June's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment. (ECF No. 55). June responded on September 16, 2016 (ECF No. 56), and Officer Thomasson replied on September 29, 2016 (ECF No. 57).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Rule ...


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