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Martin v. State

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 3, 2017

BRANDON J. MARTIN, pro se Plaintiff
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND, et al. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PETER J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Brandon J. Martin[1] has filed a lawsuit against the State of Maryland; the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles; the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (“MVA”); former MVA Administrator Milton Chaffee; MVA Administrator Christine E. Nizer; Chief Judge John Morrissey of the District Court of Maryland; Administrative Judge Karen Christy Holt Chesser of the District Court of Maryland for St. Mary's County; State's Attorney Richard Fritz of St. Mary's County; Assistant State's Attorney Michael Kane of St. Mary's County, Maryland State Troopers Robert Geyer; David Coppedge; and Doe #6321 (who the Government identified as Brian Tenorio); and St. Mary's County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Flerlage[2] in connection with three traffic stops. He purports to bring three claims for Trespass and two claims for Trespass on the Case, alleging that the State of Maryland, its agencies, and its employees exceeded their jurisdiction and violated his constitutional rights.

         Defendants have filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (“Motion to Dismiss”), ECF No. 10; and Martin has filed a Motion for Stay of Execution, ECF No. 16, a Motion to Restrain, ECF No. 17, and a Motion for Default Judgement (sic) or in the Alternative Jury Trial, ECF No. 18. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS WITH PREJUDICE the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and DENIES Martin's Motions for Stay of Execution, to Restrain, and for Default Judgement (sic) or in the Alternative Jury Trial.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         As indicated, Martin's claims stem from three different traffic stops.

         On May 30, 2015, Trooper Tenorio pulled Martin over on Route 235 for not wearing a seat belt. ECF No. 1 ¶ 7. Martin was issued citations for “Operator Not Restrained by Seatbelt” and “Failure to Display Registration Card Upon Demand by Police Officer.” Id. Apparently Martin did not contest these citations in court such that his driver's license was suspended on July 6, 2015 for failure to pay penalties associated with these citations. ECF No. 10-2 On December 16, 2015, Martin was stopped on his way home from church by Trooper Geyer, because a rear taillight on his car was not working properly. ECF No. 1 ¶ 9. When Trooper Geyer ran Martin's driver's license information, he determined that Martin's driver's license was suspended. Id. Trooper Geyer told Martin he could be arrested for driving with a suspended license, but instead gave him a citation. Id. He also gave Martin a “must repair order” for his broken taillight. ECF No. 1 at 4.

         Sometime around December 24, 2015, Martin received a summons to appear in the District Court for St. Mary's County regarding the December 16, 2015 traffic citations. ECF No. 1 ¶ 10. The summons listed three violations: (1) Person driving motor vehicle on highway or public use property on suspended license and privilege, (2)Person driving motor vehicle while license suspended, and (3) Driving a motor vehicle on highway without required license and authorization. Id. Martin avers that this was a threating communication, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876. Id.

         Martin appeared before Judge Chesser of the District Court for St. Mary's County on February 5, 2016, where he apparently contested the citations. ECF No. 1 ¶ 11. Judge Chesser entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf and scheduled a trial. Id. Martin refused to consent to the jurisdiction of the District Court for St. Mary's County and attempted to remove his case to the Circuit Court for St. Mary's County. ECF No. 1 ¶ 15.

         Although he attempted to remove the case to the Circuit Court, Martin received another summons to appear in the District Court before Judge Chesser on June 8, 2016. ECF Nos. 1 ¶ 16, 18. On June 8, Assistant State's Attorney Michael Kane allegedly offered Martin a plea deal, which Martin declined. Id. Although the Complaint is not entirely clear, Martin states that he continued to dispute the court's jurisdiction and, again, the case appears to have ended up back in the Circuit Court. A check of the electronic records indicated that all the citations issued during the December 16, 2015 stop were resolved by the entry of a nolle prosequi on December 5, 2016.[3] ECF No. 1 ¶ 19.

         On June 5, 2016, Martin was pulled over a third time by Trooper Coppedge and Sheriff's Deputy Flerlage for failing to wear a seatbelt. ECF No. 1 ¶ 20. Martin disputed the officers' authority to pull him over, ECF No. 1 ¶ 20, but Trooper Coppedge ordered him out of his car and attempted to open the right side door of the car. Id. When Martin refused the order, Trooper Coppedge apparently told him he was under arrest and asked him for identification. Id. Martin invoked his “Fifth Amendment right” to remain silent, did not comply, and asked to speak to Trooper Coppedge's supervisor. Id.¶¶ 20-21. According to Martin, Trooper Coppedge responded by saying “he gonna lock you up too.” ECF No. 1 ¶ 21. Trooper Coppedge then told Martin he could get out of the car and be arrested or they would break his window and arrest him. Id. Martin was arrested and his car was towed. Id.

         Martin alleges that Trooper Coppedge lied in his “Statement of Probable Cause” for the arrest when he wrote that “[t]he driver then begin (sic) to read off a piece of paper stating that he was not going to provide me with his license and registration because it was against his constitutional right, ” and that he refused to get out of his car. ECF No. 1 ¶ 23. Martin also alleges that Trooper Coppedge falsely accused Martin of resisting arrest. Id. ¶ 24. The District Court records indicate that on December 13, 2016, a nolle prosequi was also entered as to all nine charges arising out of the June 5, 2016 stop.

         On July 27, 2016, Martin filed his Complaint in this Court alleging that, with respect to all three stops, Defendants “exceeded [their] jurisdiction” and “deprived [him] of his constitutional freedom, ” by enforcing Maryland's traffic laws because the Maryland Code (and the traffic laws contained therein) is unconstitutional as it applies to a citizen traveling in a personal vehicle and not engaged in commerce. ECF No.1 ¶ 2. He further avers that the Department of Motor Vehicles, the MVA, and Nizer were and are engaged in extortion by deploying cameras to take pictures of traffic violations. ECF No. 1 ¶ 30.

         Defendants filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 10. Martin filed a response, ECF No. 14, and the Defendants replied. ECF No. 15.

         On February 21, 2017, Martin filed three Motions: a Motion for Stay of Execution, ECF No. 16, a Motion to Restrain, ECF No. 17, and a Motion for Default Judgement [sic]or in the Alternative Jury Trial, ECF No. 18. The first two motions asked the Court to intervene in (unspecified) proceedings in the Circuit Court for Charles County.[4] The last ...


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