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Jiggetts v. Baltimore City Police Dept.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 10, 2019

ALEXANDER JIGGETTS, Plaintiff,
v.
BALTIMORE CITY POLICE DEPT., DETECTIVE SHIRLEY DISNEY, LT. MICHAEL FRIES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Alexander Jiggetts, who is self-represented, filed suit against the Baltimore City Police Department, Detective Shirley Disney, and Lt. Michael Fries, alleging a violation of his constitutional rights in connection with a search of his home on November 11, 2013, and again on November 12, 2013. ECF 1. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim (ECF 5), supported by a memorandum (ECF 5-1) (collectively, the “Motion”). They assert the untimely filing of the Complaint, collateral estoppel, and the inadequacy of the alleged facts. ECF 5-1. Defendants also argue that the claims asserted are barred by the doctrine announced in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994) (stating that 42 U.S.C. §1983 claims, impugning the legality of a criminal conviction, are not cognizable unless the conviction is reversed).

         Plaintiff filed a response in opposition. ECF 13. Defendants filed a reply. ECF 17. Plaintiff then filed a surreply, without seeking leave of court to do so. ECF 18.

         Plaintiff has also filed several other motions, including a second motion to amend complaint (ECF 14); a motion to have the U.S. Marshal file a receipt (ECF 15); a “Motion To Name Complaint A Regular Civil Suit” (ECF 16); a motion for default judgment (ECF 20), which he supplemented (ECF 22); and a motion to appoint counsel. ECF 23. Defendants oppose the motion for default judgment. ECF 28.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the pending motions. See Local Rule 106.5 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the motion to amend (ECF 14) as well as the motion to dismiss. ECF 5. I shall deny the remaining motions.

         I. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 11, 2013, Baltimore City police used an unspecified technology to raid his house and his “alleged phones.” ECF 1 at 1. The police suspected that the phones found in plaintiff's house were used to commit the crime of “telephone misuse.” But, according to plaintiff, the phones found in his home were not used to commit the crime. Plaintiff maintains that once it was established that the phones were not used to commit a crime, the search should have ended. Moreover, he claims that “they didn't have a warrant for the phones or my house” and “they never had a warrant to enter the technology into the phones.” Id. According to plaintiff, the police “should have went to a cell phone provider to enter the phone” and “should have also had a warrant from a judge to use the technology.” Id.

         Following the initial search, plaintiff was arrested and taken to Central Booking. The next day, according to plaintiff, the police again “burglarized [his] house by going in . . . a second time without a warrant.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that the conduct of the police in searching the phones and his house violated his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Id. He explains that he is not attempting to challenge his criminal conviction through the filing of this lawsuit, which he declares is not one filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but is a “regular suit.” Id. at 2.

         Jiggetts acknowledges that he pleaded guilty to the telephone misuse charge, explains that he challenged the legality of the search during the pendency of the criminal case, and states that he was committed to Spring Grove immediately thereafter, where he remained for the next three years. Id. In his motion to amend the complaint, plaintiff specifies that as relief he is seeking 15 million dollars or, in the alternative, $400, 000. ECF 8.

         II. Additional Factual Background

         Plaintiff was committed to Spring Grove Hospital on September 5, 2014. See State v. Jiggetts, No. 816180013 (Balt. City Cir. Ct. 2016).[1] Plaintiff's commitment was based on the State court's finding that he was not competent to stand trial. See also Jiggetts v. Hepburn, Civil Action JFM-14-3614 (D. Md. 2014) (Petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging legality of finding that he was not competent to stand trial); Jiggetts v. Ekoh, Civil Action JFM-15-3270 (D. Md. 2015) (challenge to legality of forced medication). He remained hospitalized until June 28, 2016, when he pleaded guilty to charges of telephone misuse.

         On October 16, 2014, plaintiff filed a complaint similar to the instant one, which also included Detective Disney and Lt. Fries as defendants. See Jiggetts v. Johnson, et al., Civ. Action JFM-14-3247 (D. Md. 2014). He alleged that police officers used illegal technology to track down his location and cell phone and arrested him on charges of telephone misuse. In that complaint, plaintiff admitted to making the phone calls in question, but claimed that the calls did not hurt anyone and were simply prank calls, warranting only a six-month sentence. Id. at ECF 1. The relief sought by that complaint included dismissal of the pending criminal charges against him as well as monetary damages. Id. The complaint was dismissed, without prejudice, pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). Id. at ECF 2.

         During the period of time that plaintiff was committed to Spring Grove Hospital as incompetent to stand trial, he filed more than forty civil actions in this court. See Civil Actions: JFM-14-2486, JFM-14-3217, JFM-14-3219, JFM-14-3220, JFM-14-3247, JFM-14-3306, JFM-14-3307, JFM-14-3447, JFM-14-3614, JFM-14-3374, JFM-15-2569, JFM-15-2676, JFM-15-2794, JFM-15-2895, JFM-15-2954, JFM-15-3059, JFM-15-3231, JFM-16-2681, JFM-16-2683, JFM-16-2684, JFM-16-2793, JFM-16-2794, JFM-16-2795, JFM-16-2796, JFM-16-2797, JFM-16-2798, JFM-16-2681, JFM-17-1525, JFM-17-1526, JFM-17-1573, JFM-17-1593, JFM-17-1690, JFM-17-1691, ELH-17-1712, JFM-17-1866, JFM-17-1867, JFM-17-1868, JFM-17-2360, JFM-17-2482, JFM-17-2483, JFM-17-2551, JFM-17-2648, JFM-17-2760, JFM-17-2977.

         Many of plaintiff's other civil actions were dismissed on the basis they were barred by Heck. See, e.g., Jiggetts v. Hepburn, Civ. Action JFM-14-3217 (D. Md. 2014) (dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Heck); Jiggetts v. Bailey, Civ. Action JFM-14-3220 (D. Md. 2014) (same, raising similar allegations of illegal search); Jiggetts v. Balt. Co., Civ. Action JFM-17-1526 (D. Md. 2017) (same); Jiggetts v. Balt. Co. Police Dep't., Civ. Action JFM-17-1593 (D. Md. 2017) (same); Jiggetts v. Dist. Ct. Patapsco, Civ. Action JFM-17-1691 (D. Md. 2017) (same); Jiggetts v. Balt. Cty State's Attorney, Civ. Action JFM-17-1868 (D. Md. 2017) (same); and Jiggetts v. St. of Md., Civ. Action JFM-17-2360 (D. Md. 2017) (same).

         III. Non-Dispositive Motions

         As noted, plaintiff has filed a second motion to amend complaint (ECF 14), a motion to have the U.S. Marshal file a receipt (ECF 15), a motion to name complaint a regular civil suit (ECF 16), a motion for default judgment (ECF 20), and a motion to appoint counsel (ECF 23). Each is addressed below.

         A. Motion to Amend (ECF 14)

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a),

[a] party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it, or if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         Rule 15 dictates that “[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. Where the proposed amendment to the complaint appears to be a futility, ...


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