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McFarlane v. Carothers

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

September 30, 2019

MIKE CAROTHERS, Jackson County Sheriff, Defendant.



         This cause is before the Court on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Defendant Mike Carothers on October 10, 2018 [Dkt. 91] and Plaintiff Brandon McFarlane on October 25, 2018 [Dkt. 95], pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Mr. McFarlane brought this action on behalf of himself and the Certified class, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Sheriff Carothers, in his official capacity as Jackson County Sheriff, instituted unconstitutional policies resulting in Mr. McFarlane’s overdetention at the Jackson County jail, in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         For the reasons detailed below, we DENY Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment and also DENY Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.


         Procedural Background

          On July 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a class certification motion [Dkt. 22]. We referred the motion to Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch for a report and recommendation [Dkt. 48]. Judge Lynch recommended that the proposed class be certified, as modified, [Dkt. 51], a recommendation we adopted on March 31, 2017, [Dkt. 61], over Defendant’s objection [Dkt. 54].

         A short time later, Sheriff Carothers moved for reconsideration of that ruling or for decertification of the class in light of Ewell v. Toney, 853 F.3d 911 (7th Cir. 2017) [Dkt. 72]. We granted the motion for reconsideration and remanded the class certification motion to Judge Lynch for a supplemental report and recommendation on the effect of Ewell [Dkt. 78]. In our remand order, we noted that the court’s treatment of Ewell could affect the resolution of the parties then-pending cross-motions for summary judgment [Dkt. 52; 58], which had been almost entirely briefed before Ewell was decided [Id.]. We therefore administratively closed both motions for summary judgment and directed that following resolution of the remand to the magistrate judge, the parties would be permitted, if warranted, to refile their summary judgment motions to take into account the second, post-Ewell Report and Recommendation analysis [Id.]

         On July 10, 2018, Judge Lynch renewed her recommendation that Plaintiff’s proposed class be certified, Ewell notwithstanding, to which Sheriff Carothers timely objected [Dkt. 84]. We overruled Sheriff Carothers’s objections and adopted the Report and Recommendation on September 27, 2018, affirming our certification of the following class under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b) for damages relief only:

Individuals who, from December 10, 2013, to the date of class certification, were incarcerated in the Jackson County, Indiana, jail, who had been arrested without a warrant, and were then held more than 48 hours following the detention and arrest, without receiving a timely judicial probable cause determination

[Dkt. 90].

         On October 10, 2018, Sheriff Carothers again moved for summary judgment [Dkt. 91], limiting it to the Monell issue had he raised in his first motion and abandoning the question of whether Mr. McFarlane suffered any constitutional injury. Mr. McFarlane followed suit by renewing his partial motion for summary judgment on October 25, 2018, incorporating his earlier Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment and all designated evidentiary materials [Dkt. 95]. As of the dates of their renewed motions for summary judgment, the parties had identified a total of 45 arrestees who qualified for membership in this class [Dkt. 42, at 8; Dkt. 92, at 7].

         Mr. McFarlane’s Arrest and Overdetention

         Mr. McFarlane was detained at the Jackson County jail on a warrantless arrest for more than 48 hours from January 5, 2015 through January 7, 2015 [Compl. ¶ 1, Dkt. 92, at 1-2]. Specifically, Mr. McFarlane was arrested at approximately 11:57 a.m. on January 5, 2015 by a member of the Seymour Police Department on a charge of violating a protective order and contributing to the delinquency of a minor [Dkt. 53, at 2-3; Dkt. 92, at 1-2]. He was booked into the Jackson County jail that same day [Dkt. 53, at 3]. During his period of confinement at the Jackson County jail, Mr. McFarlane was never taken before a judge or magistrate for a judicial probable cause determination, nor did a judge or magistrate review his charges prior to his release to determine if probable cause had existed for his arrest and subsequent detention [Dkt. 53, at 3]. He was released from the Jackson County jail on his own recognizance on January 7, 2015 at 3:24 p.m after 51.5 hours of detention.

         The Jackson County Sheriff’s Customs and Practices

         Sheriff Carothers was aware that individuals arrested without a warrant and detained in jail were to be released within 48 hours of arrest if they did not receive judicial probable cause determinations within those first 48 hours [Dkt. 53, at 3; Dkt. 52-17, Exh. 12]. Sheriff Carothers asserts that he, in conjunction with the Courts of Jackson County, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney, and the various police departments in Jackson County, developed the following system of effectuating probable cause determinations for individuals arrested without a warrant [Dkt. 53, at 3; Dkt. 92, at 2; Dkt. 59-1, Carothers Aff. ¶ 3; Dkt. 59-2, Murphy Aff. ¶ 3].

         When an arresting officer executes a warrantless arrest in Jackson County, he or she is responsible for providing an affidavit of probable cause to a judge, or, in limited cases, appearing before a judge to give testimony to establish probable cause [Dkt. 53, at 3; Dkt. 92, at 2; Carothers Aff. ¶ 3; Dkt. 59-2, Murphy Aff. ¶ 3]. If the judge or magistrate judge determines that probable cause existed, he or she will sign an “Order Determining Probable Cause for Warrantless Arrest, ” sometimes referred to as a “48 hour form, ” and designate the date and time of said determination [Dkt. 92, at 2; Carothers Aff. ¶ 3; Dkt. 59-2, Murphy Aff. ¶ 3]. Copies of the order are sent to the prosecuting attorney and the jail [Id.]. If the form has not been received at the jail within several hours prior to the end of the relevant 48-hour period, the arresting officer is notified that his arrestee will be processed out of the jail unless the form is received within 48 hours of from the time of the arrest [Dkt. 92, at 3; Carothers Aff. ¶ 5; Murphy Aff. ¶ 5].

         The jail sergeants on each shift at the Jackson County jail are instructed to monitor the timeframes for judicial probable cause determinations and are tasked with ensuring a “48 hour form” is obtained for every detainee arrested without a warrant within 48 hours of their arrests, pursuant to the date and time of the arrests in the booking log. [Dkt. 92, at 3; Carothers Aff. ¶ 6; Murphy Aff. ¶ 6]. The booking records are checked daily and those warrantless arrestees without “48 hour forms” are noted. The jail sergeants are directed to release detainees on their own recognizance promptly if a “48 hour form” is not obtained within 48 hours of the arrest [Id.] Relying on staff, Sheriff Carothers did ...

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