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Levy v. Sheriff

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

October 18, 2019

Gai Levy, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Marion County Sheriff, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued September 6, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 17-cv-03090 - Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.

          Before Flaum, Sykes, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.

          FLAUM, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff-appellant Gai Levy brought this lawsuit against defendants-appellees, the Marion County Sheriff and the Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County (collectively, "defendants"), alleging constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for unlawfully detaining him. Levy contends that on two separate occasions defendants violated orders from a trial court to release him from custody. In particular, he asserts that the policies and practices defendants used to communicate with the courts about individual defendants led to his prolonged detention. Defendants moved for summary judgment on Levy's § 1983 claims. The district court granted their motion. We affirm.

         I. Background

         Before diving into the specifics of this case, it is helpful to understand how the Marion County Sheriff's Office receives information from the Marion County Superior Courts and how the Sheriff's Office then executes those court orders. The courts and the Sheriff use two different systems for their case management needs. The courts' system is called Odyssey and the Sheriff's is called Offender Management System (OMS). Both systems use event codes to indicate a court's order, but integration between the two systems since their adoption in 2014 has proven challenging, given the systems' difficulty communicating with each other. To remedy this problem, the Information Services Agency for the Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County developed a special data exchange system to ensure the transfer of data from the courts to the Sheriff's Office.

         This solution was imperfect. For example, when a court ordered a detainee released subject to placement at Marion County Community Corrections (MCCC), the court could enter an "ORC" code (the "Self-Report code"), which directed the Sheriff to release the detainee from custody so he could self-report to MCCC on his own. Alternatively, the court could enter an "SBDOA" code (the "Direct Transfer code"), which instructed the Sheriff to maintain the detainee in custody until he could be directly transported to MCCC for processing and release. After the Sheriff received either a Self-Re- port or Direct Transfer code, it placed the detainee in the "release workflow." The release workflow was a process whereby the Sheriff's Office automatically generated a list of detainees for whom the court had entered release codes. After that, the Sheriff's inmate records staff reviewed the list to verify that each detainee was eligible to be released immediately or transferred for release. Once they completed the verification process, the inmate records staff removed the detainee from the release workflow.

         Because the release workflow could not automatically process updated release orders, problems arose when the courts modified an order as to a detainee who had already cleared the process. The Sheriff's Office knew of this flaw and had reached an agreement with the courts to have court staff contact the Sheriff's inmate records staff any time there was a subsequent order in the same case to ensure that the Sheriff's Office was operating with the most current information. It is undisputed that if court staff did not notify the Sheriff's Office about such updates or modifications, the Sheriff would process a detainee based on the original release order it received.

         With that context in mind, we turn our focus to Levy's case. The Sheriff's Office took custody of Levy after his arrest on an outstanding warrant on February 29, 2016. The parties agree that Levy remained in the Sheriff's custody until March 3, 2016, when it transferred him to MCCC. (MCCC released Levy later that same day.) Beyond that basic timeline, though, the parties disagree about when the Sheriff's Office received an order from the court to release Levy.

         According to Levy, the judge at his first court appearance ordered him released on his own recognizance, and because the Sheriff's Office did not immediately release him after that order, Levy argues that the Sheriff unlawfully detained him. To support his version of events, Levy points to this screen-shot of his case file in OMS, which he contends shows that officer Roberto Juan Rodrigues entered "Order To Release From Custody" as the "Court Event" on February 29, 2016, at 23:50:

         (Image Omitted)

         The Sheriff's Office, however, asserts that the judge ordered that the Sheriff keep Levy in custody until he could be transferred directly to MCCC; it was not until Levy's second court appearance on March 2, 2016, that a different judge ordered Levy to self-report to MCCC. By that time, the Sheriff asserts, the inmate records staff had already finished processing Levy through its release workflow. It is undisputed that no one at the court called or emailed the Sheriff's Office about the second order, and therefore, that the Sheriff never received notice of the second order. Ultimately, the Sheriff's Office processed Levy and kept him in custody until March 3, 2016. To support their version of the timeline, defendants direct our attention to the certified copy of the Case Summary in Levy's case, which shows that the court entered a Direct Transfer code on March 1, 2016, but later entered a Self-Report code on March 2, 2016:

         (Image Omitted)

         Levy consequently alleged claims against defendants for unreasonable seizure and detention under the Fourth Amendment and deprivation of liberty without due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition, Levy insists that the Sheriff's Office "instituted and maintained unreasonable policies and practices that resulted in its keeping [him] detained ... after [he] had been ordered released by the Court and/or after legal authority for [his] detention had ceased."

         Defendants moved for summary judgment on October 4, 2018, and they moved to exclude the testimony of Levy's expert on December 10, 2018. The district court granted both motions on February 11, 2019.[1] Regarding the motion for summary judgment, the district court first held that Levy's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause claim could not proceed because "the Fourth Amendment, not the Due Process Clause, governs a claim for wrongful pretrial detention." Lewis v. City of Chicago,914 F.3d 472, 475 (7th Cir. 2019) ...


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