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Hall v. State

United States District Court, Middle District of Louisiana

March 31, 2015

KENNETH HALL
v.
STATE OF LOUISIANA, ET AL.

RULING AND ORDER

BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

Before the Court is Defendant Tom Schedler's Motion for Judgment on Partial Findings Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c) (Doc. 533). Defendant, who was sued in his official capacity as the Louisiana Secretary of State, seeks to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 52(c), all remaining claims by Plaintiff Kenneth Hall and Plaintiff-Intervenor Byron Sharper (together, "Plaintiffs") against Schedler in the above-captioned matter, specifically: (1) deprivation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, (2) infringement of the fundamental right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment, (3) liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and (4) a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ("VRA"), 52 U.S.C. § 10301 (previously codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1973). Plaintiffs seek to enjoin Schedler from further enforcing the challenged election scheme for the City Court of Baton Rouge. For reasons explained herein. Defendant's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant Schedler previously filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in this matter. (See Doc. 290). On August 30, 2014 the Court issued a ruling on Defendant's motion in which, inter alia, it dismissed both Plaintiffs' claims of vote dilution under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. (Doc. 474 at pp. 20-22). In this ruling, the Court also listed the following undisputed facts, among others, based on the parties' pleadings regarding undisputed facts submitted pursuant to Local Civil Rule 56:

• The Secretary of State does not have any authority to apportion or reapportion election districts for the Baton Rouge City Court.
• [Plaintiff] Hall does not contend that the Secretary of State can or should refuse to hold elections.
• There is no contention that the Secretary of State intentionally violated the Voting Rights Act in relation to the subject matter of this litigation.
• The Secretary of State's duties regarding elections are ministerial.
• The Secretary of State's duties regarding elections are non-discretionary.

(Id. at pp. 2-3). Further, the Court set forth in writing its findings from a hearing held on June 28, 2014, in which counsel for Plaintiffs conceded that Plaintiffs are unable to identify any authority imposing an affirmative duty on the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office to investigate the constitutionality of or report alleged unlawful state elections. Counsel for Plaintiffs further admitted that Plaintiffs are unable to cite to any authority granting the Secretary of State's Office the authority to determine the constitutionality of alleged unlawful state elections. (Id. at p. 15).

Trial was held in this matter on August 4-6, 2014 and, due to a medical emergency that necessitated the recess and continuance of trial, on November 17- 19, 2014. On November 17, 2014, Defendant Schedler filed the instant motion for judgment as a matter of law into the record. After Plaintiffs rested their case on November 17, counsel for Schedler orally argued the instant motion, on which the Court deferred ruling. (See Doc. 537). Prior to the conclusion of Defendants' case on November 19, counsel for Schedler orally re-urged the instant motion, on which the Court again deferred ruling. (See Doc. 539).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 52(c) provides, "If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a nonjury trial and the court finds against the party on that issue, the court may enter judgment against the party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c). "Judgment on partial findings entered under Rule 52(c) is to be made after the district court has heard all of the 'evidence bearing on crucial issues of fact."' Samson v. Apollo Resources, Inc., 242 F.3d 629, 632 (5th Cir. 2001) (Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(c) advisory ...


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