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Jauch v. Choctaw County

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

October 24, 2017

JESSICA JAUCH, Plaintiff - Appellant
CHOCTAW COUNTY; CLOYD HALFORD, in his Individual Capacity, Defendants - Appellees

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi

          Before REAVLEY, HAYNES, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.

          REAVLEY, Circuit Judge:

         Jessica Jauch was indicted by a grand jury, arrested, and put in jail- where she waited for 96 days to be brought before a judge and was effectively denied bail. The district court found this constitutionally permissible. It is not. A pre-trial detainee denied access to the judicial system for a prolonged period has been denied basic procedural due process, and we therefore reverse the district court's judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Upon the word of a confidential informant, a grand jury indicted Jessica Jauch for the sale of a Schedule IV controlled substance on January 24, 2012.

         That same day, the Choctaw County Circuit Clerk issued a capias warrant. The capias reads:

You are hereby commanded to take Jessica Jauch if to be found in your County, and him/her safely keep, so that you have his/her body before the Circuit Court of the County of Choctaw, in said State, at the Courthouse in the town of Ackerman, MS, on the 31st day of January, 2012, then and there to answer the State of Mississippi on an indictment found against him/her on the 24th day of January, 2012, for:
Ct. 1: Sale of a Schedule IV Controlled Substance

         On April 26, 2012, Starkville Police Department officers pulled Jauch over, issued her several traffic tickets, and informed her of an outstanding misdemeanor warrant in Choctaw County. Choctaw County deputies took custody of Jauch and transported her to the Choctaw County Jail where, the next morning, she was served with the misdemeanor warrant and the capias. Jauch cleared the misdemeanor warrant within a few days. She nonetheless remained detained on the capias, and her requests to be brought before a judge and allowed to post bail were denied. Jail officials informed Jauch that Sheriff Halford had confirmed she could not be taken before a judge until August when the next term of the Circuit Court commenced. When a friend of Jauch's reached the sheriff on the telephone, he told her the same thing. Jauch's protestations of innocence were ineffectual.

         Ninety-six days after being taken into custody, Jauch's case moved forward. She received an appointed attorney, waived formal arraignment, had bail set, and had a trial date set. Six days later, on August 6, 2012, she posted bail. Before the end of the month, the prosecutor reviewed the evidence against Jauch and promptly moved to dismiss the charge. On January 29, 2013, the Circuit Court of Choctaw County entered the dismissal. It is undisputed that Jauch was innocent all along, as she had claimed from behind bars.

         On April 21, 2015, Jauch sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Sheriff Halford and Choctaw County caused her constitutional deprivations. Both parties eventually moved for summary judgment. The district court observed that Jauch asserted violations of the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments but treated the Fourteenth Amendment claims (procedural and substantive due process) as an attack on the original probable cause determination underlying her arrest. It ruled against her on the basis of procedural due process because state law renders the probable cause determination of a grand jury conclusive, meaning Jauch was not entitled to a hearing (like an initial appearance or preliminary hearing) where she could challenge that determination. With respect to substantive due process, the district court found the Fourth Amendment applied more squarely to such a claim, and then found the Fourth Amendment was not violated because the undisputedly valid probable cause determination supported the arrest. We note that Jauch never alleged a Fourth Amendment violation nor sought to challenge the probable cause determination made by the grand jury.

         The district court also ruled against Jauch with respect to her Sixth and Eighth Amendment claims. It further ruled that Choctaw County was not subject to municipal liability under Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978), and that Sheriff Halford was entitled to qualified immunity. Based on these rulings, the district court denied Jauch's motion for summary judgment and ordered judgment in favor of the defendants. Jauch timely appealed.

         II. OUR REVIEW

         "We review a district court judgment on cross-motions for summary judgment de novo." Cedyco Corp. v. PetroQuest Energy, LLC, 497 F.3d 485, 488 (5th Cir. 2007). Each party's motion is considered "independently, viewing the evidence and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Green v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 754 F.3d 324, 329 (5th Cir. 2014). "Summary judgment is appropriate when 'there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)).


         We address only the Fourteenth Amendment and hold that this excessive detention, depriving Jauch of liberty without legal or due process, violated that Amendment; for that reason, her motion for summary judgment should have been granted as to the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim.

         A. Moving Beyond the Fourth Amendment

         The district court treated Jauch's due process claim as a Fourth Amendment claim, reasoning that "[b]ecause an arrest is a seizure, . . . the more particularized Fourth Amendment analysis [is] appropriate" and concluding that because probable cause supported Jauch's arrest, there was no constitutional violation. This analysis dooms Jauch's claim and seemingly means the Constitution is not violated by prolonged pretrial detention so long as the arrest is supported by probable cause.

         While this appeal was pending, the Supreme Court issued Manuel v. City of Joliet, which held that a defendant seized without probable cause could challenge his pretrial detention under the Fourth Amendment. 137 S.Ct. 911, 917 (2017). Manuel does not address the availability of due process challenges after a legal seizure, and it cannot be read to mean, as Defendants contend, that only the Fourth Amendment is available to pre-trial detainees. For example, even when the detention is legal, a pre-trial detainee subjected to excessive force properly invokes the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g., Brothers v. Klevenhagen, 28 F.3d 452, 455 (5th Cir. 1994). So, too, may a legally seized pre-trial ...

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