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HAMPTON v. GOULART

September 10, 2004.

AJAYE HAMPTON, GREGORY HAMPTON, CHRISTINE HALLINAN, COURTNEY HALLINAN, GAVIN HALLINAN and DEVON HALLINAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
JAMES GOULART, KYLE McDEVITT, SAN MATEO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, COUNTY OF SAN MATEO, LOUIS CONCEICAO and HUMBERTO NAVARRO, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge

NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT AND VERIFIED PETITION FOR APPROVAL OF COMPROMISE OF CLAIMS OF MINOR PLAINTIFFS.
(FRCP.17(c).
Petitioner Christine Hallinan, a Plaintiff in the above entitled action and the mother and legal custodian of the minor Plaintiffs, Courtney Hallinan, Gavin Hallinan and Devon Hallinan, hereby notifies the Court that the above matter has been settled through voluntary mediation before the Honorable Eugene Lynch (Ret.) on July 29, 2004. Petitioner requests that the Court approve the settlement upon the terms described below, in the best interests of the minor children.

  This petition is brought under FRCP 17(c), which provides that the Court may make "such order as it deems proper for the protection of (an) infant or incompetent person". Under California Probate Code Section 3500, the parent having the care, custody or control of the minor, if the parents are living separate and apart, has "the right to compromise, or to execute a covenant not to sue on or a covenant not to enforce judgment on the claim" unless the claim is against that parent. (Cal.Prob.C. Section 3500(a)(2). Plaintiff Christine Hallinan was awarded sole physical and legal custody of the three minor Plaintiffs by order of dissolution of marriage dated March 27, 2002.

  Cal.Prob.C.Section 3500(b) requires court approval of the compromise or covenant where the plaintiff is a minor. Cal.Prob.C.Section 3610 provides that in cases where money is to be paid for benefit of a minor under a compromise, covenant, order or judgment and there is no guardianship of the estate of the minor, the court may make appropriate orders for the payment of expenses and fees and disposition of the proceeds in accordance with Cal.Prob.C.Section 3611. Subsection (c) states that the court may order that if the balance of the money to be paid after payment of expenses, costs and fees does not exceed $20,000.00 in value, ". . . that all or part of the money and other property be held on such other conditions as the court in its discretion determines to be in the best interests of the minor or incompetent person." Petitioner requests that the Court order that as the parent with sole legal and physical custody of the three minor Plaintiffs in this action, she be given the authority to use the proceeds from each child's share of $12,500.00 of the total settlement amount of $50,000.00 for their benefit and for their basic needs.

  The Minor Plaintiffs

  The minor plaintiffs in this action are Courtney Ann Hallinan, female, age 11 (birthdate June 18, 1993); Gavin Liam Hallinan, male, age 9 (birthdate October 13, 1994), and Devon Vincent Hallinan, male, age 7 (birthdate May 24, 1996). They reside in the home of their mother, Christine Hallinan, located in El Granada, California, as of March 2004. Prior to March 2004, the children resided with the mother in the home of Plaintiffs Gregory Hampton, Ajaye Hampton, and Gregory Hampton's daughter, Kayleen Hampton.

  Facts Underlying Plaintiffs' Claims

  This case arose out of a domestic relations dispute between Christine Hallinan and her former husband, Padriac Hallinan. They entered into a marital settlement agreement on October 30, 2001, which was incorporated into a March 27, 2002 judgment on the dissolution of their marriage ending their marital status. As part of this judgment the court awarded Christine Hallinan sole legal and physical custody of their children, Courtney, Gavin and Devon Hallinan who were, respectively, eight, six and five years of age on September 30, 2002, the date of the incident.

  The judgment on dissolution ordered that: "All issues relating to custody, visitation or the general well being of any/all of the children shall first be mediated by Family Court Services prior to seeking court intervention. This shall include requests for restraining orders against any member of Wife's household or residence. If Husband violates this section it shall constitute harassment of Wife." This provision was sought and obtained by Ms. Hallinan because of problems related to Padraic Hallinan's repeated violation of prior court orders, his criminal conduct (including his conviction and incarceration in 2001 for child endangerment and drug related offenses), and his repeated abuse of process by obtaining (exparte) and threatening to obtain frivolous temporary restraining orders to disrupt Ms. Hallinan and the Hallinan children while they resided together with plaintiff Gregory Hampton and his children at 530 Miramar Drive, in San Mateo County.

  Approximately one week prior to September 30, 2002, Ms. Hallinan notified the Sheriff's Department that Padriac Hallinan was once again threatening to obtain a restraining order against Gregory Hampton, prohibiting him from being in the vicinity of the Hallinan children without first participating in mediation, in clear violation of the court order.

  On September 30, 2002 at approximately 8:10 p.m., defendants Conceicao and Navarro entered the property upon which plaintiffs' two story residence was located. They walked up to the front door at which time one of them then pounded on the door causing enough noise to startle all inside. At the time, all of the plaintiffs were upstairs in bed or getting ready to go to bed, except Plaintiff Ajaye Hampton, Plaintiff Gregory Hampton's 15 year old son, who was doing homework downstairs in the kitchen.

  Defendant process servers Conceicao and Navarro misrepresented themselves as "officers of the court" and told Mr. Hampton they wanted to speak to him. Gregory was aware that Padriac Hallinan had recently threatened to obtain a TRO and have it served on him in violation of the above-mentioned March 27, 2002, court order and as a result he suspected defendants Conceicao and Navarro were then attempting to serve such an illegally obtained TRO (which they were). He decided not to accept service of any papers from the process servers and refused to open the door despite their insistence that he do so. Because Conceicao and Navarro persisted in insisting that he open the door, he told them to leave his property and when they refused to do so told them he was going to call the Sheriff's Office to have them removed for trespassing. Conceicao and Navarro responded stating they would also contact the Sheriff's Office.

  Gregory Hampton called the Sheriff's Office a minute or so later and explained process servers were on his property without his consent and were refusing to leave. He was then advised by the dispatcher that deputies were already on their way.

  From the time that the process servers arrived at plaintiff's residence until the time the defendant Deputy Sheriffs arrived, all plaintiffs were inside their home and the front door remained closed. The process servers waited for the deputies to arrive on the street in front of the residence, which is approximately 60 feet from the front door of plaintiffs' home.

  The two Deputy Sheriffs who responded spoke at some length with the process servers, but refused to listen to Plaintiff Gregory Hampton and/or Christine Hallinan. When Ms. Hallinan attempted to explain to deputy Goulart that she had good reason for believing that the process servers were attempting to serve Hampton with a court order that had been illegally obtained, deputy Goulart cut her off and continued to insist that Plaintiff Hampton come outside. At the time Gregory Hampton was standing inside his home at the front door with the door open. Hampton then told Goulart he wanted the process servers off his property but Goulart was unresponsive to him and simply returned to speak to the process servers.

  It soon became apparent to both Christine Hallinan and Gregory Hampton that for whatever reason, the deputies were acting as advocates for the process servers rather than neutral investigators or peacekeepers.

  Hampton refused to step outside his home but continued to speak with deputy Goulart until he saw the process servers begin to approach the front door. At that point he quickly closed the door. Deputy Goulart then told Gregory Hampton he was under arrest. When Hampton asked why, deputy Goulart did not respond verbally but instead kicked in the door which struck Hampton, knocking him to the floor.

  Although Hampton had not resisted, Goulart proceeded to assault him with pepper spray. Both deputies then jumped on Hampton and one of them hit him with his night stick. They then arrested him for making terrorist threats, threatening public officers, interfering with public officers and resisting arrest. Deputy Goulart took Hampton to San Mateo County General Hospital for treatment, and then to San Mateo County jail, where he remained until he was released the next day after posting bail. Gregory was not prosecuted and all charges against him were discharged.

  While Hampton was being arrested, both Christine Hallinan and Ajaye Hampton, Gregory's 15 year old son, objected to Goulart's use of excessive force as well as to the unreasonable manner in which Goulart was conducting himself, including by refusing to listen to what Christine Hallinan had been trying to explain to them regarding the above-mentioned March 27, 2002, court order. As a result both Ajaye Hampton and Christine Hallinan were threatened by the defendant Goulart with arrest if they persisted in complaining.

  Once the deputies cleared the way for them, the process servers entered the residence, gave the papers they wanted served on Gregory Hampton to the deputies after which, according to the deposition testimony of Defendant Louis Conceicao, one of the deputies ...


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