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Gibson v. Beer

November 13, 2008

ROBERT D. GIBSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
R.W. BEER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION BY DISTRICT JUDGE OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S AUGUST 28, 2008 ORDER RE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL (Doc. 306)

On August 28, 2008, Magistrate Judge Beck issued an Order, (Doc. 296; hereafter the August 28 Order), granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff's motions to compel, (Docs. 206 & 207).

Pursuant to the "mailbox rule," Plaintiff timely filed a request for reconsideration by the District Court of the August 28 Order.

A request for reconsideration by the District Court of a Magistrate Judge's Order is reviewed under the "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Rule 72-303(f), Local Rules of Practice. The "clearly erroneous" standard applies to a Magistrate Judge's findings of fact. Concrete Pipe & Prods. v. Constr. Laborers Pension Trust, 508 U.S. 602, 623 (1993). "A findings is 'clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing [body] on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." Id. at 622. The "contrary to law" standard allows independent, plenary review of purely legal determinations by the Magistrate Judge. FDIC v. Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Md., 196 F.R.D. 375, 378 (S.D.Cal.2000); Haines v. Liggett Group, Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 91 (3rd Cir.1992). "An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure." DeFazio v. Wallis, 459 F.Supp.2d 159, 163 (E.D.N.Y.2006).

1. Personnel Files

Plaintiff's motions to compel sought production of personnel files and Internal Affairs histories of Defendants and other officers involved in the March 31, 2004 incident. The August 28, 2008 Order ruled:

This request is duplicative of a prior motion to compel filed by plaintiff on October 22, 2007. On May 30, 2008, the Court issued an order granting the motion in part and ordering defendants to produce some of the documents requested. This portion of the present motion is moot.

In his request for reconsideration, Plaintiff asserts that "to date [he] has not received anything." Plaintiff contends:

[T]he Attorney General served a one page letter, stating there was no information, considering this was not given under the penalty of perjury and these are unscrupluous [sic] state officials this piece of paper is a violation of the court's order June 30, 2008 [sic] and a violation of Federal Discovery Rules as a whole. Plaintiff wasn't even given a copy of whatever it was that the Attorney General reviewed to reach her conclusion. The plaintiff again asserts and claims he is entitled to the entire personnel files and the magistrate is in err [sic] in blocking access. Magistrate Beck's May 30, 2008 Order, (Doc. 261), ruled:

Plaintiff's request for the entire personnel files of the defendants is overbroad and irrelevant. Consequently, plaintiff's request must be narrowed to include only documents regarding discipline against the defendants relating to incidents that are factually similar to plaintiff's allegations in the instant action. Further, plaintiff's request must be narrowed to a specific time period. The events giving rise to the claims against the defendants in this action occurred on March 31, 2004. Accordingly, the documents requested by plaintiff are limited to the time period between March 2003 and December 2004. Defendants shall provide plaintiff with the relevant documents requested, if any, within 30 days from the date of service of this order. Defendants may redact from the relevant documents any information relating to the identities of third parties or personal information of te defendants.

Plaintiff's contention that he is entitled to the entire personnel files is an untimely request for reconsideration of Magistrate Beck's May 30, 2008 Order. Pursuant to Rule 72-303(b), Local Rules of Practice, a Magistrate Judge's rulings are final if no request for reconsideration by the District Court is filed within ten court days from the date of service.

Plaintiff's request for reconsideration on this ground is DENIED.

Plaintiff's complaint that the Attorney General responded to the May 30, 2008 Order with a letter stating that there is no information from the personnel files within the required time frame is not a basis for reconsideration of the August 28 Order. The Attorney General, as an officer of the Court, made this representation, and it is accepted. Neither the Magistrate Judge nor the Court can compel ...


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