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Baldacchino v. County of El Dorado

October 6, 2009

MARK BALDACCHINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF EL DORADO, JAMIE MORGAN, JEREMY GARRISON, HOWARD JENCKS, AND TONY CAMPAGNA, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

AMENDED MEMORANDUM AND ORDER*fn1

This case arises from the events surrounding the arrest of Plaintiff Mark Baldacchino ("Plaintiff") on October 14, 2000. Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by Defendants*fn2 during said arrest and now seeks recovery under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Plaintiff additionally asserts state tort claims for assault and battery.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56,*fn3 brought on grounds that the instant action is barred pursuant to the Supreme Court's holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff does not take issue with the undisputed facts of this matter, as outlined by Defendants.*fn4 The Court of Appeal for the Third District of California, in ruling on Plaintiff's appeal on December 2, 2005, succinctly described the events leading to Plaintiff's arrest on October 14, 2000 as follows:

"[Plaintiff] tried to enter a crime scene where a man lay shot to death on the ground. The situation was unstable: paramedics were tending to the victim and sheriff's deputies were trying to learn what had happened. The deputies told [Plaintiff] not to approach any closer. They also ordered [Plaintiff] to take his hands out of his pockets so that they could ascertain that he was not armed. [Plaintiff] disobeyed these directives and tried to get past the officers.

He later struggled against officers who were removing him from the patrol car."

Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts ("SUF") No. 1, citing Defs.' Request for Judicial Notice, Exh. A, People v. Baldacchino, 2005 WL 3249943 at * 6.

Following his arrest, Plaintiff was charged with felony vandalism under California Penal Code § 594(A)*fn5 (for having kicked out the window of the patrol car where he was being detained. SUF No. 2. He was also charged with willfully resisting, delaying and obstructing officers at the murder scene while the officers attempted to discharge their duties, pursuant to California Penal Code §148(a)(1), a misdemeanor. Id.

Plaintiff was ultimately convicted on both counts following a jury trial in December of 2003. Id. at 5. Plaintiff's conviction was affirmed on direct appeal to the Court of Appeal for the Third District of California by Opinion filed December 2, 2005. Id. at 9. After Plaintiff subsequent petition for review was rejected by the California Supreme Court (Id. at 10), a writ of habeas corpus was filed in this court which was also dismissed, by Order dated July 2, 2009.

The present action, for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 along with related state law claims for assault and battery, was originally filed on October 15, 2001, well before Plaintiff was convicted of the state criminal charges in late 2003. The action was later stayed on March 19, 2004, pending the outcome of Plaintiff's appeal. The stay remained in effect until May 9, 2008. The present Motion for Summary Judgment was thereafter filed on behalf of Defendants on July 10, 2009.

STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).

Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any,' ...


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