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Williams v. Barteau

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


March 18, 2010

CHARLES DAVID WILLIAMS, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
DOMINIC BARTEAU, AND THE PORTERVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anthony W. Ishii Chief United States District Judge

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

(Doc. No. 41)

This case arises from the arrest of Plaintiff Charles Williams, Jr. ("Williams") by Defendant City of Porterville Police Officer Dominic Barteau ("Barteau") for burglary. Williams filed suit in this Court and alleges claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments). In essence, Williams challenges the propriety of Barteau's entry into a garage to arrest Williams. Defendants now moves for summary judgment on all claims.*fn1

For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On December 28, 2005, Barteau was dispatched to 1371 W. Jean Ave. to investigate a residential burglary. See Barteau Dec. ¶ 2. The victim, Ortega, told Barteau that his residence had been burglarized between 4:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and that he had asked his neighbors if they had seen anything. See id. at ¶ 3. According to Ortega, one neighbor, Melissa Williams ("Melissa"),*fn2 "related through Derrald Bowman, that her father, Williams, told her that he had broken into Ortega's residence and stolen money, jewelry, and a $2 bill. See id. at ¶ 4. Ortega informed Barteau that he had checked his residence and that approximately $50.00 in U.S. coins, a new $2 bill, and his girlfriend's jewelry were missing. See id. at ¶ 5. Ortega also told Barteau that he had observed a shoe track on the toilet in the master bedroom and that the window screen had been removed and the window had been opened. See id. at ¶ 6.

Barteau contacted Melissa, who told him that she had seen her father Williams with a large amount of coins, jewelry, and a $2 bill earlier in the day. See id. at ¶ 7. Melissa told Barteau that when she asked Williams where he had obtained those items, Williams told her that he had burglarized Ortega's home. See id. at ¶ 8. Melissa indicated that Williams was not present and had left the residence (presumably 1360 W. Jean Ave.).*fn3

On January 18, 2006, Barteau was informed that Williams had returned to the residence located at 1360W. Jean Ave. See id. at ¶ 9. Barteau requested a records check to verify that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for Williams. See id. Barteau was informed that there were no outstanding arrest warrants for Williams. See id. at ¶ 10. However, Barteau recalled receiving a complaint authorization form from the District Attorney's officer on January 17, 2006, in which charges under Penal Code § 459 (burglary) had been approved. See id.

Barteau and another Porterville police officer went to 1360 West Jean Ave. See id. at ¶ 11. At that time, Charles Williams, Sr. ("Charles") and Melissa (among others) resided at this address. See Melissa Williams Dec. ¶ 3;*fn4 Williams Dec. ¶ 3; see also Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶¶ 1, 2. Charles was the primary renter of 1360 W. Jean Ave. and was the head of the Williams Family. See Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 1. Williams lived in the garage of 1360 W. Jean Ave. See Williams Dec. ¶ 3; Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 3. Williams "was the sole occupant of the garage area." Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 3; Williams Dec. ¶ 3.

Barteau informed Melissa that he and the other officer were there to arrest her father for the suspected burglary of Ortega. See Barteau Dec. at ¶ 11; see also Melissa Williams Dec. ¶ 4. Melissa told Barteau that Williams was in the backyard. See Melissa Williams Dec. ¶ 4.*fn5

Barteau requested that he and the other officer be permitted to enter Melissa's residence to effectuate Williams's arrest. See Barteau Dec. at ¶ 12; Melissa Williams Dec. at ¶ 4. Melissa gave permission for the officers to enter her residence. See id. According to Charles's declaration, a police officer arrived at the house and asked to speak with Williams. See Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 5.*fn6 Charles told the officer that he would get Williams. See id. Charles and the officer walked through the house to the kitchen. See id. At the kitchen/garage door, Charles knocked. See id. Charles asked to come in. See Williams Dec. at ¶ 4. Williams told Charles to "come in." See id.; Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 5. Charles opened the door and said that a police officer was there to talk to him. See id. The officer then walked by Charles and into the garage "without permission." See Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 5. The officers found Williams in the residence's garage and placed him under arrest. See Barteau Dec. ¶ 13; Williams Dec. ¶ 4. After placing Williams under arrest, the officers took him through the house in handcuffs and left. See Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 6.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); Fortyune v. American Multi-Cinema, Inc., 364 F.3d 1075, 1080 (9th Cir. 2004). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and of identifying the portions of the declarations (if any), pleadings, and discovery that demonstrate an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). A fact is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); Thrifty Oil Co. v. Bank of America Nat'l Trust & Savings Assn, 322 F.3d 1039, 1046 (9th Cir. 2002). A dispute is "genuine" as to a material fact if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006).

Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the movant must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the movant. Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984. Where the non-moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the movant may prevail by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the non-moving party's claim or by merely pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the non-moving party's claim. See James River Ins.

Co. v. Schenk, P.C., 519 F.3d 917, 925 (9th Cir. 2008); Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984; Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1105-06 (9th Cir. 2000). If a moving party fails to carry its burden of production, then "the non-moving party has no obligation to produce anything, even if the non-moving party would have the ultimate burden of persuasion." Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Companies, 210 F.3d 1099, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Nissan Fire & Marine, 210 F.3d at 1103. The opposing party cannot "'rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [its] pleading' but must instead produce evidence that 'sets forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Estate of Tucker v. Interscope Records, 515 F.3d 1019, 1030 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e)).

The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587; Stegall v. Citadel Broad, Inc., 350 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Sanders v. City of Fresno, 551 F.Supp.2d 1149, 1163 (E.D. Cal. 2008); UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Sinnott, 300 F.Supp.2d 993, 997 (E.D. Cal. 2004). "A genuine issue of material fact does not spring into being simply because a litigant claims that one exists or promises to produce admissible evidence at trial." Del Carmen Guadalupe v. Agosto, 299 F.3d 15, 23 (1st Cir. 2002); see Galen v. County of Los Angeles, 477 F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007); Bryant v. Adventist Health System/West, 289 F.3d 1162, 1167 (9th Cir. 2002). Further, a "motion for summary judgment may not be defeated... by evidence that is 'merely colorable' or 'is not significantly probative.'" Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; Hardage v. CBS Broad. Inc., 427 F.3d 1177, 1183 (9th Cir. 2006). Additionally, the court has the discretion in appropriate circumstances to consider materials that are not properly brought to its attention, but the court is not required to examine the entire file for evidence establishing a genuine issue of material fact where the evidence is not set forth in the opposing papers with adequate references. See Southern Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003); Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). If the nonmoving party fails to produce evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment. See Nissan Fire & Marine, 210 F.3d at 1103.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION

Defendants' Argument Defendants argue that Williams's complaint hinges on whether Barteau violated the Fourth Amendment by entering the residence and arresting Williams. However, Melissa gave consent for Barteau to enter the residence in order to arrest Williams. There is no dispute that Melissa resided at 1360 W. Jean Ave. Because Melissa gave consent to enter in order to arrest, Barteau's entry was reasonable and the Fourth Amendment was not violated.*fn7 Also, in reply, Defendants argue that there is no dispute that Melissa gave consent to enter. That Charles resided in the garage, which was a contiguous part of the house, did not necessitate the need for the officers to obtain a second consent in order to enter the garage.

Plaintiff's Opposition

Williams argues that he alone lived in the garage portion of the 1360 W. Jean Ave. residence. The garage was Williams's home. The warrantless entry into the garage was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. There is a material dispute between the declarations of Charles and Melissa. Further, Melissa is bipolar and receives SSI checks due to mental illness. Melissa's credibility is at issue.

Legal Standard "The Fourth Amendment generally prohibits the warrantless entry of a person's home, whether to make an arrest or to search for specific objects." Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177, 181 (U.S. 1990). In fact, "searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable." Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586 (1980). "The presumption of unconstitutionality that accompanies 'the [warrantless] entry into a home to conduct a search or make an arrest' may be overcome only by showing 'consent or exigent circumstances.'" Lopez-Rodriguez v. Mukasey, 536 F.3d 1012, 1016 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 211 (1981)); see also Bashir v. Rockdale County, 445 F.3d 1323, 1328 (11th Cir. 2006). The "voluntary consent of a party who has authority over the premises renders the warrantless entry of a person's home by law enforcement personnel constitutionally valid." Lopez-Rodriguez, 536 F.3d at 1018; see also Zimmerman v. Bishop Estate, 25 F.3d 784, 788 (9th Cir. 1994). Voluntary consent may be obtained "either from the individual whose property is searched... or from a third party who possesses common authority over the premises." Rodriguez, 497 U.S. at 182. Common authority "does not rest upon the law of property, with its attendant historical and legal refinements... but rests rather on mutual use of the property by persons generally having joint access or control for most purposes." United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 172 n. 7 (1974); United States v. Murphy, 516 F.3d 1117 (9th Cir. Or. 2008). A third party must have either actual authority or apparent authority in order to give valid consent to enter and search. See Rodriguez, 497 U.S. at 183-89; United States v. Davis, 332 F.3d 1163, 1170 (9th Cir. 2003); United States v. Enslin, 327 F.3d 788, 793 (9th Cir. 2003). "A third party has actual authority when he has mutual use of the property and also has joint access or control for most purposes." United States v. Dearing, 9 F.3d 1428, 1429 (9t h Cir. 1993) (citing Matlock, 415 U.S. at 171 n.7). "The apparent authority doctrine... is applicable only if the facts believed by the officers would justify the search as a matter of law." Davis, 332 F.3d at 1170. "The existence of apparent authority entails a three-part analysis. First, did the searching officer believe some untrue fact that was then used to assess the consent-giver's use of and access to or control over the area searched? Second, was it under the circumstances objectively reasonable to believe that the fact was true? Finally, assuming the truth of the reasonably believed but untrue fact, would the consent-giver have had actual authority?" United States v. Fiorillo, 186 F.3d 1136, 1144 (9th Cir. 1999); see Enslin, 327 F.3d at 793-94. Apparent authority is measured by an objective standard of reasonableness that examines the surrounding circumstances. See United States v. Ruiz, 428 F.3d 877, 881 (9th Cir. 2005). "Even when the invitation [to search] is accompanied by an explicit assertion that the person lives there, the surrounding circumstances could conceivably be such that a reasonable person would doubt its truth and not act upon it without further inquiry." Rodriguez, 497 U.S. at 188; Dearing, 9 F.3d at 1430.

Discussion

Williams's argument appears to be that, because he was residing in the garage of 1360 W. Jean Ave., Melissa's consent to enter was defective. The reason why consent is defective, however, is never expressly explained by Williams. Williams states that there is a conflict between Melissa's declaration and Charles's declaration. However, Williams does not explain what conflict exists between these declarations or explain how the conflict may be material. Charles's declaration contains no discussion about whether Melissa spoke to the officers, whether Melissa actually gave consent to enter in order to arrest, whether the officers actually asked for consent, or whether Melissa had joint access to the garage. Charles's declaration confirms that Williams was the only "occupant" of the garage, but it does not state that Melissa, who is an adult family member and resident of 1360 W. Jean Ave., did not have mutual use and joint access to the garage.

However, if Charles's declaration that Williams was the only "occupant" of the garage creates a genuine issue as to Melissa's actual authority to consent to enter the garage, Melissa nevertheless had apparent authority to consent.

The case of Enslin is highly analogous to the case at bar. After noting that the law enforcement officers knew that the Palacioses resided at the house in question, the Ninth Circuit recited the following background:

[The marshals] knocked and identified themselves to Larry Chance, Shannon Palacios' brother. When Shannon Palacios subsequently joined Chance at the door, they asked her if Bass was there and when she replied that he was not, they requested permission to search the house. Shannon Palacios gave them consent to search the house: she did not limit her consent to any part of the house or give any indication that she could not consent to their search of any part of the house, although the marshals admitted that she did not give them particularized consent to search the back bedroom where they subsequently found Enslin. The marshals also admitted that they did not tell her that she had a right not to consent or read her the Miranda warnings.

The marshals entered the house and began searching for Bass. Two of them, Deputy Marshals Maddry and Kitts, went down the hallway and into the back bedroom. Although the back bedroom door had a key lock, there is no indication in the record that the door was locked. When the marshals entered the room, Enslin was in bed, apparently having just awakened from sleep. Enslin's hands were concealed underneath the covers.

Enslin, 327 F.3d at 791. Enslin filed a motion to suppress and argued that Shannon Palacios did not have authority to consent to the search. Id. at 793. The Ninth Circuit assumed that Palacios did not have actual authority to consent to the search, but nevertheless held that she had apparent authority. Id. at 793-94. The court explained:

Assuming Palacios did not have actual authority, the Government made the necessary showing to establish that she had apparent authority. The marshals knew that John and Shannon Palacios were the residents of the house. The marshals did not know or have reason to believe that the Palacios rented the back bedroom in the past or that Enslin was staying in the back bedroom. A person who identified herself as Shannon Palacios came to the door in response to their arrival and gave them unlimited permission to search the house. Therefore, even assuming that Shannon Palacios did not have actual authority to consent, it was objectively reasonable for the marshals to rely upon her consent to search the back bedroom.

Id. at 794. Additionally, Enslin had identified the presence of a key lock on the bedroom door as evidence that should have undermined the marshals' belief in Shannon Palacios's apparent authority. See id. The Ninth Circuit found that the presence of a key lock alone was insufficient to dispel the apparent authority and cited United States v. Fiorillo, 186 F.3d 1136, 1144 (9th Cir. 1999). The Ninth Circuit parenthetically identified Fiorillo as "holding that consenting party had apparent authority to allow a search of a locked back room when there was no indication prior to the search that the room was leased, the consenting party gave a key to the officials, and there was no sign or other indication on the door to the leased room." Enslin, 327 F.3d at 794.

Here, like Enslin, the evidence submitted indicates that Barteau knew that Melissa resided at 1360 W. Jean Ave. Barteau had been told by Ortega that a "neighbor" had information and that neighbor was Melissa. Melissa told Barteau that she had seen Ortega's stolen items in Williams's possession and that Williams later left "the residence." At the residence, Barteau spoke with Melissa and told her that he was there "to arrest her father." Further, Melissa, Charles, and Williams himself all confirm that Melissa actually resided at 1360 W. Jean Ave. Cf. Enlsin, 327 F.3d at 791.

Like Enslin, the consent to enter by Melissa was unqualified.*fn8 Melissa knew that the officers were at 1360 W. Jean Ave. to arrest Williams and she "did not limit her consent to any part of the house or give any indication that she could not consent to their search of any part of the house...." Cf. id. That Melissa did not give particularized consent to enter the garage, just as Shannon Palacios did not give particularized consent to search the back bedroom, does not matter. See id. at 791, 793-94. The evidence indicates that the garage was attached to the house. Charles declared that, after walking through the house with the officers, he arrived at the kitchen and then knocked on the "kitchen/garage door." Charles Williams, Sr. Dec. ¶ 5. Melissa's declaration also suggests that the garage is part of the residence/1360 W. Jean Ave. since she declares that, after giving permission to the officers to "enter my home," the officers "came in and arrested my father." Melissa Williams Dec. ¶ 4. Given the description of 1360 W. Jean Ave., the Court sees no distinction between Enslin's back bedroom and Williams's attached garage -- both are part of the residence's structure. Cf. Enslin, 327 F.3d at at 791, 793-94.

Finally, like Enslin and Fiorillo, Williams identifies no evidence that would cause Barteau to reasonably question Melissa's apparent authority. Cf. id.; Fiorillo, 186 F.3d at 1144. Although Charles walked Barteau to the kitchen/garage door, knocked, asked to come in, and told Williams that there were officers who wanted to talk to him, the Court does not see that the conduct by Charles would sufficiently vitiate the apparent authority of Melissa. There is no indication that Charles told Barteau either that Charles was the primary renter of 1360 W. Jean Ave., or that Melissa did not have authority to allow the officers into the garage, or that Williams was the only occupant of the garage.

The evidence indicates that Melissa, at the least, had apparent authority to consent to entry in order to effectuate an arrest. See Enslin, 327 F.3d at 791, 793-94; Fiorillo, 186 F.3d at 1144. Since consent pursuant to apparent authority is a valid exception to the warrant requirement to enter a residence, Barteau's conduct was reasonable and the Fourth Amendment was not violated. See Lopez-Rodriguez, 536 F.3d at 1018; Enslin, 327 F.3d at 791, 793-94; Fiorillo, 186 F.3d at 1144; Zimmerman, 25 F.3d at 788. Summary judgment in favor of Defendants is appropriate.*fn9

CONCLUSION

The evidence is uncontradicted that Melissa, Williams's adult daughter, lived at 1360 W. Jean Ave. and gave her express consent for Barteau to enter the residence and arrest Williams. The evidence further shows that Melissa had at least apparent authority to consent to a search of the entire residence, including the attached garage, and Williams has presented insufficient evidence to show that her authority to consent did not at least appear to extend to the attached garage. Since Williams's claims are all predicated on Barteau's entry into the garage, and that entry was reasonable due to Melissa's consent, summary judgment in favor Defendants is appropriate on all claims.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED;

2. Document No. 53 is STRICKEN; and

3. The Clerk shall enter judgment in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff and CLOSE this case.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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