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Preston Hill v. Clovis Police Department

May 17, 2012

PRESTON HILL,
PLAINTIFF ,
v.
CLOVIS POLICE DEPARTMENT,
MARK BRADFORD (BADGE #5465), ) INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN OFFICER OF THE CLOVIS POLICE DEPARTMENT,
OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY FRESNO COUNTY, ELIZABETH EGAN,
INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY, AND
ELANA ARON SMITH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION (Doc. Nos. 41, 43)

This case stems from the investigation and prosecution of Preston Hill ("Hill") by Clovis Police Officer Mark Bradford, Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan, and Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Elana Smith ("Smith"). Hill has alleged inter alia that his constitutional rights were violated by the Defendants. On March 9, 2012, the Court issued an order on the Defendants' separate Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. See Doc. No. 40. In relevant part, the Court held that Hill had stated plausible claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for malicious prosecution against Bradford and for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process against Bradford, Smith, and Elizabeth Egan. See id. The City of Clovis Defendants, joined by the County of Fresno Defendants, now move the Court to reconsider its March 9, 2012, order. For the reasons that follow, the motions for reconsideration will be granted in part and denied in part.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

As long as there is jurisdiction, district courts possess the "inherent procedural power to reconsider, rescind, or modify an interlocutory order for cause seen by it to be sufficient." City of Los Angeles v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 885 (9th Cir. 2001). Local Rule 230(j) provides:

Whenever any motion has been granted or denied in whole or in part, and a subsequent motion for reconsideration is made upon the same or any alleged different set of facts, counsel shall present to the Judge or Magistrate Judge to whom such subsequent motion is made an affidavit or brief, as appropriate, setting forth the material facts and circumstances surrounding each motion for which reconsideration is sought, including:

(1) when and to what Judge or Magistrate Judge the prior motion was made,

(2) what ruling, decision or order was made thereon,

(3) what new or different facts or circumstances are claimed to exist which did not exist or were not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist for the motion, and

(4) why the facts or circumstances were not shown at the time of the prior motion.

L.R. 230(j). Motions for reconsideration are disfavored, however, and are not the place for parties to make new arguments not raised in their original briefs. See Kona Enters., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 1990). Neither disagreements with a decision nor recapitulations of rejected arguments are adequate bases for reconsideration. United States v. Westlands Water Dist., 134 F.Supp.2d 1111, 1131 (E.D. Cal. 2001). Reconsideration of an interlocutory order is generally justified upon a showing of: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence or an expanded factual record; or (3) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice. Kern-Tulare Water Dist. v. City of Bakersfield, 634 F.Supp. 656, 665 (E.D. Cal. 1986), rev'd in part on other grounds, 828 F.2d 514 (9th Cir. 1987).

DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS

Defendants' Arguments The City Defendants argue that the malicious prosecution claim must be dismissed. First, in resolving Hill's writ of mandate, the Fresno County Superior Court determined that there was sufficient evidence to establish that Hill violated Penal Code § 243.4. Probable cause is a defense to a malicious prosecution claim. Second, the juvenile wardship proceedings did not terminate in Hill's favor. The juvenile court's minute orders of January 19, 2011, and January 27, 2011, indicate that the case was dismissed pursuant to a stipulation. The case was dismissed after Hill and the victim participated in the SHARE program. The reasonable inference is that the termination was negotiated and, for purposes of malicious prosecution, was not a termination in Hill's favor.

With respect to the procedural due process claim, dismissal of this claim is also appropriate. First, the Superior Court has already determined that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Penal Code § 243.4 was violated. Second, the Superior Court determined that there was no violation of Hill's procedural due process rights. While Hill did not specifically raise the issue of Bradford biasing the panel, he did argue that other individuals biased the panel. Since Bradford lost on the issue of panel bias, and thus had the opportunity to litigate the issue in state court. Third, the cases cited by the Court in the prior order are unpersuasive, and Hill has not overcome the presumption of impartiality.

The County Defendants argue that the expulsion panel's decisions were upheld by the Fresno County Superior Court. The expulsion hearing possessed the requisite "judicial character," and the determinations of the expulsion panel may act as res judicata. The findings of the panel indicate that Bradford's report was not "false and misleading." Without a false and misleading report, there is no due process violation. Further, although Hill did not argue about the effects of the District Attorney's Office's ...


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