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Hupp v. San Diego County

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 9, 2014

PAUL HUPP, Plaintiff,
v.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY; CITY OF SAN DIEGO; CITY OF BEAUMONT; JAMES PATRICK ROMO; RAYMOND WETZEL, A/K/A

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO AND JAMES ROMO'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. No. 123)

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant County of San Diego and Defendant James Romo's (collectively, "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment ("MSJ"). (Dkt. No. 123.) Plaintiff has filed an opposition to Defendants' MSJ, (Dkt. No. 157), and Defendant has filed a reply, (Dkt. No. 158). The Court finds the MSJ suitable for disposition without oral argument. See Civ.L.R 7.1.d.1. Having considered the parties' submissions and the applicable law, and for the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's allegations against Deputy District Attorney James Romo and the San Diego County District Attorney's Office as a County of San Diego agency.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

A. State Civil Contempt of Court Proceedings

This action stems from a lengthy history of state civil and criminal court proceedings against Plaintiff. In 1998, former pro-tem Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Freedman (ALJ Freedman) presided over a hearing regarding a Commission on Teacher Credentialing ("CTC") denial of a teaching permit for Plaintiff. (Dkt. No. 123-4, "Drcar Decl., " at ¶ 2.) In 2006, ALJ Freedman obtained a restraining order against Plaintiff and, after its expiration, obtained a second restraining order against Plaintiff in November 2010. (Id. at ¶¶ 3-4.)

On July 20, 2011, ALJ Freedman, through his attorney Deputy Attorney General Drcar, applied for contempt of court charges against Plaintiff based on accusations that Plaintiff sent Freedman threatening correspondence in violation of the restraining order. (Id. at ¶ 4; Dkt. No. 64, "TAC" at ¶ 27.) The primary evidence used to support the contempt charges were the similarities between the threat letters and correspondence Plaintiff previously sent to Mr. Freedman as well as federal pleadings filed by Plaintiff in pro per. (Drcar Decl. at ¶ 4; TAC at ¶ 30.)

In November 2011, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer found Plaintiff guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of five acts of contempt of court and sentenced him to 25 days in custody and a $5, 000 fine. (Drcar Decl. at 4; TAC at ¶ 32.) Defendant Deputy District Attorney James Romo ("Defendant Romo") did not participate in the civil contempt of court proceedings in any capacity. (Drcar Decl. at ¶ 5; Dkt. No. 123-3, "Romo Decl., " at ¶¶ 3-8.)

B. State Criminal Investigation and Prosecution

In mid-2011, the San Diego Sheriff's Office Crime Lab ("SDSO Crime Lab") analyzed four letters and envelopes thought to be sent from Plaintiff to ALJ Freedman. Two latent fingerprints were found on the exterior of the envelopes, neither of which belonged to Plaintiff. (Romo Decl. at ¶ 21.) No identifiable human DNA was found on the envelopes or letters. (Id.) The San Diego County District Attorney's Office ("SD DA") decided not to pursue prosecuting Plaintiff at that time. (Id.)

On December 13, 2011, Defendant Romo received notice of Plaintiff's conviction for contempt of court. (Romo Decl. at ¶ 9.) Approximately two weeks later, Defendant Romo received notice that ALJ Freedman received an additional anonymous letter, postmarked on December 27, 2011, which directly threatened Freedman's life. (Id. at ¶ 10.) On January 13, 2012, Defendant Romo filed criminal charges against Plaintiff based upon the December 27, 2011 letter. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 18.) On April 9, 2012, Defendant Romo filed an Amended Information charging Plaintiff with the following crimes: (1) stalking in violation of California Penal Code ("CPC") § 646.9(a); (2) stalking while a restraining order is in place in violation of CPC § 646.9(b); (3) making a criminal threat in violation of CPC § 422; and (4) disobeying a court order in violation of CPC § 166(a)(4). (Id. at ¶ 22.)

On February 19, 2013, a jury trial found Plaintiff guilty on all four criminal counts. (Romo Decl. at ¶ 28.) During the criminal trial, Defendant Romo presented to the jury: (1) the 2011 SDSO Crime Lab results regarding DNA and fingerprint testing; (2) evidence showing distinct and unique word patterns, phrases, and threats shared by the anonymous letters sent to ALJ Freedman and numerous pleadings Plaintiff filed in federal court as a pro per litigant; (3) evidence of Plaintiff's motive; and (4) evidence of Plaintiff's unique understanding of the law of perjury reflected in the anonymous letters sent to ALJ Freedman. (Id. at ¶¶ 24-27.) The jury returned guilty verdicts against Plaintiff on all four criminal charges with knowledge of the 2011 SDSO Crime Lab results. (Id. at ¶ 28.)

II. Procedural History

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, commenced this action on February 28, 2012 against various public entities and private individuals. (Dkt. No. 1 at 1.) Plaintiff alleges violations of his constitutional and civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 related to the aforementioned state civil and criminal proceedings. (TAC at ¶¶ 47-141.) On July 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint and subsequently, on July 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a third amended complaint. (Dkt. No. 55.) The Court granted Plaintiff's motion and on August 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint ("TAC"). (Dkt. No. 64.) The TAC names ...


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