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Singletary v. District of Columbia

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

September 12, 2014

CHARLES SINGLETARY, APPELLEE
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLANT

Argued January 7, 2014.

Page 67

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:09-cv-00752).

Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, argued the cause for appellant. On the briefs were Irvin B. Nathan, Attorney General, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, Donna Murasky, Deputy Solicitor General at the time the brief was filed, and Mary L. Wilson, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Stephen C. Leckar argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Neal Goldfarb, Steven R. Kiersh, and Edward C. Sussman.

Before: SRINIVASAN, Circuit Judge, and SENTELLE and RANDOLPH, Senior Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 68

Srinivasan, Circuit Judge:

The District of Columbia Board of Parole revoked plaintiff Charles Singletary's parole based primarily on unreliable multiple-hearsay testimony. This court later determined that the evidentiary basis for his parole revocation failed to satisfy the requirements of the Due Process Clause. Singletary then sued the District under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the District bore responsibility for the Board's unconstitutional revocation decision. The district court found the District liable, and a jury awarded $2.3 million in damages for

Page 69

the period of Singletary's confinement following the revocation of his parole.

The District now appeals. The District argues that, under the standards for municipal liability set forth in Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), it cannot be held responsible for the Board's revocation decision. The District points out that it had no general policy or custom of basing parole-revocation decisions on evidence falling below the constitutional threshold for reliability. The District also denies that the Board's action in this case was that of a final policymaker in the area of parole revocation. We agree with the District that the Board's action cannot be attributed to the District in the circumstances presented here. We therefore vacate the judgment of the district court.

I.

A.

In the early 1980s, Charles Singletary was convicted of armed robbery and assault. See Singletary v. District of Columbia (Singletary I), 685 F.Supp.2d 81, 83 (D.D.C. 2010). He received a sentence of nine to twenty-seven years of imprisonment. In 1990, after serving more than seven years of his sentence, Singletary was released on parole. Id. In June 1995, he was arrested in connection with the murder of Leroy Houtman. See Singletary v. District of Columbia, 800 F.Supp.2d 58, 60 (D.D.C. 2011). The prosecution dismissed the case at the preliminary ...


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