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Patterson v. Arsdel

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

April 17, 2019


          Leonard R. Berman Attorney for Plaintiff

          Ellen F. Rosenblum Attorney General Seth T. Karpinski Senior Assistant Attorney General Oregon Department of Justice Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          Marco A. Hernández, United States District Judge.

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff Sarah Jean Patterson alleges that Defendant James VanArsdel violated the Fourth Amendment by improperly procuring a warrant for her unlawful arrest. Defendant moves for summary judgment, arguing (1) Plaintiff cannot produce admissible evidence demonstrating that Defendant provided Judge Tichenor with a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest, and (2) Defendant has absolute judicial or quasi-judicial immunity. Viewing the evidence and drawing all inferences in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, a genuine issue of material fact remains to be tried. Therefore, the Court denies Defendant's motion.


         During all relevant times, the Yamhill County Circuit Court employed Defendant as a Pretrial Release Assistance Officer to investigate criminal defendants suspected of pretrial release agreement violations. Def.'s Mot., ¶¶ 1-2, ECF 54. If Defendant concluded that a criminal defendant violated their pretrial release agreement, then Defendant recommended revocation of pretrial release to the criminal-calendar duty judge. Second Am. Compl., ¶ 14, ECF 28. To recommend revocation, Defendant either placed a revocation form and unsigned arrest warrant in the judge's mailbox, provided it to the judge's judicial assistant, or presented it to the judge in open court. Id.

         Plaintiff was arrested January 30, 2012 on theft and possession of a controlled substance charges. Id. at ¶ 8. She was released from custody after signing a pretrial release agreement requiring her to comply with all laws. Def.'s Mot., ¶ 4. While still subject to this pretrial release agreement, Plaintiff was then arrested March 17, 2012 on domestic violence charges. Second Am. Compl., ¶ 9. She was released after posting bail. Id. at ¶ 10.

         On March 20, 2012, Plaintiff was arraigned on the domestic violence charges. Def.'s Mot., ¶ 9. At the arraignment, Defendant argued that Plaintiff violated her pretrial release agreement, and Defendant moved in open court for revocation of Plaintiff's pretrial release. Second Am. Compl., ¶ 15. Judge Ronald W. Stone, the criminal-calendar duty judge, orally denied Defendant's motion. Id. at ¶ 19. According to Plaintiff, Defendant was visibly displeased by the ruling. Id.

         Plaintiff now alleges that later on March 20, Defendant provided Judge Carroll J. Tichenor with an unsigned warrant for Plaintiff's arrest, without disclosing that Judge Stone had orally denied the motion earlier in the day. Id. at ¶ 21. Only judges on criminal-calendar duty were responsible for handling revocation matters, and Judge Tichenor was not on criminal-calendar duty. Id. at ¶ 17. Nevertheless, Judge Tichenor signed the arrest warrant. Id. at ¶ 22. Defendant denies providing Judge Tichenor with the warrant or taking any further actions concerning the warrant after it was denied by Judge Stone. James VanArsdel Decl., ¶ 6, ECF 56. Defendant further denies any knowledge of how the warrant came to be issued. Id. at ¶ 8.

         On March 30, Plaintiff was arrested pursuant to the warrant signed by Judge Tichenor. Id. at ¶ 34. Two days later, Plaintiff was released when Defendant confirmed to a deputy that the arrest warrant was defective. Id. at ¶ 36.

         Defendant is unaware of any other person who presented release agreement revocations to judges at the Yamhill County Circuit Court. Pl.'s Resp., Ex. 1, 7:6, 7:12, ECF 58. Both the warrant signed by Judge Tichenor and the warrant denied by Judge Stone included the initials of Christine VanArsdel. VanArsdel Decl., ¶ 2, ECF 57. Ms. VanArsdel is Defendant's wife and was, at the time, Judge Tichenor's judicial assistant. Id. ¶¶ 1, 5. Defendant and Judge Tichenor also played golf together on Saturdays and attended bible study sessions together on Tuesdays. Second Am. Compl., ¶ 24.

         Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint on March 16, 2015. ECF 28. On September 29, 2015, District Judge Anna J. Brown granted Defendant absolute prosecutorial immunity and dismissed the Second Amended Complaint. Patterson v. Yamhill Cty., No. 3:14-cv-00501-BR, 2015 WL 5737782, at *4 (D. Or. Sept. 29, 2015). The Ninth Circuit reversed. Patterson v. Van Arsdel, 883 F.3d 826, 828 (9th Cir. 2018).


         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “An issue of material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the [nonmoving] party.” Reed v. Lieurance, 863 ...

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