|Virginia Emerson Hopkins
It's pretty hard to dismiss the Jail Case, based on the facts or law. It's a matter of public record that I was, in fact, kidnapped from inside my home (no warrant, in violation of state law, the Fourth Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court finding in Payton v. New York), and defendants were among those responsible for it. No one can seriously argue the arrest was lawful, given that Rob Riley and Liberty Duke filed a bogus defamation claim, seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction that have been prohibited as prior restraints under more than 230 years of First Amendment law.
Since Hopkins -- whose husband (Anniston lawyer Chris Hopkins) essentially bought a judicial seat for her, by giving generously to Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions -- can't cheat us on fact or law, how does she do it? By butchering simple procedural and statutory law that an orangutan should be able to get right. (Hopkins' "judgment," our Rule 59 motion in response to it, and an amendment to our Rule 59 motion are embedded at the end of this post.)
You might recall that Hopkins hardly has a judicial temperament, as we showed in a post about her screaming fit, for about 20 minutes, at Fultondale attorney Greg Morris when he appeared to represent us at a Rule 26 planning meeting. Now, we can show Hopkins doesn't have the brains or the integrity for the job, either. Given what we've learned about interference in the Jail Case from the Alabama State Bar, it would not be a surprise if Hopkins were collaborating with bar officials to cheat us.
Hopkins' first line of deceit involves the statute of limitations (SOL). She dismissed all six of our federal claims -- First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, False Arrest, False Imprisonment, and Excessive Force -- by finding that we filed our complaint after the two-year statute of limitations for claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 had expired.
It is standard around the country that the time bar for a Sec. 1983 claim is based on each state's statute of limitations for personal-injury cases. In Missouri, that is five years; in Alabama, it's two years. So, it's undisputed that our case, in fact, is governed by a two-year SOL. But that is not the only time-related matter at hand. There also is the small matter of when the SOL begins to accrue. In other words, when does the two-year clock start clicking on a Sec. 1983 claim in Alabama, or any other state?
To answer that question, one must turn to federal law. Here is how the U.S. Eleventh Circuit (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) put it in a case style Kelly v. Serna, 87 F. 3d 1235 (11th Cir., 1996):
“Deciding what statute of limitations applies to this action gets us only half way to our destination. Secondly, we must decide at what point the applicable statute begins to run. A statute of limitations begins to run when the cause of action accrues. Accrual of a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is a question of federal law.Mullinax v. McElhenney, 817 F.2d 711, 716 (11th Cir.1987).
As the Eleventh Circuit put it, Hopkins decided only half of the issue. Her memorandum opinion gives no hint that she even considered the second half -- the accrual half, which is extremely important, especially in a case where false imprisonment is alleged.
You might recall that I was incarcerated for more than five months -- from Oct. 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014. As you probably can imagine, being in jail cuts one off from the world. In the Shelby County Jail, inmates did not even have access to a functioning writing implement (a pen could be used as a weapon) or pieces of paper. Federal courts recognize this and have adopted a special rule that applies to cases involving allegations of false arrest/imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court has spelled out this rule, as has Restatement of Torts, a compendium of U.S. common law, which applies in courts across the country.
Here is how the nation's highest court put it in a case styled Wallace v. Kato, 549 US 384 (U.S. Supreme Court, 2007):
“The statute of limitations in a § 1983 suit is that provided by the State for personal-injury torts,e.g.,Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-250, 109 S.Ct. 573, 102 L.Ed.2d 594 . . . For false imprisonment and its subspecies false arrest, "[t]he... cause[s] of action ... provid[ing] the closest analogy to claims of the type considered here," Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 484, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383, the statute of limitations begins to run when the alleged false imprisonment ends, see,e.g., 4 Restatement (Second) of Torts § 899.”
The Northern District of Alabama already has correctly interpreted and applied the law, in a case styled Antonio James v. City of Birmingham(ND of AL, 2012). From James:
“As to Count Two, alleging false imprisonment, the “running of the statute of limitations on false imprisonment is subject to a distinctive rule-dictated, perhaps, by the reality that the victim may not be able to sue while he is still imprisoned: "Limitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends.’” Wallace, 549 U.S. at 389 (quoting 2 H. Wood, Limitation of Actions § 187d(4), p. 878 (rev. 4th ed. 1916).
You'd think that Hopkins might be able to figure out that a judge in her own building already has correctly applied the law regarding accrual of the SOL in a case alleging false imprisonment. But you would be wrong. You'd also think Hopkins might be able to consult Restatement of Torts, a volume that probably is found in every law library -- even in podunk counties -- around the country. You would be wrong about that, too.
In fact, Restatement of Torts provides probably the most clear and concise description of the matter -- and again, this is the U.S. common law, which applies all over -- and that's why we filed an amendment to our Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. We wanted to provide the most plainly understood version of the law, in hopes that Hopkins and opposing lawyers in the case -- almost all of whom claimed our lawsuit was untimely filed -- might be able to grasp it. From Restatement of Torts:
“For false imprisonment, the statute [of limitations] begins to run only when the imprisonment ends, since the period of imprisonment is treated as a unit." Restatement (Second) of Torts § 899, (1979). See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. at 389,127 S. Ct. 1091 ("The running of the statute of limitations on [common-law] false imprisonment is subject to a distinctive rule—dictated, perhaps, by the reality that the victim may not be able to sue while he is still imprisoned."). The Restatement.
Law does not get much more clear and simple than that. Our Rule 59 motion is pending, so we will see if Hopkins can figure it out. Our guess is that she won't even try; she appears to be so bereft of integrity that she likely will figure out some other way to cheat us.
The law and the numbers, however, do not lie. Here is a summary, involving the dates in question:
* All parties involved agree that Alabama's two-year statute of limitations governs this Sec. 1983 case;
* Hopkins ignores federal law -- as stated by the U.S. Supreme Court and Restatement of Torts -- that governs when our complaint accrues, when the clock starts ticking on the two-year SOL;
* I was arrested on Oct. 23, 2013, so Hopkins wrongly claims our clock started ticking then -- that our complaint had to be filed by Oct. 23, 2015;
* But I was incarcerated for more than five months -- released on March 26, 2014 -- and under the law cited above, accrual of our complaint began on that date;
* Hopkins admits our complaint was filed on March 26, 2016, which means it was timely per Kato and the Restatement.
It will be interesting to see if Hopkins continues to get this wrong because, if she does, that is a criminal act -- one that almost certainly is driven by extrajudicial forces that should have forced her disqualification from the case many months ago. Hopkins likely is tippy-toeing over the line of the nation's racketeering laws, involving obstruction of justice and other criminal acts. We've seen evidence that suggests officials with the Alabama State Bar also have stepped into RICO land.
We'd say Hopkins, and her cronies at the state bar, are dancing in dangerous territory, but we're not sure they are smart enough to understand that.
As for the second ground upon which Hopkins wrongfully dismissed our Jail Case, we will examine that in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)