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Reneau v. Mahoney

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 25, 2014



WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the February 21, 2014 Recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya (ECF No. 50) (the "Recommendation") that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 25) be denied and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 28) be granted. The Recommendation is incorporated herein by reference. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Plaintiff filed objections to the Recommendation on March 7, 2014. (ECF No. 51.) For the reasons set forth below, the Recommendation is adopted, Plaintiff's Objection is overruled, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied, and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.


The facts are detailed in the Recommendation, which the Court has incorporated herein. Briefly, Plaintiff is a pro se prisoner currently housed in the Sterling Correctional Facility. However, the events relevant to this action occurred when Plaintiff was detained at the Larimer County Detention Center for a probation violation and revocation. (Compl. (ECF No. 1) p. 5.) Defendant is a deputy with the Larimer County Sheriff's Department.

On January 28, 2012, Plaintiff made a number of statements to Deputy Aaron Wright about harming members of Judge Thomas French's (his sentencing judge) family. (Rec. (ECF No. 50) at 2.) Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff brought two letters to the jail control room to be mailed, one addressed to Judge French ("French Letter") and the other to Danielle Cunningham[1] in care of the "Dept. of Probation" ("Cunningham Letter"). ( Id. at 4.) Plaintiff later made additional threatening comments to Deputy Wright. ( Id. at 3.)

Deputy Wright was alarmed by Plaintiff's comments and passed his concerns along to the Defendant. ( Id. ) Defendant retrieved the French Letter and opened it. ( Id. ) Defendant was discussing Plaintiff's actions with her supervisor when she received a call from Deputy Wright, who informed her that Plaintiff had asked for all of his mail back so that he could destroy it. ( Id. ) Plaintiff's request to retrieve his mail raised security concerns for Defendant, so she asked another deputy to retrieve Plaintiff's mail and bring it to her. ( Id. )

Upon receiving the Cunningham letter from the outgoing mail, Defendant opened it. ( Id. at 4.) The Cunningham letter stated that the Plaintiff was going to spend his three year jail sentence "contemplating how much fun it's going to be watching the judge lose some of this Relatives when I get out." ( Id. ) Defendant Mahoney brought the letters to the Deputy District Attorney, who filed charges against Plaintiff for retaliation against a judge. (ECF No. 28-9 at 4.) Plaintiff was convicted on those charges and sentenced to ten additional years in prison. (Rec. at 4.)

In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's seizure of the Cunningham Letter violated his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Compl. pp. 7-9.) Plaintiff filed his Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims on April 3, 2013. (ECF No. 25.) Defendant filed her Motion for Summary Judgment on April 9, 2013. (ECF No. 28.) Both Motions were referred to Magistrate Judge Tafoya for a recommendation on the disposition, which was filed on February 21, 2014. (ECF No. 50.) Plaintiff has filed an objection to the Recommendation. (ECF No. 51.)


When a Magistrate Judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive matter, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3) requires that the District Judge "determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's [recommendation] that has been properly objected to." FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b)(3). An objection is proper if it is filed within fourteen days of the Magistrate Judge's recommendations and specific enough to enable the "district judge to focus attention on those issues-factual and legal-that are at the heart of the parties' dispute." United States v. 2121 East 30th Street, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996) (citing Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985)). In the absence of a timely and specific objection, "the district court may review a magistrate... [judge's] report under any standard it deems appropriate." Summers v. Utah, 927 F.2d 1165, 1167 (10th Cir. 1991) (citing Thomas, 474 U.S. at 150); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 72 Advisory Committee's Note ("When no timely objection is filed, the court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record.").

In addition, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se; thus, the Court must liberally construe his pleadings. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). The Court, however, cannot act as advocate for Plaintiff, who must still comply with the fundamental requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).


Plaintiff's objection consists of twenty-five pages of rambling complaints about the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation. The Court has attempted to organize Plaintiff's arguments into discrete categories ...

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