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Trice v. Maloney

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 20, 2015

WILLIAM R. TRICE, Plaintiff,
LT. ERIC MALONEY, et al., Defendants.


GREGORY M. SLEET, District Judge.

The plaintiff, William R. Trice ("Trice"), who proceeds pro se and has been granted leave to proceed without prepayment of fees, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Trice is currently confined at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware. Pending before the court is the motion for summary judgment of the defendants Lt. Eric Maloney ("Maloney") and Officer Earl K. Brode ("Brode") (together "the defendants") and Trice's opposition thereto. (D.I. 86.)


A. Amended Complaint

The amended complaint with exhibits (D.I. 8, 13) alleges that Maloney accused Trice of violating a no contact order imposed as a condition of release in Criminal Case No. 1004011070 that was pending in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County. Trice alleges that Maloney signed a false affidavit in police complaint No. 5510001652 (assigned Criminal Case No. 1006018519) that charged Trice with noncompliance with conditions of recognizance bond or conditions violation when Trice entered the property of Ronald Messick ("Messick") in violation of the no contact order that was issued by the Kent County Superior Court. Trice claims that the location he entered was hot Messick's property. The amended complaint alleges that, on June 30, 2010, Trice was arrested by Brode and taken into custody for violating the no contact order. Trice had been charged with several other crimes and, on March 22, 2011, he entered a Robinson plea to rape in the third degree, strangulation, and tampering with a witness. The remaining charges were nolle prossed, including the charge for violating the no contact order in Criminal No. 1006018579. See Trice v. State, 36 A.3d 351 (Del. 2012) (table decision); (D.I. 26, ex. Superior Court Criminal Docket Nos. 1004011070 and 1006018519.) Trice alleges that the defendants' actions violated his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and prohibited his access to liberty, property, and equal protection of Delaware laws which state that one cannot be ousted or excluded from one's home without due process of law. (D.I. 13.) He seeks compensatory damages.

B. Facts Presented by the Parties

The April 16, 2010 "No-Contact Provisions/Conditions of Release/Order during Commitment in Lieu of Bail" issued as a result of Trice's arrest for arson and burglary states, as follows:

You [Trice] are to have no contact, direct or indirect with Ronald R. Messick, Mary M. Szczytkowski ("Szczytkowski") 11 Rose Haven Drive (hereinafter the "Alleged Victim"), or with the alleged victim's property, residence, place of employment, school, church or at any other place. No direct or indirect contact means that you are not to be in the physical presence of the alleged victim.... You will at all times stay 100 or more yards away from the alleged victim, the alleged victim's residence and workplace.

(D.I. 85, A3, A18.)

The manufactured housing community known as Cozy Woods in which 11 Rose Haven Drive is located, is owned by Messick's Manufactured Housing Community LLC ("MMHC"). (Id. at A5.) The streets in the manufactured housing communities owned by MMHC are private streets that belong to MMHC and are not maintained by the City of Harrington or the Delaware Department of Transportation. (Id. )

On June 20, 2010, Szczytkowski's father, Ivan Chapman ("Chapman"), saw Trice at 52 California Parkway, Harrington, Delaware, an address is located in Messick's Manufactured Housing Community. (Id. at A3-4.) Chapman lived next door to 52 California Parkway. (D.I. 85, A3.) Trice's mother, Mary J. Trice ("M. Trice") resides at 51 California Parkway and has leased the property since October 1994. (D.I. 92, B28.) According to M. Trice, her son shared the residence. (D.I. 93, ¶ 6.) Trice was at his mother's residence on June 20, 2010, when he waved and spoke to Chapman. (D.I. 85, A3; D.I. 92, B24.)

Szczytkowski contacted the Harrington Police Department to report what her father had seen. (Id. ) Maloney interviewed Chapman and Szczytkowski and was advised there was a no contact order and that Trice was not allowed on Messick property. (Id. ) Maloney confirmed the existence of the no contact order through the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System (i.e., DELJIS). (Id. )

Maloney understood and believed that the manufactured home parks wherein Rose Haven Drive and California Parkway are located were owned by Messick. (Id. at A14.) He states that Rose Haven Drive and California Parkway are less than 100 yards apart. (Id. ) Maloney applied for a warrant charging Trice with noncompliance with conditions of recognizance bond. (Id. at A13.) The affidavit in support of the warrant lists the location of the offense as 51 California Boulevard, Harrington, Delaware. (Id. at A3.) Maloney states that, at the time he submitted the documents to the Justice of the Peace Court, he believed the information contained therein was true. (Id. at A15.) On June 21, 2010, a Justice of the Peace at Justice of the Peace Court No. 2 issued a warrant for Trice's arrest. (Id. at A1.)

On June 23, 2010, Trice appeared at the Harrington Police Department, surrendered, and was processed by Brode. (D.I. 85, A16-17; D.I. 92, B5.) Upon his arrest, Trice stated that "he stopped by his mother's to get clothing... thought the no contact order only meant when the subjects are present... that because he went to his mother's house he thought it was OK." (D.I. 92, B35.) Trice was arraigned by videophone and released on $5, 000 unsecured bond. (D.I. 85, A17, D.I. 92, B25.) The charges against Trice in ...

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