The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES F. MCCLURE, JR.
Plaintiff Matthew A. Morrison alleges in this civil rights action
that Pennsylvania State Police Troopers John P. Stepanski
and Charles Daniel Counts violated his civil rights by surrendering him to the New York State Police on November 16, 1990 without going through proper extradition channels in violation of his rights under the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, as adopted in Pennsylvania (PaUCEA or the Act),
Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, the Federal Extradition Statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3182; and the Fourth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Morrison's arrest by Troopers Stepanski and Counts stemmed from an advisory to the Pennsylvania and New York State Police which went out in the early morning hours of November 16, 1990. Morrison was wanted by the New York State Police in connection with an incident which took place a few hours earlier at the home of James Doan in Alma Township, Allegany County, New York. Morrison entered the Doan home with a Deerslayer 12 gauge shotgun, and upon finding his live-in girl friend, Rhonda Ordiway, in bed with Doan, discharged the gun at a wall inside the residence and again outside the residence in the general direction of the dwelling.
The New York State Police issued a bulletin describing Morrison as armed and a possible danger to himself and others. Due to Allegany County's proximity to Pennsylvania, that warning was circulated to the Pennsylvania State Police. Troopers Counts and Stepanski sighted Morrison walking along a Pennsylvania highway, ordered him to halt, took him into custody, and placed him in the rear of their squad car. Troopers Counts and Stepanski testified at trial that, when asked about extradition, plaintiff stated that he wanted to return to New York and "get things over with", a statement they interpreted as a willingness to waive extradition.
Plaintiff alleges that defendants' conduct unlawfully deprived him of the right to counsel, the right to petition for writ of habeas corpus to challenge his arrest, and the right to extradition proceedings. He asserts claims under Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution,
as implemented by 18 U.S.C. § 3182
(the Federal Extradition Statute); under the Fourth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; and under the Pennsylvania Extradition Act.
A non-jury trial was held October 7, 1993. Based upon the evidence submitted at trial, the court finds: 1) that Morrison did not waive extradition under the PaUCEA; 2) Morrison was deprived of his federal right to petition for writ of habeas corpus before extradition to New York State; 3) Troopers Counts and Stepanski violated clearly established federal statutory and constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known in transferring Morrison to the custody of New York law enforcement authorities; 4) defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity from civil damages; 5) plaintiff did not sustain any actual harm as a legal result of defendants' conduct and is not entitled to compensatory damages; and 6) plaintiff is entitled to recover nominal damages for the deprivation of his federal right to petition for habeas relief. We will, therefore, enter judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendants in the nominal amount of $ 1.00.
The court makes the following findings of fact based on the testimony and exhibits presented at trial:
1. Plaintiff was born on April 7, 1962 and was twenty-eight years of age at the time of the incident.
2. He is the father of three children, two of whom reside with their mother, Rhonda Ordiway.
3. Plaintiff left school in the tenth grade.
4. On November 15, 1990, Morrison resided with his girlfriend, Ronda Ordiway, and their two children in a trailer in Shongo, New York.
6. Morrison arrived home from work at approximately 5:30 P.M. and went to the hospital to visit his two-month-old daughter who was ill with a respiratory infection.
7. After visiting his daughter, he returned home and became troubled because Ordiway and his other daughter were not at the trailer, and there was no indication as to where they had gone. He made several phone calls to Ordiway's relatives, but no one was able to tell him where Ordiway and his daughter were.
8. At approximately 8:00 P.M., Morrison left the trailer and went to the Hitching Post Tavern in Shongo, New York, where he drank two or three beers, and smoked one or two marijuana cigarettes.
9. He arrived back home at approximately 2:30 or 3:00 A.M. Ordiway was still not there, and there was still no indication as to where she or their daughter had gone.
10. Morrison telephoned Ordiway's sister, who told him that she had no idea where Ordiway was.
11. Morrison suspected that Ordiway was at the home of an acquaintance named James Doan, and went to the Doan residence.
12. He arrived there at approximately 3:00 A.M. and entered the home through a closed, unlocked, door carrying a Deerslayer 12-gauge shotgun.
13. Morrison went to the second floor of the residence, where he found Ordiway and Doan in bed together.
14. He discharged the gun into an interior wall of the house.
15. He discharged the gun a second time outside the house into an exterior wall.
16. No one was injured in the incident.
17. Morrison returned to his trailer at approximately 4:00 or 4:30 A.M., telephoned his mother and told her that he was contemplating suicide.
18. He then telephoned his employer and told him that he would not be at work that day due to a domestic disturbance.
19. At this point, Morrison was severely distraught, hurt and angry.
20. By this time he had been without sleep for twenty-four hours.
21. He had been treated several years earlier for depression, drug and alcohol abuse.
22. Morrison knew that the New York State Police would be looking for him and left the trailer on foot at approximately 6:00 or 7:00 A.M. with the intention of hitchhiking to Florida, where he had resided several years earlier. He took the rifle with him, intending to leave it at the home of a female acquaintance in Ellisburg, Pennsylvania on his way to Florida.
23. He headed toward the New York Pennsylvania border and crossed the border into Pennsylvania.
24. The New York State Police were notified of the incident at the Doan resident and issued a bulletin advising troopers to be on the lookout for Morrison.
25. The bulletin stated: "Subject during domestic situation at third party's house fired several shots from 12 ga. shotgun--subject last seen wearing blue baseball cap--blue denim winter jacket--blue work uniforms shirt and pants with logo general roofing on shirt--subject a danger to himself and others."
26. The New York State Police bulletin on Morrison was circulated to the Pennsylvania State Police.
27. The bulletin was received at the Coudersport, Pennsylvania State Police station over its teletype machine in the early morning hours of November 16, 1990 and was circulated to its troopers on patrol.
28. Pennsylvania State Police Troopers John P. Stepanski and Charles Daniel Counts searched for Morrison.
29. Initially, Troopers Counts and Stepanski searched individually in separate patrol cars, but subsequently joined forces and began searching for Morrison together.
31. Morrison complied, was taken into custody and placed in the rear of the patrol car.
32. When asked who he was, Morrison identified himself as Matthew Allen Morrison.
33. The troopers read Morrison his Miranda rights.
34. Trooper Counts asked Morrison whether he wanted to return to New York. At first, Morrison replied in the negative, stating that he wanted to fight extradition. He later stated that he ...