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Logsdon v. US Marshal Service.

No. 23-7008. 2/5/2024. E.D.Okla. Judge Hartz. Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition—Constructive Possession of Firearm or Ammunition—Sufficiency of Evidence—US Sentencing Guidelines—Lookback Period for Prior Crime of Violence.

February 5, 2024

Deputy US Marshal Gilliam and Special Deputy US Marshals Smith and Vaughn (collectively, defendants) were executing a state court warrant for the arrest of Logsdon on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. Defendants secretly approached Logsdon after dark while he was working on a generator outside a friend’s house. Deputy Gilliam ran up behind Logsdon and kicked him in the face, rendering him unconscious. The three officers then stomped on Logsdon for two minutes. Logsdon sued the US Marshal Service (USMS) and defendants for alleged excessive use of force under Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The district court dismissed the USMS as an improper party for a Bivens claim, and defendants moved to dismiss on grounds that Bivens does not provide a remedy for Logsdon’s allegations against them, or, alternatively, that they are entitled to qualified immunity. The district court overruled the motion on both grounds. Defendants moved for reconsideration, and the district court sustained the motion to reconsider and dismissed the case.

On appeal, Logsdon argued that the district court erred on the merits. In Bivens, the US Supreme Court created a cause of action against federal agents for a Bill of Rights violation, holding that Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents could be liable for damages for an unlawful warrantless arrest and search and for using unreasonable force in making the arrest. Subsequently, the Court recognized a cause of action under Bivens in only two cases, stating that the ultimate question to ask when determining whether courts should recognize a Bivens cause of action is “whether there is any reason to think that Congress might be better equipped to create a damages remedy.” Further, the Court has justified a departure from its Bivens precedents even when the facts are virtually the same if the government can provide a reason for not recognizing a cause of action that was not considered in the applicable precedent. The Tenth Circuit accordingly addressed three features of Logsdon’s case that were not considered in Bivens: (1) the nature of the law enforcement conduct, (2) the category of defendant, and (3) the existence of other remedies for misconduct. As to the first factor, the Tenth Circuit gave little weight to the fact that the deputy marshals executed an arrest warrant outside of Logsdon’s friend’s house, as opposed to the law enforcement conduct at issue in Bivens, which involved the warrantless entry into a home, concluding that the warrant and location of the arrest have no legal significance in an excessive force case. As to the second factor, the Tenth Circuit found it compelling that USMS agents are a new category of defendant, as compared to the Bivens Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents defendants, because the USMS has the unique statutory authority (which was exercised in this case) to federally deputize officers from other jurisdictions to perform deputy US marshal functions. Lastly, the internal USMS grievance procedure and the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General investigation procedure offer adequate alternative remedies to Logsdon. Therefore, the district court did not err on the merits.

Logsdon also argued that the district court abused its discretion by considering the motion to reconsider because the motion failed to satisfy requirements limiting when a motion to reconsider is proper. However, district courts have discretion to reopen every order entered before a final decree.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit proceedings can be found at the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit website.

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