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Jennifer Leech, et al v. John Mayer

October 21, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James S. Gwin, United States District Judge:

OPINION & ORDER : [Resolving Doc. Nos. 153, 174, 176, 192]

With this decision, the Court examines whether the plaintiff who was under post release control under Ohio law can make a civil rights claim when a parole officer who was likely drunk, who was off-duty, who was not assigned to supervise the plaintiff, and who was stalking his estranged wife, caused the arrest of the plaintiff for associating with that estranged wife? Because neither Ohio nor federal law give parolees any real right to avoid arrest, the Court grants Defendant John Mayer's motion for summary judgment.

With this case, Plaintiffs Jennifer Leech and Edwin Griffeth generally allege that police and probation officers, county prosecutors, state and local government agencies, and a county judge conspired to harass them. In total, the Plaintiffs bring twelve counts against twenty-seven defendants for alleged violations of their rights under state and federal law. [Doc. 1.] [Doc. 103.] Of those twenty-seven defendants, only the claims against John Mayer remain.

Defendant John Mayer, a former employee of the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (OAPA), moves this Court for summary judgment.*fn1 He says he is entitled to summary judgment based on qualified immunity, and seeks dismissal based upon a his claim that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under the Eleventh Amendment. [Doc. 153.] The Plaintiffs oppose the motion. [Doc. 174.] For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

I. Background

In August 2004, Plaintiff Griffeth pled guilty to an information and was convicted of two counts of sexual battery. The offense apparently involved Griffeth having sex with two high school classmates of his son. Both victims were drugged prior to the sexual conduct. Richland County Common Pleas Judge DeWeese sentenced Griffeth to four years in prison. After two years incarceration, DeWeese then granted judicial release and placed Griffeth on community control sanctions for five years.

Defendant John Mayer served as a supervisor of the local branch of the Ohio Adult Parole Authority. Apparently, Plaintiff Griffeth and Plaintiff Jennifer Leech took up a friendship or romance after Griffeth's release amidst Leech's disintegrating and short marriage to Mayer.

Defendant John Mayer long suspected that his wife, Plaintiff Jennifer Leech, was having an affair with Plaintiff Griffeth. Mayer supervised the Mansfield Unit of the OAPA, the same unit tasked with monitoring Griffeth's community control after Griffeth's release from prison. Griffeth's supervision was initially assigned to another officer, but Mayer, as a supervisor, "took control" of the case, even though he had "no permission from his OAPA supervisor and/or authority to do this."

[Doc. 1 at 21-22.] Although OAPA policy mandated that Mayer disclose his relationship with Griffeth, he "never disclosed to the OAPA that he had a conflict of interest in Griffeth's case." [Doc. 1 at 22.]

Over the next couple of years, from 2006 through 2008, Mayer allegedly harassed Griffeth, including subjecting him to "approximately 50 urinalysis tests and/or approximately 50 Breathalyzer tests," despite Griffeth never testing positive for drugs or alcohol. [Doc. 1 at 30.]

Mayer and Leech separated in January 2008, and Mayer started to stalk Plaintiff Leech. During this period and somewhat illogically, Mayer gave Leech an official State of Ohio service revolver for protection.

After Mayer's divorce and on November 20, 2008, the harassment came to a head. Off duty, Mayer went to a bar, and as Sergeant Sweat testified, became "obviously intoxicated, under the influence of alcohol" with slurred speech and "was definitely beyond that of operating a motor vehicle . . . or being out walking down the street by himself." [Doc. 174-3 at 27] Drunk and full of rancor over Griffeth and Leech's friendship, Mayer left the bar in a rental car and drove to Leech's place of employment. Leech left work, and Mayer "tailed" her for twenty minutes -- presumably hoping to catch Leech and Griffeth together. [Doc. 1 at 16.]

In fact, Griffeth and Leech had prearranged to meet at a parking lot to discuss their issues with Mayer. Frightened that she was being followed, Leech got into Griffeth's car and they drove away.*fn2 [Doc. 174-1 at 228, 232.] Mayer called the police to report that Griffeth was violating a condition of his community control, and, in violation of OAPA procedures, pursued the Plaintiffs back to Griffeth's mother's house. [Doc. 174-1 at 86-87.] A verbal altercation ensued while the parties waited for the police. Reeking of booze, Mayer screamed obscenities and accused Leech of choosing a sex offender over him. [Doc. 174-6 at ¶¶ 26, 30.]

Bellville Police Officer Burt Skeen arrived on the scene and arrested Griffeth for probation violations. Officer Skeen transported Griffeth to the Richland County Ohio Sheriff's Department where he was held for four days. [Doc. 1 at 18.] Mayer also drove to the Richland County Sheriff's Department and filed the holding paperwork for Griffeth. Because Mayer appeared intoxicated, however, Sergeant Sweat insisted that Mayer call someone else to drive him home. [Doc. 172-2 at 277, 281-82.] The County did not bring parole violation charges against Griffeth directly after the November 20, 2008 incident. The OAPA fired Mayer the following April. [Doc. 174-1 at 17.]

Although no violation charges were pending, DeWeese transferred Edwin Griffeth's supervision from OAPA to the Richland County Adult Court Services; presumptively to avoid the obvious conflict of interest. [Doc. 1 at 65-66.] Richland County Adult Court Services assigned Dave Myers to supervise Griffeth. Apparently having a workload light enough to allow him to supervise the his defendants's dating practices, DeWeese amended Griffeth's community control conditions to include a new no-contact term that prohibited Griffeth and Leech from associating with each other. [Doc. 1 at 21-22.] While restrictions on ...

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