Court Opinion: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for Nov. 7

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

Becerra v. City of Albuquerque, et al.

Gabriel Becerra filed a civil rights claim against the city of Albuquerque, several city employees and two police officers. The district court dismissed the case, but Becerra appealed.

Becerra lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His next-door neighbors, with whom he had a deteriorating relationship since 2008, called the police three times in 2018 alleging he was using a speaker to play sounds of a barking dog. Becerra was away from his home during all three calls, the opinion noted. Nothing came of the first two, but officers responded to the third on Dec. 6, 2018.

The officers wore lapel cameras that recorded the entire interaction, the opinion explained. When they responded to the call, the officers spoke with Becerra’s neighbors and walked across Becerra’s driveway. Becerra’s truck was in the driveway with its front facing the street and its rear facing his closed garage door. His front door was screened-in. The officers were able to view Becerra’s license plate from their vantage point in his driveway. They knocked on the garage door in an unsuccessful attempt to contact Becerra. They called in the license plate number for ownership information, and Becerra received a criminal summons in the mail when he returned home.

Becerra sued the officers, alleging a 42 U.S. Code 1983 claim for false arrest and illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. He also sued the city of Albuquerque and four individual city employees for their failure to promulgate policies that would have prevented the alleged search and arrest of his person. He also brought a claim under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. Becerra amended his complaint once and submitted the lapel camera video with his amended complaint. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which the district court granted. After the grant of the motion, Becerra filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint and for the court to alter or amend its final judgment under Rule 59(e) or 60(b). The district court denied this motion, and his appeal followed.

After evaluation, the 10th Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court.

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