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Rodgers v. Knight

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 23, 2015

Allan Rodgers; Gregory Allan Rodgers, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
Daniel K. Knight; Brian Liebhart; Thomas Quintana; Lloyd Simons; Mark Brotemarkle; Mike Valley; Kyle Lucas; Geoffrey Jones; Kenneth M. Burton; Cassandra Rogers, Defendants - Appellees, Richard Hicks, Defendant, City of Columbia, Missouri; Boone County, Defendants - Appellees, United States of America, Intervenor. Raymond D'Sean Franklin; Robert Dewayne Franklin, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
Daniel K. Knight; Geoffrey Jones; Kenneth M. Burton; Richard Hicks; City of Columbia Missouri; Boone County, Defendants - Appellees

Argued: September 11, 2014.

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Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Jefferson City.

For Allan Rodgers, Gregory Allan Rodgers, Plaintiffs - Appellants (14-1425): Stephen Sherman Wyse, Wyse Law Firm, Columbia, MO.

For Daniel K. Knight, Daniel K. Knight, Boone County, Defendants - Appellees (14-1425, 14-1454): Glen Ehrhardt, Elizabeth H. Weber, Rogers & Ehrhardt, Columbia, MO.

For Geoffrey Jones, Kenneth M. Burton, City of Columbia Missouri, Defendants - Appellees (14-1425, 14-1454): Bradley Christopher Letterman, Christopher Perry Rackers, Christopher Perry Rackers, Jefferson City, MO.

For United States of America, Intervenor (14-1425, 14-1454): Lajuana M. Counts, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO; Dara Smith, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC; Mark B. Stern, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate Staff, Washington, DC.

For Raymond D'Sean Franklin, Robert Dewayne Franklin, Plaintiffs - Appellants (14-1454): Stephen Sherman Wyse, Wyse Law Firm, Columbia, MO.

Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.


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COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

This is a consolidated appeal from two decisions of the district court.[1] Appellants

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Robert and Raymond Franklin in one case, and Allan and Greg Rodgers in another, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against law enforcement officials and municipalities. They alleged, as relevant on appeal, violations of rights under the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The claims relate to the seizure of firearms from the appellants and the arrests and prosecutions of Greg Rodgers and Raymond Franklin. In both cases, the district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on all claims. We affirm.


The Rodgers case involves an arrest of Greg Rodgers in August 2011, a subsequent search of his residence, a prosecution that was later dismissed, and the retention of seized firearms. Five police officers from Columbia, Missouri, arrested Greg at his apartment complex on August 12, 2011, on a municipal warrant for failure to appear in court. Greg was outside when officers approached, and he started to jog toward his apartment. When officers ordered Greg to stop, he turned around, took a Browning 9 millimeter pistol from his waistband, and threw the gun aside. After officers handcuffed him, Greg asserted that he had a Florida permit to carry a concealed weapon, but did not produce the permit. An arresting officer, Thomas Quintana, prepared a " Probable Cause Statement" for prosecutors that same day, alleging that Greg committed the offenses of unlawful use of weapons and resisting or interfering with arrest.

Later that month, police executed a warrant to search the " premises" of Greg's apartment for " ammunition and firearms and any other evidence related to the crime of unlawful possession of a weapon." Officers seized several firearms belonging to Greg Rodgers or his father, Allan Rodgers, from a locked storage closet below the stairs that led to Greg's second-floor apartment.

A county prosecutor then charged Greg with unlawful use of a firearm by carrying a concealed weapon. Later, after Greg's counsel notified the prosecutor in writing that Florida had issued Greg a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the prosecutor amended the charge to allege possession of a firearm by a " fugitive from justice." The prosecution's theory was that Greg was a fugitive from justice because he failed to appear in court on a summons that was issued for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. The prosecutor also charged Greg with resisting arrest based on the August 12 incident.

The trial court dismissed the firearms charge, and the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed on February 5, 2013. State v. Rodgers, 396 S.W.3d 398 (Mo.Ct.App. 2013). The court of appeals noted that " fugitive from justice" is not defined by statute, and that no case had defined the phrase in this context. Id. at 400-01. But the court concluded that the rule of lenity required strict construction of the ambiguous language in favor of Rodgers. Id. at 403. Thus, the court held that Greg was not a fugitive from justice and affirmed the dismissal of that charge. Id. at 404. The Missouri Supreme Court denied an application for transfer on April 30, 2013, and in May 2013, the prosecutor dismissed the remaining charge for resisting arrest.

In early 2012, Allan Rodgers asked the Boone County, Missouri, Prosecuting Attorney's Office to return his firearms that were seized during the search in August 2011. An assistant prosecuting attorney and the chief investigator at the prosecuting attorney's office directed the police department's evidence custodian in February 2012 to retain the firearms; the investigator noted that prosecutors would be

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refiling a criminal case against Greg. Eventually, a police captain authorized the evidence custodian to release Allan's firearms, and Allan reclaimed them on September 21, 2012. Greg requested return of his firearms on October 8, 2012, and police returned all but the Browning 9 millimeter pistol on October 22. Police ...

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