On January 7, 2011, a natural-born United States citizen of Latino ethnicity filed a lawsuit in the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, under various state laws against the Davidson County Sheriff's Office (the "Sheriff"). The plaintiff, initially represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages, claiming that the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (the "Metro Government") had violated the Charter of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County (the "Metro Charter"); that his due process rights under the Tennessee Constitution were violated; that he was maliciously harassed due to his race and ethnicity; and that he was falsely imprisoned.
Plaintiff's principal claim was that the Metro Government had violated the Metro Charter by allowing the Sheriff to enter into a 287(g) agreement with the U.S. government, which permitted the Sheriff to perform federal immigration law enforcement functions, even though the Metro Charter conferred all law enforcement duties upon the Nashville Police Department, and even though a prior Tennessee Supreme Court decision, Metro Government v. Poe, held that the Metro Charter took from the Sheriff the responsibility for the preservation of the public peace and vested that duty in the Nashville Police Department. Plaintiff also brought several other claims, including a due process claim and a false imprisonment claim, which would subsequently be dismissed.
On February 28, 2011, the Chancery Court ordered that the United States was an indispensible party to the lawsuit, and granted plaintiff thirty days to amend his complaint. An amended complaint was filed, which added a second plaintiff, added the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") as a defendant, and dropped all claims except for the violation of the Metro Charter. The case was subsequently removed to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
On June 21, 2011, the District Court (Judge Kevin H. Sharp) granted plaintiffs permission to again amend their complaint. Renteria-Villegas v. Metro. Gov.'t of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 796 F. Supp. 2d 900 (M.D. Tenn. 2011). The court denied as moot the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and the Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiffs amended their complaint to add another defendant and ICE subsequently moved to dismiss this latest iteration of the complaint.
On September 12, 2011, the District Court (Judge Sharp) granted in part and denied in part ICE's motion to dismiss, dismissing plaintiff's due process claim against it. Renteria-Villegas v. Metro. Gov.'t of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., No. 3:11-00218, 2011 WL 4048523 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 12, 2011). The District Court refused to dismiss plaintiff's claim that the 287(g) agreement violated the Metro Charter, and instead chose to certify that question to the Tennessee Supreme Court for determination. The case was stayed pending the resolution of that question of law.
Over a year later, on October 19, 2012, the Tennessee Supreme Court concluded that the 287(g) agreement did not violate the Metro Charter or any other state law cited by the Plaintiffs. Renteria-Villegas v. Metro. Gov.'t of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 382 S.W.3d 318 (Tenn. 2012). The Tennessee Supreme Court held that, "[w]hile the Charter makes the Police Chief the 'principal conservator of the peace,' it does not expressly prohibit the Sheriff from engaging in all activities that could conceivably be considered 'law enforcement.'"
Following the resolution of this question, in December of 2012, two of the three plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed all of their claims against all defendants. The remaining plaintiff dismissed his claims against ICE, but proceeded against Metro Government with constitutional claims under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and with a claim of false imprisonment.
In April of 2013, plaintiff's counsel filed a sealed motion asking the Court for leave to withdraw from representation of plaintiff. The District Court granted the motion for the reasons stated in the sealed motion. The Court allowed plaintiff thirty days to either find new counsel or notify the court that he intended to proceed pro se. Plaintiff did neither. The Court deemed the case abandoned, and dismissed it with prejudice. Dan Whitman - 11/25/2014