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Thurman v. Steidley

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

May 5, 2017



          TERENCE KERN United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are the Joint Motion to Dismiss of Larry Steidley and Janice Steidley for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim (Doc. 18).

         I. Background

         In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff Diana Thurman (“Ms. Thurman”) alleges the following facts. In April 2014, Ms. Thurman's son, Justin Thurman (“Thurman”), was arrested and jailed in the Rogers County Detention Center. Ms. Thurman actively participated in her son's criminal case, including retaining counsel and attending court appearances.

         Following a May 2014 hearing regarding Thurman's new criminal charges, an unidentified woman claiming to work for Defendant Janice Steidley, who was then the Rogers County District Attorney (“DA Steidley”), contacted Thurman's mother, Diana Thurman (“Ms. Thurman”). This woman told Ms. Thurman she had reservations about the conduct of the police in Thurman's case and asked if Ms. Thurman was interested in discussing the matter further. Ms. Thurman agreed and was instructed to meet at the office of DA Steidley's husband, Larry Steidely (“Mr. Steidley”), who is also an attorney. Mr. Steidley and the unidentified woman reviewed Thurman's file with Ms. Thurman and indicated that DA Steidley “wanted to help her son.” (Compl. ¶ 9.)

         A few days later, Ms. Thurman drove to Claremore Lake to meet DA Steidley and Mr. Steidley (the “Steidleys”). The Steidleys and the unidentified woman were seated in the backseat of a black vehicle. The driver of the vehicle got out and instructed Ms. Thurman to get into the backseat, where the Steidleys told her they wanted to help her son but that they needed something from her. According to the Complaint, the Steidleys revealed their plan to “set up” the Sheriff of Rogers County (“Sheriff”). The Sheriff had led a petition against DA Steidley that resulted in a grand jury investigation and a 74-page report that was critical of DA Steidley.

         The Steidleys' alleged plan was for Ms. Thurman to dress provocatively, entice the Sheriff to consume alcohol, and elicit “embarrassing or humiliating statements” from him. (Id. ¶ 14.) At the end of this meeting at Claremore Lake, DA Steidley allegedly told Ms. Thurman not to tell anyone about their meeting and that jail is a dangerous place. The unidentified woman told Ms. Thurman that she needed to help them because people died in jail all the time, and it would be a shame to find her son hanging in his cell. Ms. Thurman participated in the scheme over the next several months, meeting with the Sheriff at various public places and reporting back to Mr. Steidley, who would give her further instructions and suggestions. At one point during the scheme, the Steidleys convinced Ms. Thurman to write a false narrative stating that she abused her son in order to help him obtain a better plea deal. Ms. Thurman now believes the Steidleys wanted to use this narrative as additional leverage over her.

         At some point after Steidley lost the primary in the next district attorney election, Ms. Thurman contacted the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (“OSBI”) and informed it of the scheme. OSBI urged her to continue the scheme so they could use her as an informant to gather evidence against the Steidleys. In January 2015, DA Steidley left office.

         Ms. Thurman alleges the Steidleys caused her “to live in fear of her life, wondering on a daily basis whether her welfare or the welfare of her family was in imminent harm.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.) She further alleges that the Steidleys' actions caused her to suffer both physically and psychologically; caused damage to her relationships with her son and her husband; and had a negative effect on her financially and emotionally. (Id. ¶ 25.) Ms. Thurman asserts two claims for relief against the Steidleys: (1) a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for violation of Ms. Thurman's substantive due process rights (“§ 1983 Claim”); and (2) a Bosh claim for violation of article 2, section 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution (“Bosh Claim”).[2]

         II. Additional Facts Derived from State Court Criminal Records (“State Court Records”)

         Defendants relied upon state court judicial records - namely, Thurman's criminal record dating back to January 18, 2007 - in support of its motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and its motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.[3] Ms. Thurman did not object to the Court's consideration of the records, dispute the records, or even discuss the records in her response to the Steidleys' motion to dismiss.

         The State Court Records reflect the following sequence of events. On April 17, 2007, Thurman pled guilty to five charges in CF-2007-294, Tulsa County, Oklahoma. (Steidleys' Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 1.) On August 26, 2008, Thurman pled guilty to five different charges in CF-2007-5659, Tulsa County, Oklahoma. (Id., Ex. 2.) On October 23, 2013, Thurman pled guilty and was convicted of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and transporting an open container of liquor in CF-2013-259 (‘2013-259”), Rogers County, Oklahoma, for which Thurman received an eight-year suspended sentence. (Id., Ex. 3.)

         On December 3, 2013, Tulsa County District Community Corrections officials filed a “Violation Report” alleging Thurman violated two conditions of his probation related to a one-vehicle accident that occurred on October 28, 2013. As a result of this incident, new criminal charges were filed in CF-2013-00440 (“2013-440”), Mayes County, Oklahoma, for DUI and transporting an open container. The report states:

Although Thurman continued to use alcohol after being sentenced four days prior on his Rogers County case, this officer feels that be has not had time to get treatment for his addiction. Thurman is scheduled to attend intensive inpatient treatment at the House of Hope in Grove, Oklahoma on December 10, 2013. This officer believes if Thurman abstains from any alcohol consumption, he will be a productive citizen in society. Therefore, this officer respectfully requests Thurman be court-ordered to participate in the SCRAM program for the remainder of his probation and be ordered to complete DUI Court in Rogers County.

(Id., Ex. 4.) On March 10, 2014, Thurman pled guilty and was convicted of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and transporting an open container of liquor in 2013-440, for which Thurman received a ten-year suspended sentence with “2 years District Attorney supervised probation.” (Id., Ex. 5.)

         On April 14, 2014, Chrissie Stone (“Stone”), Drug Court Coordinator, submitted a “Violation Report” in 2013-259 to Judge Sheila Condren and Assistant District Attorney for Rogers County, Timothy Wantland (“Wantland”). This report provides:

The defendant [Thurman] pled into the Rogers County Drug Court Program on January 27, 2014. At the time of his plea under oath he agreed that he had read and understood the rules of the Rogers County Drug Court Performance Contract. The defendant completed his Drug Court Intake on January 27, 2014. At the time of his intake he once again agreed that he understood the Rules and Conditions of the Rogers County Drug Court. The defendant is in violation of this said contract in the following manner:
1. The defendant failed to appear for a required Drug Screen on March 29, 2014.
2. The defendant had a dilute UA on April 4, 2014.
3. The defendant a positive Drug Test for Alcohol on April ...

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