Nicholas Alahverdian v. Rhode Island Sheriff’s Department

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS

SUPERIOR COURT

NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 
Plaintiff,

v.

RHODE ISLAND STATE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, and JOHN DOE (a deputy who : refuses to give his name)
Defendants.

I. COMPLAINT

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian brings this action to the Honorable Court due to the failure of the Rhode Island State Sheriff’s Department and one of its deputies (hereinafter referred to as “the Department,” “defendant,” or “Defendant Doe”) failed to adhere to the laws pertaining to searches, seizures, privacy, and stalking: specifically R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 9-1-2.1, 9-1-28.1, 11-45-1, the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island; as well as 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986; and other causes of action to be conveyed to the Court. The search and seizure of the Plaintiff’s phone by a Sheriff’s deputy failed to “adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, [and] respect the public trust and the rights of all persons” pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-1 et seq. Further, the search and seizure failed to protect the lawful entitlements to privacy of Nicholas Alahverdian. Plaintiff respectfully requests that this Honorable Court declare that the Department’s actions violate state and federal laws, assess civil fines, punitive damages, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and enjoin the Department from further violations.

II. PARTIES

1. Plaintiff, Nicholas Alahverdian is a resident of Rhode Island.
2. Defendant, Rhode Island State Sheriff’s Department is a Rhode Island law enforcement 
agency. Defendant Doe is a deputy who refuses to give his name and was not provided 
by the Department.

III. JURISDICTION

3. Jurisdiction over this matter is vested in the Superior Court pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 8-2-14.

IV. FACTS

4. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian appeared at the Garrahy Judicial Complex. Plaintiff attempted to speak to a Court Clerk, but before even entering the courtroom, was confronted by a demonstrative deputy in the anteroom of the Courtroom. Plaintiff was screamed at by the deputy (John Doe) in the hallway, who was also swearing and acting in a volatile manner, who instructed Plaintiff to leave the area because of a “confidential hearing.” Plaintiff objected and stated that he wanted to speak to the clerk and that the court was obviously not in session.

5. While in the hallway, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian took out his phone and began to record the malicious, verbally assaultive remarks. Defendant threatened to take Plaintiff’s phone away. Plaintiff called for help as the vicinity fell into silence because of how loud the deputy was screaming. Defendant Doe threatened to physically assault Plaintiff while they were in an elevator. Plaintiff was escorted out of the building. Plaintiff was thus prohibited from access to the courts.

6. A few weeks later, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian returned to the courthouse. Plaintiff was speaking in the lobby of the Court offices on his cellular telephone to Chief Joseph Little of the Capitol Police. Defendant Doe heard Plaintiff tell Chief Little of the recording of the deputy who was verbally assaultive. Plaintiff did not see the deputy. Plaintiff ended the phone call. Plaintiff saw Defendant Doe come around the corner. Plaintiff felt stalked. Plaintiff was instructed to hand over the phone.

7. Plaintiff was screamed at in a volatile manner. Capitol Police officers and the Chief of Staff of the Family Court, as well as other witnesses, were present. Plaintiff refused to hand over the phone.
8. Plaintiff inquired as to why the Defendant Doe required the phone. Plaintiff was threatened with arrest for “obstruction of justice.” Plaintiff was struck twice. Plaintiff had his arms twisted. Plaintiff was violently shoved against the wall. Defendant Doe repetitively took out his hand cuffs. Defendant was verbally threatening. Defendant repetitively threatened to arrest Plaintiff.

9. Plaintiff, intimidated and in fear for his life, and under threat of arrest, handed the phone over to the deputy. Defendant left the area with the phone and returned several times, all the while screaming and hollering maniacally, violently asking the Plaintiff to locate the videos and photographs on the phone in an effort to provoke the spoliation of the evidence of the video of his verbal assaultiveness recorded earlier.

10. The two Capitol Police officers encouraged their colleague to calm down because he was so out of control.

11. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian finally managed to depart the area.

12. Plaintiff has been stalked by Defendant Doe each time he enters the Courthouse, even after complaining about the deputy to Chief Deputy Silva and High Sheriff Dias. Defendant also has appeared in courtrooms without recusing himself due to an ongoing investigation of his conduct, and harasses Plaintiff each time he enters the courthouse.

13. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian had an important role to document the criminal conduct of the sheriff when he began to be screamed at. Plaintiff could not perform that role if he feared criminal 
reprisals.

14. The four factors of illegal seizure established by Rhode Island courts are satisfied. Plaintiff owned the phone. Plaintiff previously used the phone. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian had the power to exclude the deputy’s unlawful use and/or seizure of the phone, and Plaintiff had a legitimate basis for being present in the Courthouse.

15. Defendant’s search and seizure of the phone was unconstitutional. There was no reason to search the phone. No crime was committed. The deputy’s sole intent was to destroy evidence against him, thus using state power, the color of law, for a personal interest; that is, to destroy evidence of his previous misbehavior of verbal assault and violation of the Code of Ethics.

16. Defendant violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

17. Defendant had no warrant, no proof of a crime, and no probable cause.

18. The unlawful and intrusive seizure was profound. Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, “The Fourth Amendment must protect the privacies of life.” It was 1928 when he warned that “ways may someday be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home.” Searching and seizing Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian’s phone is a major violation of privacy.

19. Defendant did not have a warrant, nor did Defendant have the authority to issue such a warrant as the Defendant is not a judge, thus the “warrant” was not judicially sanctioned. There was no probable cause that a crime had been committed.

20. The Fourth Amendment allows no search or seizure of a person’s property without a warrant. An illegal seizure of property occurred when the defendant unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s possessory interests.

21. The Plaintiff’s freedom of movement was restrained and his liberty was unconstitutionally intruded upon by the defendant.

COUNT I – FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION

22. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 21 herein.

23. Defendant illegally searched the Plaintiff and seized the Plaintiff’s phone.

24. At the time of the incident, the agent of the Department were acting under color of state law and within the scope of his employment.

25. Plaintiff claims and is entitled to compensatory damages for the injuries set forth above.

26. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court declare that the Department violated the Fourth Amendment.

27. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court enjoin the Department from future violations of the Fourth Amendment.

COUNT II – WILLFUL OR KNOWING

28. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 27 herein.

29. The Department violated the Fourth Amendment when it unlawfully seized the phone of the Plaintiff.

30. The Department had actual and/or constructive knowledge of the law.

31. The Department is presumed to have a knowledge of the law.

32. The Department willfully and/or knowingly violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

33. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court assess a fine against the Department and the responsible agents for a knowing and intentional violation of the Fourth Amendment.

34. Plaintiff claims and is entitled to compensatory damages for the injuries set forth above.

COUNT III – VIOLATION OF R.I.G.L. § 9-1-28.1 PRIVACY

35. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 34 herein.

36. Defendant violated the privacy of the Plaintiff when it unlawfully seized Plaintiff’s 
phone.

37. At the time of the incident, the agent of the Department was acting under color of state law and within the scope of his employment.

38. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above for the Department’s violation of Plaintiff’s rights under color of law.

39. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court declare that the Department violated R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-28.1.

40. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court enjoin the Department from future violations of R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-28.1.

41. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court assess a fine against the Department and the responsible agents for a knowing and intentional violation of R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-28.1.

COUNT IV – VIOLATION OF R.I.G.L. § 9-1-2.1 STALKING

42. Plaintiff incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 41 herein.

43. Defendant violated R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-2.1 when Defendant Doe surreptitiously stalked Plaintiff in an effort to confront Plaintiff, unlawfully seize the phone, and destroy evidence of his misconduct.

44. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above for stalking.

COUNT V – DISORDERLY CONDUCT

45. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 44 herein.

46. The Department and Defendant Doe violated 11-45-1 when Defendant was swearing, screaming, and yelling, admonishing Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian to be in fear for his life.

47. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above for disorderly conduct.

COUNT VI – DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS

48. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 47 herein.

49. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant for violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights under color of law.

COUNT VII – CONSPIRACY TO INTERFERE WITH CIVIL RIGHTS

50. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 49 herein.

51. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 against Defendant for violation conspiring to interfere with Plaintiff’s civil rights.

COUNT VIII – ACTION FOR NEGLECT TO PREVENT

52. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 51 herein.

53. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1986 against Defendant for having knowledge of the wrongs conspired to be committed.

COUNT IX – VIOLATION OF THE R.I. CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE 1, SECTIONS 2, 5, & 6

54. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 53 herein.

55. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Article 1, Sections 2, 5, and 6.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests this Honorable Court
1) declare that the Defendant violated the the law;
assess civil fines;
2) award full compensatory damages to the Plaintiff;
3) award appropriate punitive damages to the Plaintiff in an amount sufficient to punish Defendant and its employees and agents for their conduct and to set an example to deter others from similar conduct;
4) award Plaintiff pre- and post-judgment interest;
award Plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs of this lawsuit;
5) declare violations of the law;
enjoin Defendant and its employees and agents from further violations of the law;
6) and grant such other relief as may be just and appropriate.

JURY DEMAND

Plaintiff demands trial by jury of his claims, as well as of all issues presented in this complaint.

PROOF OF SERVICE

I certify that the foregoing Complaint has been hand delivered to the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General, on this 25th day of April, 2011.

Dated: Providence, Rhode Island April 25, 2011

Respectfully submitted,
___________________________
Nicholas Alahverdian

Plaintiff

68 Dorrance Street #160

Providence, RI 02903