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Siegel v. Ragen

February 28, 1950


Author: Finnegan

Before KERNER, FINNEGAN and SWAIM, Circuit Judges.

FINNEGAN, Circuit Judge.

In this case an amended complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on behalf of Harry Siegel, Robert Harp and Maurice Meyer as plaintiffs, all of whom were and are inmates of the Illinois State Penitentiary.

The defendants named were Joseph E. Ragen, Warden of the Illinois State Penitentiary; T. P. Sullivan, Director of the Department of Public Safety of the State of Illinois; William Ryan, Roy Carlton and Andrew Stach, was are said to be captains of the guards of the Illinois State Penitentiary. Jurisdictio is based on the Federal Civil Rights Act, U.S.C.A., Title 8, ยงยง 41-56.

The defendants are charged with having conspired with other persons to the plaintiffs unknown to commit certain acts charged "with particularity" in the complaint, and to have perpetrated, in furtherance of said conspiracy, the particular acts in the complaint alleged. The conspiracy charged and the acts said to have been done in furtherance thereof, are alleged to have occurred within the three-year period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint, and to have been done within the jurisdiction of the Court.

Defendants interposed a motion to strike the amended complaint and to dismiss the same.

The order of the District Court dated June 17, 1949, which this appeal seeks to reverse, provides as follows: "Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint is therefore granted as to plaintiffs Meyer and Siegel, and claim is hereby dismissed as to them. Defendants' motion to strike is granted as to all matters alleged by plaintiff Harp except wherein it is alleged that he suffered serious bodily injury."

On July 14, 1949, on motion of Harry Siegel, Robert Harp and Maurice Meyer, through their attorney, an order was procured from the District Court permitting them, as plaintiffs, to prosecute an appeal in forma pauperis. On the same day their notice of appeal was filed in the District Court.

Appellants' attorney, also on July 14, 1949, filed a motion for instructions relative to prosecuting appeal on behalf of co-plaintiff, Robert Harp. In his motion the attorney represented that he had been notified by letter and also by wire that he was dismissed as counsel for said Robert Harp. He stated in the same motion that in his opinion Robert Harp was not acting in his own best interests, but was acting under duress; that said Harp was in fear of bodily injury from the defendant Ragen, or from subordinates acting under his direction; that the revocation of authority to act as attorney was the result of fear of bodily injury that had been threatened against Harp. On this motion a judge of the District Court, other than the trial judge, entered an order directing that the attorney represent Robert Harp in the prosecution of his appeal.

The record on appeal was filed on August 24, 1949.

On January 19, 1950, Robert Harp, co-appellant filed in this court his petition stating that he had been, ever since July 1, 1949, endeavoring to have said attorney discharged from further representation of his interests. Attached to Harp's petition in this court was a copy of a petition to the trial judge, dated June 23, 1949, which he was told had been filed but on which no action had ever been taken. Also attached was a copy of a letter to the attorney in question, dated July 1, 1949, discharging him as Harp's representative; also letters to the clerk of the District Court of Illinois, Northern District, Eastern Division, dated July 15, 1949; and to Otto Kerner, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and a letter dated July 20, 1949, to the Attorney General of the State of Illinois. All of the attached letters insisted that said attorney be discharged and that Harp be allowed to withdraw as an appellant in this appeal. From other exhibits attached to the petition filed by Harp in this court, it appears that he has appealed for assistance to the Postmaster General of the United States, to two members of the United States Senate from the State of Michigan, and to an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

On January 19, 1950, this court ordered that Robert Harp be allowed to withdraw from this appeal.

The only matter now before the court is therefore the action of the trial court in dismissing the amended complaint as to the plaintiffs Harry Siegel and Maurice Meyer.

So far as the plaintiff Maurice Meyer is concerned, the amended complaint alleges that through close study he has become an expert as to the law of "habeas corpus"; that the defendant Ragen abolished "a legal department" which the plaintiff claims to have set up within the penitentiary after having been directed to establish such a department by a judge of the United States District Court; that this plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement because a document was found in his cell of which paper he claims to have no knowledge; that the plaintiff was placed in segregation after a dining room disturbance in which he claims he took no part; that Ragen confiscated a typewriter which belonged to plaintiff personally, thereby depriving him of his legal right to assist in the prosecution of this action and an appeal to the Supreme Court of Illinois; that this plaintiff's health is impaired as a result of his segregation confinement; that this plaintiff deposited certain valuables with Ragen for which he was given a ...

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