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COLEMAN v. BALLENTINE

January 13, 1983

SAMUEL COLEMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD BALLENTINE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Samuel Coleman ("Coleman") has sued the Village of Robbins ("Robbins"), three Robbins officials and Cook County Deputy Sheriff Al Fiorenzo ("Fiorenzo") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983").*fn1 Coleman alleges various violations of his constitutional rights in connection with his termination as a Robbins Special Investigator. Robbins and its three officials (solely for convenience termed "defendants," even though Fiorenzo has not joined in the motion) have moved to dismiss. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

Facts*fn2

Coleman became a Robbins police officer in 1948 and served for many years thereafter. Beginning sometime in 1970 and until December 1, 1977 he was employed on a part-time basis for special police projects. Throughout the entire period Coleman had the duties and powers of a sworn police officer.

On December 1, 1977 Robbins' Board of Trustees (the "Board") appointed Coleman Special Investigator to probe for corruption in the Robbins police force. Coleman found evidence of widespread police corruption and implications of the involvement of Robbins Mayor Marion Smith ("Smith"). In April 1978 Coleman reported his findings to the Board and to the Cook County State's Attorney.

In an effort to suppress the investigation, Smith fired Coleman and abolished the Robbins police force, calling on the Cook County Sheriff's police to patrol Robbins. Smith acted without Board approval or authority.

Sometime in 1979 Robbins police officers who had been discharged by Smith were reinstated with back pay, but Coleman has repeatedly been refused back pay. Coleman continued his activities as Special Investigator through spring 1979.

On April 3, 1979 Coleman responded to a local businessman's report that Robbins Chief of Police Gordon Frierson ("Frierson") had attempted to obtain free services for Robbins police officers. Coleman investigated the matter and reported to the Board, which reprimanded Frierson. Before becoming Robbins police chief, Frierson had been the Cook County Sheriff's Deputy charged with patrolling Robbins in place of the disbanded Robbins police force.

Smith, Frierson and Fiorenzo and unknown others then conspired to harass and discredit Coleman. Pursuant to that conspiracy, on June 22, 1979 Fiorenzo arrested Coleman in his home without a warrant and caused him to be charged with wrongfully impersonating a police officer. In July 1979 a Cook County Circuit Court judge dismissed the charges against Coleman.

Coleman's Section 1983 Claims

True, Coleman's Complaint is none too clear in setting forth his Section 1983 contentions.*fn3 Nevertheless claims along these lines can be inferred:

    1. Smith terminated Coleman's employment as
  Special Investigator in retaliation for Coleman's
  exercise of his First Amendment*fn4 right to
  report to the proper authorities the illegal
  activities he had discovered.
    2. Frierson retaliated against Coleman for
  reporting Frierson's improprieties, by conspiring
  with Smith and Fiorenzo ...

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