Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

COOPER v. ELROD

July 17, 1985

GERARD COOPER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD ELROD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee in the State of Illinois, claims that defendants unlawfully transferred him from the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center ("Audy Home") to the Cook County Jail after he turned seventeen years old because they did not grant him a prior hearing. Plaintiff bases his claim on an Illinois statute which provides that when a convicted person originally committed to the Juvenile Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") reaches the age of seventeen, there shall be a hearing to determine whether or not that person shall be transferred to the Adult Division. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, ¶ 1005-8-6(c), 1003-10-7(a), (c) (1983). Plaintiff claims that defendants, in effecting his automatic transfer, acted under color of state law to deprive him of his Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 This Court has proper subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1343.

Prior to transfer, plaintiff Gerard Cooper filed in Cook County Circuit Court a motion to prevent transfer, which was denied on Friday, January 11, 1985. On Monday, January 14, 1985, after the transfer had occurred, plaintiff argued a motion for a temporary restraining order before this Court, which motion also was denied. Plaintiff now requests that this Court grant him the following relief: (a) a holding that the policy resulting in plaintiff's automatic transfer is unconstitutional; and (b) entry of an order directing defendants to transfer plaintiff Cooper back to the Audy Home until he is afforded a judicial hearing to determine whether he should be transferred to the Cook County Jail.

Presently before this Court are cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons given below, defendants' motion for summary judgment in their favor is granted, and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied.

Facts*fn2

Plaintiff, Gerard Cooper, was born on January 12, 1968. On August 31, 1984, an indictment charging Cooper with murder was filed. Because he was unable to meet the $250,000 bond and because he was sixteen years old at the time, he was placed in the Audy Home pending trial.

The Audy Home is a detention center for juveniles, established by the County Board of Cook County, pursuant to Chapter 23 of the Illinois Revised Statutes, "Charities and Public Welfare." Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 23, ¶ 2681 (1983). The Cook County Jail houses inmates aged seventeen and over. Inmates of the Cook County Jail are under the custody of the Cook County Sheriff, and within the Cook County Department of Corrections. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 125, ¶¶ 201-216 (1983).*fn3 It is the policy of the Cook County Corrections Department, the Cook County Jail, and the Audy Home to transfer Audy Home inmates to the Cook County Jail when they turn seventeen years old. The transfer is automatic: there is no prior hearing.

On Saturday, January 12, 1985, Cooper turned seventeen years old. On Monday, January 14, 1985, pursuant to the aforesaid county policy, defendants caused plaintiff Cooper to be transferred from the Audy Home to Cook County Jail without a hearing. Cooper is currently incarcerated at the Cook County Jail, housed in a school tier for 17 to 20 year olds. Under the Illinois Code of Corrections, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, ¶¶ 1003-1-1 to 1008-6-1, however, when a convicted person who is originally housed in the Juvenile Division of the IDOC turns seventeen years old, the sentencing court must conduct a hearing to determine whether that person should remain under the auspices of the Juvenile Division or be transferred to the Adult Division. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, ¶¶ 1005-8-6(c), 1003-10-7(a) (1983). These hearings are conducted by the sentencing court and the court is to consider all relevant matter, including, inter alia, the seriousness of the offense, "whether the protection of the community requires transfer," and "the sophistication and maturity of the juvenile." Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, ¶ 1003-10-7(c).*fn4

Only persons who have been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a felony are committed to the IDOC and thus are within the purview of the Illinois Corrections Code. All pretrial detainees in Illinois, all those convicted persons awaiting sentencing, and all convicted persons sentenced to a term of imprisonment for less than one year, are under the custody of the Sheriff in the various county corrections systems. See Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, ¶¶ 1003-1-2(b), 1005-8-6(b) (1983).*fn5

Substantive Due Process Claim

Plaintiff Cooper claims first that defendants have violated his substantive due process rights. According to Cooper, Illinois law creates a constitutionally protected liberty interest for convicted persons in remaining in the Juvenile Division of the IDOC if they were originally housed there. Plaintiff argues that because pretrial detainees retain at least those constitutional rights enjoyed by convicted persons, Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 545, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1877, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979), he had a substantive due process right to a hearing before transfer to Cook County Jail.

The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits any State from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The Supreme Court has established that the Due Process Clause in and of itself does not protect a convicted prisoner from arbitrary transfer from one institution to another within the state prison system. Indeed, that an inmate is transferred to a much more disagreeable institution does not implicate a Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest. Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225, 96 S.Ct. 2532, 2538, 49 L.Ed.2d 451 (1976); Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 242, 96 S.Ct. 2543, 2547, 49 L.Ed.2d 466 (1976).*fn6

It is true that "state statutes may create liberty interests that are entitled to the procedural protections of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment." Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 488, 100 S.Ct. 1254, 1261, 63 L.Ed.2d 552 (1980). In the context of intrastate prison transfers, a state statute creates a liberty interest in remaining in a particular penal institution only when that statute places a "substantive limitation on the prison officials' exercise of discretion" to transfer an inmate. Shango v. Jurich, 681 F.2d 1091, 1101 (7th Cir. 1982). See also Harris v. McDonald, 737 F.2d 662 (7th Cir. 1984).

Under Illinois law, prison officials have no discretion to transfer convicted 17 year olds from the Juvenile Division of the IDOC to its Adult Division.*fn7 Rather, Section 3-10-7 of the Illinois Code of Corrections provides that the sentencing court shall determine whether or not a juvenile under 17 years of age when sentenced shall remain under the auspices of the Juvenile Division when he turns 17 years old. Further, a convicted person originally committed to the Juvenile Division is not required by law to be transferred to the Adult Division until he turns 21 years old; until that time, the sentencing court retains jurisdiction over such persons. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, ¶¶ 1005-8-6(c), 1003-10-7(a), (c). Thus, the Illinois statute creates a liberty interest for convicted persons aged 17 to 21 in remaining in the Juvenile Division of the IDOC if they were originally committed there.

In this case, plaintiff Cooper is a pretrial detainee, and thus is outside the scope of the Illinois Code of Corrections, and within the jurisdiction of the Cook County Department of Corrections. Plaintiff argues that nonetheless he has a substantive due process right to a judicial hearing before transfer to Cook County Jail. To establish this claim, plaintiff relies solely on Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979), where the Supreme Court noted: "pretrial detainees, who have not been convicted of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.