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Lewis v. O'Grady

decided: July 21, 1988.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 81 C 3833, Brian Barnett Duff, Judge.

William J. Bauer, Chief Judge, Joel M. Flaum, and Michael A. Kanne, Circuit Judges.

Author: Kanne

ANNE, Circuit Judge.

The question on appeal concerns the reasonableness of a delay in the release of a defendant from custody after the basis for his detention had ended. Sandy Lewis was arrested and detained on an arrest warrant issued for another person. Lewis based his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action for false arrest and imprisonment on the 11 or so hours he spent in custody after a judge determined that he was not the person named in the arrest warrant. He also brought a class action which was initially certified and later decertified. As a result of settlements made with some of the defendants and the dismissals of several other defendants, only Sheriff Elrod, in his official capacity, remained in the suit. The district court, following a jury trial, granted a directed verdict in favor of the sheriff. Lewis challenges the directed verdict, the dismissals of certain individual, defendants and the class decertification order. We affirm the district court as to the dismissals and decertification and we reverse the lower court order granting a directed verdict and remand in order to allow a jury to determine whether the length of Lewis' detention was reasonable.


On Saturday, March 28, 1981, at about 9:30 p.m., Sandy Lewis was arrested by Chicago policemen for disorderly conduct involving drinking in public.*fn3 The officers ran a mobile computer check which indicated that there was an outstanding warrant in the name of "Murray Brown alias Michael Lewis" issued for bond forfeiture on an underlying offense of possession of controlled substances. Unknown to the arresting officers, the warrant that was displayed when they checked the mobile computer in their squad car had been recalled on December 5, 1980.

On the basis of the arrest warrant, Lewis was placed in Chicago police custody overnight. He was then sent by the police to Holiday Court early the next day, Sunday, March 29, 1981. Lewis was unable to post the $30,000.00 bond previously set on the Murray Brown warrant and was placed in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC")*fn4 and transported to a central county jail located in Chicago.

At approximately 7:00 a.m., the following morning, Monday, March 30, 1981, CCDOC officers transported Lewis (by custodial bus along with approximately 50 other prisoners) to the Sixth District Courthouse of the Circuit Court of Cook County located in Markham, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. Lewis was delivered to Cook County sheriff's deputies and placed in the court lockup pending the call of his case. He then appeared before Judge Marovich at approximately 10:30 a.m. He was represented by the public defender who explained to the judge that Lewis' arrest, on the warrant for Murray Brown, was the result of a case of mistaken identity.*fn5 In order to make inquiries into Lewis' contentions, the judge returned Lewis to the court lockup while a routine identity investigation was completed.*fn6

A deputy sheriff questioned Lewis about his personal history (his place of birth, parents' names, social security number, etc.) and determined that he was indeed Sandy Lewis and not Murray Brown. Following the investigation, Lewis was again brought before Judge Marovich who apologized for the mix-up, stating: "We have arrested the wrong man. We performed a thorough investigation. We determined that you are Sandy Lewis, you are not Murray Brown. We're very sorry about this." Lewis requested that the judge give him something to prove he was not Murray Brown, because he had been confused with Brown before. The judge filled out and gave Lewis a defendant custodial sheet indicating that "this party Sandy Lewis is not Murray Brown."

After appearing before Judge Marovich the second time, Lewis was sent back to a cell to await transportation to the jail.*fn7 Two daily CCDOC custodial buses transport prisoners for the one-hour trip between the Markham branch court and the jail. On March 30, the first bus left the court by 1:30 p.m.--before Lewis made his final appearance before Judge Marovich. Consequently, Lewis had to wait for the second bus, which left at approximately 6:00 p.m. He remained in CCDOC custody until his ultimate release at about 10:00 p.m.

Lewis brought suit for false arrest and imprisonment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Chicago, four individual policemen, Richard J. Elrod (both individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois), Phillip Hardiman (Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections) and Frank Jones (Assistant Supervisor of Courtroom Services for the Sheriff of Cook County). The City of Chicago and the individual police officers (Mark Tully, Fred Eckles, Patrick Lynch and Edward Lanuto) were named solely in Lewis' claim for false arrest. They entered into a settlement with Lewis for $12,500.00 and were dismissed from the case.


A jury trial was held before Judge Duff on Lewis' § 1983 false imprisonment claim against Richard Elrod in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Cook County. At the close of Lewis' case, the court granted a directed verdict in favor of Sheriff Elrod. Lewis appeals.

This court has determined that "in reviewing a district court's grant of a motion for directed verdict . . . the standard to be applied is the same as that applied by the trial court." North v. Madison Area Association for Retarded Citizens, 844 F.2d 401, 403 (7th Cir. 1988); Panter v. Marshall Field & Co., 646 F.2d 271, 281 (7th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1092, 70 L. Ed. 2d 631, 102 S. Ct. 658 (1981).

It is clearly established that the judge decides the question "not whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury can properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it . . . Gunning v. Cooley, 281 U.S. 90, 94, 74 L. Ed. 720, 50 S. Ct. 231 (1930), (quoting Improvement Co. v. Munson, 81 U.S. (14 Wall.) 442, 448, 20 L. Ed. 867 (1871)); North, slip op. at 3; Van Houdnos v. Evans, 807 F.2d 648, 650 (7th Cir. 1986).

Since directed verdicts raise only a question of law, the standard of review used by the court of appeals is de novo. North, slip op. at 3; Webb v. City of Chester, Illinois, 813 F.2d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 1987); McMahon ...

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