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QUINN v. VILLAGE OF STEGER POLICE OFFICER JOAN L.

May 19, 1989

CLAUDINE QUINN, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF STEGER POLICE OFFICER JOAN L. CAIN, J. GILKISON, and private citizens RICHARD De FRANCESCO, and MICHAEL De FRANCESCO, Defendants


Marvin E. Aspen, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Two of the defendants, Village of Steger Police Officers Joan L. Cain and John Gilkison *fn1" ("police officers") have moved for partial summary judgment on the claims against them. For the reasons set forth below, their motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 I

 Background

 This case arises out of a September 5, 1986 automobile accident in the Village of Steger, Illinois. According to the complaint, the following occurred. One of the private defendants, Michael De Francesco, rear-ended the car driven by the plaintiff, Claudine Quinn. Both drivers got out of the car, and De Francesco started yelling racial slurs at Quinn, a black woman. De Francesco's father, Richard De Francesco, the other private defendant, soon arrived on the scene, and he, too, began yelling racial slurs. Shortly after that, the two police officers appeared at the site of the accident. Quinn attempted to give her version of events, but Officer Cain would not listen, and moments later, one or more of the defendants began beating Quinn, without provocation or legal justification. The police officers then falsely arrested Quinn and took her to the Steger police station. The police officers, in order to cover up their actions, then fabricated a story that she had committed the offenses of battery, obstructing a peace officer ("obstruction"), and resisting arrest, and charged Quinn with these offenses falsely and without probable cause.

 At her bench trial on these charges, the state chose to drop the battery charge against Quinn. See People v. Quinn, No. 86 MC6 008562, Circuit Ct. of Cook County (Nov. 17, 1986), Transcript at 5, attached as Exh. D to Police Officers' Local Rule 12(1) statement. Quinn pleaded not guilty, id. at 2, and agreed to stipulate to the testimony of Officer Cain, but not to its truthfulness. See id. at 4-5; see also Quinn's Local Rule 12(m) Statement para. 18. She did not otherwise contest the matter. Transcript at 5. Judge Marvin E. Gavin found Quinn guilty of resisting arrest and obstruction, *fn2" and sentenced her to three months of supervision.

 On August 9, 1988, Quinn brought the present four-count complaint against the police officers and the De Francescos. The complaint is, to say the least, somewhat confusing. Count I, labeled " 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claim, false arrest against police defendants," alleges that the police officers violated (a) Quinn's fourteenth amendment right "to be free from summary punishment and deprivation of liberty without due process of law"; (b) her fourteenth amendment right to equal protection of the law; (c) her fourth and fourteenth amendment rights to be free from unreasonable arrest, searches, and seizures; and (d) her thirteenth amendment right to be free from the badges and indicia of slavery. These acts, according to Quinn, violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. Count II alleges that the police officers and the De Francescos conspired to violate Quinn's constitutional rights under the fourth, thirteenth, and fourteenth amendments. It is not completely clear, but Quinn presumably is referring to the same violations alleged in Count I. It is also not clear what statutory violation Quinn is claiming. The heading states that Count II is a "§ 1983, § 1985 Conspiracy Claim," while the paragraphs of the count purport to be based on violations of Sections 1981 and 1985, but not 1983. It appears to us that Count II is actually meant to state a claim under Sections 1981 and 1985 only. A Section 1983 claim would be redundant with regard to the police officers, and would not apply to the De Francescos, since they are not state actors. The two remaining counts allege state tort law claims and are not at issue in this motion.

 The police officers originally moved to dismiss Counts I and II. In her response to the motion to dismiss, Quinn voluntarily withdrew her thirteenth amendment claim in Count I. The police officers suggest that she meant to withdraw her thirteenth amendment claim in Count II as well, but we are unwilling to assume that she has done so. At any rate, before filing their reply to Quinn's response, the police officers filed a motion for summary judgment in lieu of their previously filed motion to dismiss. The motion seeks summary judgment with respect to Counts I and II, with the exception of the excessive force claim under Section 1983. The officers argue that Quinn's convictions in state court bar her claims for false arrest and conspiracy under Sections 1983 and 1985. We will consider the 1983 claim first.

 II

 1983 Claim

 A. False Arrest

 Under 28 U.S.C. § 1738 (1982), state judicial proceedings "have the same full faith and credit [in federal court] as they have by law or usage in the courts" in the particular state. Thus, a federal court presented with civil rights claims under Section 1983 must give collateral estoppel effect to state court judgments. Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 96-101, 101 S. Ct. 411, 416-18, 66 L. Ed. 2d 308 (1980); Farmer v. Lane, 864 F.2d 473, 476 (7th Cir. 1988). As 28 U.S.C. § 1738 suggests, a federal court must apply the state's collateral estoppel rules when determining whether a prior state court judgment bars litigation of a Section 1983 claim. Haring v. Prosise, 462 U.S. 306, 314, 103 S. Ct. 2368, 2373, 76 L. Ed. 2d 595 (1983); Bailey v. Andrews, 811 F.2d 366, 369 (7th Cir. 1987).

 Under Illinois law as well as under Section 1983, the existence of probable cause acts as an absolute bar to a false arrest or false imprisonment claim. See Friedman v. Village of Skokie, 763 F.2d 236, 239 (7th Cir. 1985); Terket v. Lund, 623 F.2d 29, 31 (7th Cir. 1980). The officers argue that Quinn's convictions for resisting arrest and obstruction "conclusively establishes probable cause" for her arrest on those charges. See Officers' Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment ("Memo") at 5. This overstates the collateral estoppel effects of a criminal conviction under Illinois law. The Illinois courts have held that a prior conviction acts only as prima facie evidence of the facts upon which the conviction is based. Bay State Insurance Co. v. Wilson, 96 Ill. 2d 487, 492, 451 N.E.2d 880, 882, 71 Ill. Dec. 726 (1983); Thornton v. Paul, 74 Ill. 2d 132, 151, 384 N.E.2d 335, 343, 23 Ill. Dec. 541 (1978); State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Shelton, 176 Ill. App. 3d 858, 862, 531 N.E.2d 913, 916, 126 Ill. Dec. 286 (1st Dist. 1988); see also Rodriguez v. Schweiger, 796 F.2d 930, 933 (7th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1018, 107 S. Ct. 1899, 95 L. Ed. 2d 506 (1987). Quinn's conviction for resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer is therefore prima facie evidence that she actually resisted arrest and obstructed Officer Cain. In many cases, prima facie evidence of the crime will not necessarily translate into prima facie evidence of probable cause, as one judge in this district seems to suggest. See Adamson v. Volkmer, 680 F. Supp. 1191, 1199 (N.D.Ill. 1987). Just because a person committed a crime does not mean that the police had probable cause to believe that he did so when they arrested him. However in this case, Quinn's crimes, if they occurred, occurred in the presence of the police officers. Therefore, prima facie evidence of the crimes would, if unrebutted, establish that the crimes took place in the presence of the officers, and that they ...


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