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BOOKER v. WARD

May 9, 1995

CHARLES BOOKER, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES WARD, THOMAS KELLY, CITY OF CHICAGO, a municipal corporation, WILLIAM OWENS, and TORRENCE LEWIS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM T. HART

 Plaintiff Charles Booker brings this action against defendants City of Chicago and four Chicago police detectives, James Ward, Thomas Kelly, William Owens, and Torrence Lewis. The Amended Complaint contains two counts. Count I is a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which it is alleged that the four detectives *fn1" are responsible for arresting him without probable cause. Count II is a state law claim for malicious prosecution against the City, Kelly, and Ward. Defendants have moved to dismiss certain claims. Owens and Lewis, who were not named as defendants until the amended complaint was filed in February 1995, contend that Count I is untimely as to them. The City, Kelly, and Ward contend that Count II fails to state a claim because plaintiff does not satisfy the requirement that the state law proceeding be terminated in a manner indicative of his innocence.

 On a motion to dismiss, all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint are taken as true and all possible inferences are drawn in plaintiff's favor. Thompson v. Boggs, 33 F.3d 847, 852 (7th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 131 L. Ed. 2d 556, 115 S. Ct. 1692 (April 17, 1995); City National Bank of Florida v. Checkers, Simon & Rosner, 32 F.3d 277, 281 (7th Cir. 1994). "A complaint need not narrate all relevant facts or recite the law, all it has to do is set out a claim for relief." Hrubec v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., 981 F.2d 962, 963 (7th Cir. 1992). On the other hand, a court is not "required 'to ignore any facts set forth in the complaint that undermine the plaintiff's claim or assign any weight to unsupported conclusions of law.'" Checkers, 32 F.3d at 281 (quoting Scott v. O'Grady, 975 F.2d 366, 368 (7th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 124 L. Ed. 2d 643, 113 S. Ct. 2421 (1993)). Although not alleged in the amended complaint, the parties agree that judicial notice may be taken of the state court rulings in plaintiff's related criminal proceedings. See Mandarino v. Pollard, 718 F.2d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 830, 83 L. Ed. 2d 59, 105 S. Ct. 116 (1984); Dobiecki v. Palacios, 829 F. Supp. 229, 232 (N.D. Ill. 1993); C.A. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1363 at 464-65 (2d ed. 1990).

 Booker was tried in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. At pretrial proceedings, Booker challenged the admissibility of his post-arrest statements on the ground that he had been arrested without probable cause. The trial court indicated there had not initially been probable cause to arrest him on the murder charges. However, it found that, following the polygraph results and an admission that Booker had falsely told the officers he had not been in the area of his fiancee's house the night of the murder, there was probable cause to arrest Booker for obstruction of justice charges. The trial court held that the existence of probable cause on those charges supported the arrest even if the officers had not subjectively relied on such charges. Booker's motion to suppress the statements was denied. Following trial before a jury, Booker was found guilty of murdering his fiancee and was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment.

 Booker appealed his conviction. In an opinion dated January 25, 1991, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Booker's conviction and remanded the case for further proceedings. See People v. Booker, 209 Ill. App. 3d 384, 568 N.E.2d 211, 154 Ill. Dec. 211 (1st Dist. 1991) ("Booker I"). The Appellate Court held that, at sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. while Booker was waiting at the police station (that is, before his formal arrest), his voluntary presence at the police station became an involuntary arrest. Id. at 217-218. It was further held that, as of that time, probable cause did not exist to arrest him on murder charges. Id. at 218. Alternatively, it was held that probable cause did not exist as of the time he was formally placed under arrest. Id. The trial court's reliance on there being probable cause to arrest Booker on an obstruction of justice charge was rejected on the ground that Booker was actually arrested prior to the polygraph examination or his admission that he had initially been untruthful about his whereabouts. Id. Alternatively, it was held that there was insufficient evidence to support probable cause for obstruction of justice and that, in any event, the arrest could not be justified by charges not relied upon by the police officers. Id. The Appellate Court, however, was unable to determine whether Booker's statements should be considered fruits of an unlawful arrest, an issue that had not been reached below because the trial court had found there was a lawful arrest. The prosecution had sought to present evidence that the statements were not causally related to the arrest, but the trial court declined to hear such evidence on the ground that the evidence already submitted had shown that the arrest was lawful. The Appellate Court, therefore, remanded the case for an "attenuation hearing" to determine whether any facts existed showing a break in any chain between the arrest and the statements. Id. at 218-19.

 Following the remand, the trial court heard further evidence. The trial court found that the statements were attenuated from the arrest because of the intervening circumstance of Booker being informed that his alibi was false. At his fiancee's home, Booker had told the officers that he had stayed at another girlfriend's house the night that his fiancee was murdered. That girlfriend, however, had told the police that Booker had not stayed there. The trial court again held that the statements were admissible and the conviction was reinstated. As a result of a second appeal, the Appellate Court held that the trial court's findings were against the manifest weight of the evidence because the alibi and denial had been obtained as a result of an arrest without probable cause that had occurred prior to the formal arrest and the evidence could not be a basis for finding the statements attenuated. People v. Booker, No. 92-0956, unpublished order at 9-11 (1st Dist., Ill. App. Ct. Feb. 25, 1994) ("Booker II"). On October 11, 1994, the trial court dismissed the charges upon the prosecution's motion for a nolle prosequi order.

 The first question to be resolved is when plaintiff's claims under § 1983 accrued for purposes of applying the applicable two year statute of limitations. In order to resolve this question, it is necessary to identify the nature of the § 1983 claim. Here the claim is for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment because probable cause did not exist to detain plaintiff.

 Central to the statute of limitations argument made by Owens and Lewis is key language in a recent Supreme Court decision, Heck v. Humphrey, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383, 114 S. Ct. 2364 (1994). The Supreme Court stated:

 
We hold that in order to recover damages for . . . harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid,*fn6" ] a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. . . . The district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; . . . If the district court determines that the plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed,*fn7" ] . . . .
 
f *fn6" An example of this . . .--a § 1983 action that does not seek damages directly attributable to conviction or confinement but whose successful prosecution would necessarily imply that the plaintiff's criminal conviction was wrongful--would be the following: A state defendant is convicted of and sentenced for the crime of resisting arrest, defined as intentionally preventing a peace officer from effecting a lawful arrest. [Citations omitted.] He then brings a § 1983 action against the arresting officer, seeking damages for violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. In order to prevail in this § 1983 action, he would have to negate an element of the offense of which he has been convicted. . . .
 
f *fn7" For example, a suit for damages attributable to an allegedly unreasonable search may lie even if the challenged search produced evidence that was introduced in a state criminal trial resulting in the § 1983 plaintiff's still-outstanding conviction. Because of doctrines like independent source and inevitable discovery, [citations omitted], and especially harmless error, [citation omitted], such a § 1983 action even if successful, would not necessarily imply that the plaintiff's conviction was unlawful. In order to recover compensatory damages, however, the § 1983 plaintiff must prove not only that the search was unlawful, but that it caused him actual, compensable injury, [citations omitted], which we hold today does not encompass the "injury" of being convicted and imprisoned (until his conviction has been overturned).

 Id. at 2372 & nn. 6-7 (emphasis in original).

 Plaintiff contends success on the arrest without probable cause claim would necessarily imply that his previously existing conviction was invalid because it would have implied that his statements were based on an unlawful arrest and therefore not admissible. Therefore, he contends that he could not bring this claim until after his conviction had been vacated by the trial court in October 1994. Defendants focus on the language of footnote 7 and contend that a successful challenge to the lawfulness of his arrest does not "necessarily imply" the invalidity of the conviction because the conviction could still have been upheld on the ground that the statements were attenuated from the arrest or there may have still been other evidence to support his conviction. Therefore, they contend that the claim accrued when Booker was arrested in ...


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