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March 27, 2000


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


M.C. is 14 years old and a resident of Chicago, Illinois. On April 5, 1999, he was arrested at a Chicago public school, charged with criminal trespass to land, and detained in custody at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center of Cook County, of which defendant Jesse Doyle serves as superintendent. Because the state sought to hold M.C. in custody until his delinquency hearing, the young suspect was brought before the juvenile court the following day for a detention hearing pursuant to 705 ILCS 405/5-501.

Under Illinois law a juvenile court may order a minor detained pending his or her delinquency hearing if the state establishes (a) probable cause to believe the minor is delinquent*fn1 and (b) an immediate and urgent necessity for the protection of the minor or other person or property. See 705 ILCS 405/5-501(2).*fn2 Under the amendments imposed by the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1998 (the "JJRA"), the juvenile court may consider, inter alia, "evidence by way of proffer based upon reliable information offered by the State or the minor." Id.; see also 405/5-501. According to plaintiff's complaint, once these amendments went into effect on January 1, 1999, the juvenile court has repeatedly found probable cause of delinquency based solely upon a state's attorney's unsworn proffer of information.

Plaintiff Michelle Carter, M.C.'s mother, cites the circumstances surrounding her son's detention as an example of this practice. Only minutes before M.C.'s detention hearing the assistant state's attorney served M.C.'s yet-to-be appointed public defender with a copy of the police report concerning M.C.'s arrest. At the hearing, the assistant state's attorney did not offer any evidence or any information under oath to demonstrate probable cause of delinquency, but rather proffered to the juvenile court "facts intended to establish" probable cause (cplt. ¶ 20). This proffer consisted of reading to the juvenile court portions of a police report.*fn3 Based solely upon the proffer, the juvenile court found probable cause to believe M.C. had committed a crime. The court further found the existence of an immediate and urgent need to detain M.C. pending trial. By the court's order, M.C. was detained in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center of Cook County until his trial.

Plaintiff, as next friend of M.C., complains that this practice (and the statute which permits it) violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.*fn4 She brings this class action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of herself and those similarly situated.*fn5 Defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), arguing, inter alia, that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to either the Younger abstention doctrine*fn6 or the Rooker-Feldman*fn7 doctrine, that plaintiff lacks standing to seek injunctive relief with respect to future detention hearings to which he is not a party, and that, in any case, the statute and practice are constitutional. Finally, defendants argue that Superintendent Doyle should be dismissed from the action because he is not responsible for enforcing Section 5-501.

Standards of Review

In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the court must accept as true each of the allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995). The motion should not be granted unless it appears that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts entitling him or her to the relief sought in the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Additionally, in ruling on a challenge to a federal court's subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1),*fn8 courts are authorized to consider materials outside the pleadings without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. English v. Cowell, 10 West Page 856 F.3d 434, 437 (7th Cir. 1993); Ezekiel, 66 F.3d at 897.


I. Abstention

Defendants first argue that the Younger abstention doctrine bars the relief which plaintiff requests and prohibits the exercise of federal jurisdiction in this matter. They argue that M.C. may not use the federal court to litigate his defenses in a pending state matter, and point to Nelson v. Murphy, 44 F.3d 497 (7th Cir. 1995), in which the court rejected an attempt by dissatisfied state court litigants (mental health patients challenging restricted treatment plans) to move adjudication of their case to federal court.

Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971), firmly established the principle that federal courts must not interfere with pending state criminal (and civil adjudicatory) proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances. Younger serves as a cautionary reminder to federal courts that while we are "anxious . . . to vindicate and protect federal rights and federal interests, . . . [we must] endeavor[] to do so in ways that will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the States." Id. at 44, 91 S.Ct. 746. Under the Younger doctrine abstention is required if (1) there are pending state judicial proceedings; (2) the state proceedings implicate important state interests; and (3) the state proceedings provide an adequate opportunity to raise federal questions. Trust & Investment Advisers, Inc. v. Hogsett, 43 F.3d 290, 295 (7th Cir. 1994), citing Middlesex County Ethics Committee v. Garden State Bar Association, 457 U.S. 423, 432, 102 S.Ct. 2515, 73 L.Ed.2d 116 (1982). When these criteria are met, "a district court must dismiss the federal action . . . [and] there is no discretion to grant injunctive relief." Juidice v. Vail, 430 U.S. 327, 337, 97 S.Ct. 1211, 51 L.Ed.2d 376 (1977). Certainly, juvenile detention proceedings implicate important state interests, among them the protection of the best interests of the minor and the safeguarding of the community, and plaintiff does not argue otherwise. She argues instead that neither the first or third prerequisites for Younger abstention are present. We agree.

In her responsive brief plaintiff clarifies that M.C.'s detention hearing has already concluded: one day after the federal complaint was filed M.C. entered into a plea agreement and was found delinquent (plf. response at 9 & n. 8; cplt. ¶ 21). Consequently, we need not abstain to avoid interfering with ongoing state proceedings. This case is thus distinguishable from Liedel v. Juvenile Court of Madison County, Alabama, 891 F.2d 1542 (11th Cir. 1990), cited by defendants, in which plaintiffs sought to enjoin a state juvenile court from issuing any further orders against them.

Alternatively, defendants argue that if M.C.'s juvenile court trial has concluded and a final judgment has been entered, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine*fn9 operates to bar this court from reviewing the juvenile court's acceptance of the state's proffer of facts during M.C.'s detention hearing. This argument, too, is unavailing on these facts. As the Seventh Circuit recently explained, the pivotal inquiry under Rooker-Feldman is whether the federal plaintiff seeks to set aside a state court judgment or whether he is, in fact, presenting an independent claim. Long v. Shorebank Development Corp., 182 F.3d 548 (7th Cir. 1999). Plaintiff does not seek to relitigate M.C.'s guilty plea or any necessary component of the state judgment. In other words, plaintiff is not attempting to "appeal" the state case through the back door of the federal courts. Plaintiff instead challenges the pre-trial detention procedures as an independent violation of M.C.'s due process rights. Neither doctrine, Rooker-Feldman or Younger, bars federal jurisdiction over plaintiff's individual claim.

But once plaintiff stipulates that the state case has concluded, we must consider whether plaintiff has standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief in which M.C. has no "personal stake." The case or controversy requirement imposed by Article III, § 2, of the Constitution "`subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate. . . . The parties must continue to have a `personal stake in the outcome' of the lawsuit.'" Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7, 118 S.Ct. 978, 140 L.Ed.2d 43 (1998), quoting Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477-478, 110 S.Ct. 1249, 108 L.Ed.2d 400 (1990). "This means that, throughout the litigation, the plaintiff `must have suffered, or be threatened with, an ...

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