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O'BRIEN v. ATTORNEY REG. AND DIS. COMM. OF THE S.C.

May 16, 2001

ERROL C. O'BRIEN, PLAINTIFF,
V.
ATTORNEY REGISTRATION AND DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION OF THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS; MARY ROBINSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS; AND JAY JANSSEN, BENEDICT SCHWARZ, JOHN KUJAWSKI,[FN1] JAMES MCDONOUGH, PATRICIA BOBB, DONN BAILEY, AND BRIAN MCFADDEN, EACH SUED IN HIS OR HER CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER FOR THE ATTORNEY REGISTRATION AND DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION OF THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS AND NOT INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge.

May Plaintiff maintain a civil rights action seeking tens of millions of dollars for the ARDC's failure after a lengthy investigation to continue to process his complaint against certain attorneys?

Not in this Court.

Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is ALLOWED.

I. FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff Errol C. O'Brien brings this pro se action alleging a violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Defendants include the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois ("ARDC"). Another Defendant is Mary Robinson who is sued individually and in her capacity as Administrator of the ARDC. The other Defendants include Jay Janssen, Benedict Schwarz, John Kujawski, James McDonough, Patricia Bobb, Donn Bailey and Brian McFadden, all of whom are sued solely in their official capacities as Commissioners for the ARDC.

The complaint alleges that between January 1992 and March 1997, charges were filed with Defendants ARDC and Robinson against various attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois including but not limited to Michael Daley, Jack George, William Daley, Richard M. Daley, the Law Firm of Daley and George, Steve Hanson, John J. Jiganti, Donald Johnson, David Stein and Gerald Kalish. The ARDC indicated that pursuant to its rules, it conducted an investigation of the aforementioned attorneys for five years which included a hearing in 1996 before a panel of the Inquiry Board. Plaintiff was eventually informed by Scott Renfroe, Senior Counsel of the ARDC, that the investigation was closed and that formal charges would not be filed against any of the attorneys.

Plaintiff next alleges that "[a]dditional actions were taken by the employees of the ARDC and the Plaintiff filed charges at the ARDC against the Defendant Mary Robinson and two additional ARDC staff attorneys being Scott Renfroe and James J. Grogan." Plaintiffs request that the Illinois Supreme Court appoint a "special investigator" to look into these charges was denied. Plaintiff seems to allege that the Illinois Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to deny this motion.*fn2

The complaint next alleges that Defendant Robinson while acting individually and in her capacity as Administrator of the ARDC directed ARDC employees not to give the charges case numbers. Moreover, she exceeded her capacity in individually making the decision that the three charges against herself and employees of the ARDC acting under her direction and control would be handled internally and that nothing else would be done. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that because of Robinson's personal interest in the outcome of the charges, she had a conflict of interest. Plaintiff contends that this violated his substantive due process rights pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to have his complaints reviewed by an impartial administrator.

The complaint further alleges that the other individual Defendants, as commissioners, and Defendant ARDC have ratified and adopted the decision of their Administrator by refusing to overturn said decision and willfully allowing it to stand, thereby allowing the continued violation of Plaintiff's civil rights. Plaintiff alleges that the investigation was principally conducted by ARDC Senior Counsel Scott Renfroe, who improperly advised the Inquiry Board as to its duties. Moreover, the complaint alleges that due to the improper advice, the board conducted a "Mini Trial" specifically forbidden by the Rules.

Plaintiff has alleged four counts. Count I is entitled "Compensatory Damages" and seeks $27, 450, 000.00 in damages. Count II is entitled "Nominal Damages" and seeks the sum of $10.00 in damages. Count III is entitled "Punitive Damages" and seeks the sum of $1, 000, 000.00. Count IV is entitled "Compensatory Damages Sec. William Daley Charge" and seeks the sum of $27,450,000.00.*fn3 Defendants have waived service of process and filed the instant motion. Plaintiff has failed to file a response to the motion in violation of Local Rule 7.1(B)(1).

II. LEGAL STANDARD FOR MOTIONS TO DISMISS

In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court "must accept well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true. In addition, the Court must view these allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). Although a complaint is not required to contain a detailed outline of the claim's basis, it nevertheless "must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984). Mere conclusions, without supporting factual allegations, are insufficient to support a claim for relief. See Cohen v. Illinois Inst. of Tech., 581 F.2d 658, 663 (7th Cir. 1978). Dismissal should not be granted "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45 (1957).

Moreover, a pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded," must be liberally construed and held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, even under this lenient standard, "conclusory allegations unsupported by any factual assertions will not withstand a motion to ...


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