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WILLIAMS v. CICERO POLICE DEPARTMENT

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division


March 19, 2003

CLYDE WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CICERO POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur, Senior United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Clyde Williams ("Williams") has just submitted a self-prepared one-page handwritten Complaint against the Cicero Police Department ("Department"), coupled with his filled-out forms of an In Forma Pauperis Application ("Application") and Motion for Appointment of Counsel ("Motion"). Although nonlawyer Williams is understandably unaware (1) that the Department is not a suable legal entity and (2) that in all events a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint of this nature should target the police officers involved rather than the Department or the Town of Cicero itself, this Court concludes that under the teaching of Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam) — which calls for reading such pro se pleadings with a particularly generous eye — the action should be permitted to proceed.

Because the Application does provide a satisfactory showing as to Williams' inability to pay the $150 filing fee, his request for in forma pauperis status is granted. As for the Motion, however, Williams has not satisfied our Court of Appeals' requirement that a plaintiff must reflect some efforts to obtain legal representation on his or her own before the court can be in a position to appoint counsel to handle the matter. Accordingly fresh copies of the Motion form are being transmitted to Williams with a copy of this memorandum order — and as soon as he completes those forms with some appropriate showing of an unsuccessful attempt or attempts on his part to retain legal counsel, this Court will act on the renewed Motion.

As and when that takes place, this Court will expect to look to the appointed counsel to engage in appropriate efforts to ascertain the identity of the officer or officers who engaged in the asserted violation of Williams' Fourth Amendment rights.*fn1 Until then, the "Cicero Police Department" will remain as the nominal party defendant, despite the difficulties in that respect identified earlier in this memorandum order.


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