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ALEXANDER v. REID

March 28, 2003

WINDSOR ALEXANDER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELLIS E. REID; PAUL BERVID; RICHARD DEVINE; DR. SHAN, OF THE CERMAK HEALTH SERVICES DIVISION OF COOK COUNTY JAIL; CERMAK HEALTH SERVICES; COOK COUNTY JAIL; AND COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se Plaintiff Windsor Alexander ("Alexander") sued Defendants, alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant Ellis E. Reid ("Reid") has moved to dismiss the complaint as it relates to him pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein, Reid's motion is granted.

STANDARDS

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of the complaint; it is not designed to resolve the case on the merits. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). When determining whether to grant this type of motion, a court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences on plaintiff's behalf. Jang v. A.M. Miller & Assocs., 122 F.3d 480, 483 (7th Cir. 1997). A court should dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) only if "it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S.Ct. 2229, 2232, 81 L.Ed.2d 59 (1984). A plaintiff cannot satisfy federal pleading requirements, however, merely by attaching bare legal conclusions to narrated facts that fail to outline the basis of his claims. Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991).

BACKGROUND

The relevant allegations are taken from Alexander's Amended Complaint and his Response to Reid's Motion to Dismiss.*fn1 For purposes of adjudicating Reid's motion to dismiss, the Court accepts these allegations as true. Jang, 122 F.3d at 483.

In the late 1998, Alexander appeared in Justice Reid's courtroom in connection with a lawsuit that Alexander had filed against his former employer. At the time, Reid was a Cook County Circuit Court Judge in Illinois. During the proceedings, Alexander became displeased with some of Reid's comments. Alexander, believing that Reid was biased against him, filed a petition to substitute Reid for cause under 735 ILCS 5/2-1001(3). Alexander also drafted four criminal complaints against Reid and attached them to his motion to substitute. The petition was ultimately heard by another judge and was denied. Additionally, Alexander lodged a complaint against Reid with the Judicial Inquiry Board.

Approximately three months later, Alexander's lawsuit went to trial, with Reid presiding over the action. Alexander prevailed on one of two counts. After the verdict, Reid stated that he would draft an order reflecting these judgments. The next day, Reid presented the order to the parties. He then began to comment both on Alexander's petition to substitute and the attached criminal complaints against Reid. Reid told Alexander in open court that he was a good friend of Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine. Reid stated that Alexander should expect to be charged with a crime on the basis of Reid's filings.*fn2 Reid presented both parties with a copy of a letter he had drafted to Devine urging Alexander's prosecution. Later, Reid followed up on the matter with Devine, who then enlisted the aid of Paul Bervid, an Assistant State's Attorney. Bervid sought an indictment against Alexander. The grand jury returned a sixteen count indictment against Alexander for perjury and forgery. Based on these charges, Alexander was arrested on March 12, 2000 and was placed in custody in the Cook County Jail. He remained in custody until July 25, 2001, when he went to trial — representing himself — and was found not guilty verdicts on all charges.

Alexander filed a complaint against Reid, Devine, Bervid, Cermak Health Services, Dr. Shan of Cermak Health Services, Cook County Jail, and Cook County, Illinois on October 2, 2002. In his Amended Complaint, filed on February 6, 2003, Alexander brings a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Reid, Bervid and Devine. He claims that those Defendants conspired to charge him with a crime, even though each knew that Alexander had not committed a crime.

ANALYSIS

I. Reid Is Entitled To Judicial Immunity

Reid has moved to dismiss the claim against him on the basis of judicial immunity. It is well established that a judge enjoys absolute immunity from liability for damages if the complained of acts were performed (1) within his or her jurisdiction and (2) in a judicial capacity. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12, 112 S.Ct. 286, 288, 116 L.Ed.2d 9, (1991). "Few doctrines were more solidly established at common law than the immunity of judges from liability for damages for acts committed within their judicial jurisdiction." Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 1217, 18 L.Ed.2d 288 (1967). A judge is entitled to absolute immunity even where he or she has allegedly acted maliciously and corruptly. Id. at 554, 87 S.Ct. at 1217. The doctrine applies in full force to Section 1983 actions. Id.

A. Reid's Acts were within his Jurisdiction

As to the first prong of this test, the question is not whether Reid acted in excess of his jurisdiction, but rather whether he acted in the clear absence of jurisdiction at all. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57, 98 S.Ct. 1099, 1105, 55 L.Ed.2d 331 (1978). The outcome of this factor is clear. Reid was the trial judge for Alexander's case.*fn3 The evidence upon which Reid based his referral to the state prosecutor's office was attached by Alexander to a filing in that case. Under no set of facts consistent with Plaintiff's allegations can the Court find that Reid acted in the clear absence of jurisdiction. It is irrelevant that Reid may have already entered ...


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