The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUZANNE CONLON, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Northwestern University ("Northwestern") hired Rodolfo Espinoza as a
law library assistant on June 14, 1999. Northwestern terminated Espinoza
just six months later, in December 1999. Espinoza filed a pro se
complaint in federal court, alleging that Northwestern, the Illinois
Department of Human Rights, and the Chicago Police Department conspired
to violate his civil rights. He also alleged Northwestern discriminated
against him because he is Mexican-American, Ultimately, only Espinoza's
Title VII claims reached summary judgment And those claims proved
baseless: this court granted Northwestern summary judgment on Espinoza's
discrimination and retaliation claims. Minute Order, 7/24/2003, Doc. No.
54. The case was then referred to a magistrate judge for a report and
recommendation on Northwestern's motion for sanctions under Fed.R. Civ.
P. 11 and the court's inherent authority. Minute Order, 7/25/2003, Doc.
No. 56. After an evidentiary hearing, the magistrate judge recommended
Northwestern's motion for sanctions be granted and that sanctions be
imposed against Espinoza in the amount of $5,000. Minute Order, 11/19/03,
Doc. No. 66. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Espinoza objects to the
magistrate's recommendation to award sanctions.
The centerpiece of Espinoza's lawsuit is a group of documents he claims
to have received anonymously. Espinoza does not challenge the magistrate
judge's findings of fact, he merely asserts that he has no "firsthand
knowledge of the origins" of the documents at issue. Thus, the court
adopts the magistrate's factual findings. Lowe v. SRA/IBM Macmillan
Pension Plan, No. 01 C 58, 2003 WL 1565841, at *1 (N.D. Ill. March
25, 2003). The documents came in three sets. The first two sets purported
to be letters and memoranda among Espinoza's supervisors and Northwestern
officials regarding Espinoza's job performance and the reasons for his
dismissal. The third set of documents purports to be a series of
communications among senior Northwestern officials implicating
Northwestern, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and the Chicago
Police Department in a criminal conspiracy to violate Espinoza's
constitutional rights. The letters detail alleged assaults on Espinoza's
nephew, the fire-bombing of Espinoza's home, and tampering with public
Espinoza first sought to introduce these documents in an action before
the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Northwestern moved to bar the
documents. Northwestern supported its motion with affidavits of the
putative authors and recipients denying the documents' authenticity.
Northwestern also offered the expert opinion of a forensic document
examiner who concluded the documents' signatures were cut and pasted.
Espinoza did not object to the motions to strike and they were granted.
Espinoza then withdrew his Illinois Department of Human Rights case. He
attempted to use the documents in connection with a public hearing in
which he subsequently refused to participate.
Espinoza then brought his claims and documents to federal court.
Espinoza accused his supervisors of national origin discrimination and he
alleged Northwestern officials conspired with the Illinois Department of
Human Rights and the Chicago Police Department to intimidate and harass
him. Espinoza relied on the anonymous documents as the foundation for his
federal lawsuit. The documents were attached to his complaint and his
three amended complaints. The documents, as well as a handwritten log
detailing the discrimination he suffered at Northwestern, were produced
in his Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures. At his deposition, Espinoza testified
that he understood his filings with this court must be true and accurate.
Pre-trial discovery demonstrated that the documents and the handwritten
log were not authentic. The magistrate judge found Espinoza's deposition
contained many disturbing admissions. Espinoza conceded that the
affidavits of the purported Northwestern authors and recipients of the
anonymous documents denying authenticity were probably true. He
acknowledged that the first two sets of documents were inherently suspect
and likely forgeries. Espinoza admitted he had no plans to authenticate
the documents and that he had never investigated their authenticity
before incorporating them into his signed pleadings. Espinoza attempted
to enlist the help of a journalist and the Law Assistance Foundation but
was rebuffed because both questioned the authenticity of the documents.
The magistrate judge also found that the circumstances surrounding
Espinoza's receipt of the anonymous documents were suspicious. In his
purported document log, Espinoza labeled the first set of documents as
the "first set" before he received the other two sets of
documents in the mail. Espinoza's handwritten log also aroused suspicion.
Espinoza "discovered" the log only when he filed suit in federal court.
Moreover, Northwestern's ink chemist determined that the
log was prepared within 12 to 16.5 months prior to the lawsuit, not
during Espinoza's employment at Northwestern almost three years earlier.
The magistrate judge found that Espinoza acted in bad faith and
recommended an award of sanctions pursuant to Rule 11, For the most part,
Espinoza's objections merely recount the facts supporting the magistrate
judge's recommendation. See Pl's Obj. at ¶¶ 7, 10 (admits the
documents are forged and incredible). However, Espinoza presents two
cognizable objections. First, he denies any involvement in the actual
forgery of the documents. Pl's Obj. at ¶¶ 14, 20-21. Second, he
asserts Northwestern's motion for sanctions should be denied because he
lacks the ability to pay. Id. at ¶¶ 15-18.
In reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the
district court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of
the record to which a specific written objection is directed.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). However, the district court is not required to conduct
another hearing to review the magistrate's findings and credibility
determinations. Goffman v. Gross, 59 F.3d 668, 671 (7th Cir.
1995). Rather, the district court may accept, reject, or modify the
II. Espinoza's Objections
Initially, the court notes that Espinoza's objections do not comply
with Rule 72. He failed to submit the magistrate judge's recommendation
with his motion. Furthermore, his objections are untimely. Under Rule 72,
Espinoza had 10 days after service of the report and recommendation to
file his objections. Kruger v. Apfel, 214 F.3d 784, 786-87 (7th
The magistrate judge notified Espinoza of his decision at the November
19, 2003 hearing, orally stating his recommendation. The minute order
reflecting the decision was mailed to Espinoza the same day. Accordingly,
Espinoza's specific written objections were due December 10, 2003.
See Kruger, 214 F.3d at 786-87 (10 days plus 3 days for mailed
notice, excluding weekends and holidays). Espinoza did not file his
objections until January 7, 2004. However, the deadline for filing
objections is not jurisdictional. But Espinoza must demonstrate
sufficient cause for failing to timely object. United States v.
Raymond, 228 F.3d 804, 810 (7th Cir. 2000); Hunger v.
Leininger, 15 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 1994). Espinoza claims his
delinquency should be excused for two reasons: (1) because he never
received a copy of the magistrate judge's order; and (2) because of "the
many changes in [his] personal and work related environments." Espinoza
Aff. at ¶¶ 4-7. Espinoza does not support these conclusory arguments.
Given Espinoza's reckless approach to this litigation, the court finds
his statements dubious. See, e.g., Minute Order 9/26/03, Doc.
No. 65 (he failed to appear at status hearing); Minute Order ...