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CRESPO v. ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE INVESTIGATOR

April 26, 2004.

WALESKA VICTORIA CASTILLO CRESPO, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE INVESTIGATOR, RANDY RAILEY, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Waleska Victoria Castillo Crespo ("Castillo") has sued Defendant Randy Railey, Illinois Secretary of State ("SOS") Investigator, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated her civil rights by arresting her without probable cause. Defendant has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff was born in Cook County, Illinois and lived in Puerto Rico until August of 2002. She lived in Illinois until the age of three, when her family moved to Puerto Rico. School District U46 held a recruiting session in Puerto Rico. to recruit teachers to work in the United States. Castillo accepted a teaching position with the District. She thereafter signed a contract with the District to teach at Larkin High School in Elgin, Illinois during the Fall 2002/Spring 2003 school year.

  Defendant Randy Railey is employed by the Illinois SOS Police Department as an investigator. He has over 21 years experience in law enforcement, and has worked with the SOS police since April of 2000. His duties include making traffic stops, conducting criminal investigations and testifying in court. The SOS trained Railey in dealing with false documents and identifying fraudulent identification cards. Before August 16, 2002, Officer Railey had reviewed documents brought to him by SOS employees on 50-100 occasions, and had arrested an estimated 75 to 100 people for having fraudulent documents.

  In 2002, Officer Railey worked both from an office and from his squad car. He also used the SOS facility in Elgin as a substation to complete paperwork. When working in the SOS office building, one of Railey's responsibilities is to advise the clerical staff of the validity of identification documents. When Officer Railey questions the validity of documents submitted to the SOS, he normally takes the person into custody, creating a detention situation, until he conducts further investigation.

  On August 16, 2002, Castillo went to the SOS's office in Elgin, Illinois to apply for an Illinois driver's license. Castillo presented three forms of identification to Sherry Soderberg, an SOS employee, at the Elgin license facility: an original, laminated social security card; a Cook County, Illinois birth certificate; and a driver's license from Puerto Rico. Some of the numbers on her driver's license were not fully printed and hard to read. Soderberg took Castillo's forms of identification to Officer Railey for review because she thought Castillo's driver's license had been altered. After reviewing the identification forms, Officer Railey arrested Castillo for making a false application for a driver's license. He had never seen the Puerto Rican driver's license format submitted by Castillo, the numbers on her license were not fully printed, and he observed a pen and ink change on the social security card. Railey arrested Castillo at the counter, handcuffed her hands behind her back, and took her into custody. Railey took Castillo to his office, removed her hands from behind her back, removed one cuff and attached it to the wall. Castillo sat in a chair.

  Officer Railey then verified Castillo's social security number, reviewed other identification documents in Castillo's purse, including her credit cards and voter registration card, and reviewed a book in his vehicle which contained a picture of a Puerto Rico. license that matched Castillo's license format. Officer Railey released Castillo and she received her Illinois driver's license. The entire incident with Officer Railey lasted approximately 25 minutes.

  ANALYSIS

 I. Legal Standard

  Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986)). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). A party will successfully oppose summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n v. Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court "considers the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor." Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002).

 II. Railey Had Probable Cause to Arrest Castillo

  "It is well settled that the actual existence of probable cause to arrest precludes a § 1983 suit for false arrest." Juriss v. McGowan, 957 F.2d 345, 349 n. 1 (7th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted). Indeed, "a person arrested with probable cause cannot cry false arrest" Id. Thus, if Defendant had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, her Section 1983 claim is barred.

  "In order to have probable cause for an arrest, law enforcement agents must reasonably believe, in light of the facts and circumstances within their knowledge at the time of the arrest, that the suspect had committed or was committing an offense." Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 775 (7th Cir. 2003), citing United States v. Hayes, 236 F.3d 891, 894 (7th Cir. 2001). "The test is an objective one and evaluates whether probable cause existed on the facts as they appeared to a reasonable police officer, even if the reasonable belief of that officer is ultimately found to be incorrect." Id. Probable cause is an appropriate determination for summary judgment "when there is no room for a difference of opinion concerning the facts or the reasonable inferences to be drawn from them." Lanigan v. Village of East Hazel Crest, 110 F.3d 467, 473 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations ...


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