Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

RODRIGUEZ v. WOODALL

November 12, 2004.

ANGEL RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
JON WOODALL, ERNEST HALVORSEN, and CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MATTHEW KENNELLY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Angel Rodriguez has sued Chicago police detectives Jon Woodall and Ernest Halvorsen under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that they violated his right to a fair trial. He alleges that Woodall and Halvorsen coerced a witness to falsely identify him as a murderer and withheld this information from the prosecution at his trial. Rodriguez has also sued the City of Chicago for indemnification pursuant to 745 ILCS 10/9-102. The defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons outlined below, the Court denies the defendants' motion.

Facts

  On March 10, 1998, a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County convicted Rodriguez of murder, and a judge sentenced him to sixty years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for entering a grocery store and shooting Ibrahim Zayed, the owner of the store. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed the conviction on March 31, 2000 because of the lack of reliable evidence against Rodriguez. On June 6, 2003, Rodriguez filed this suit against Woodall and Halvorsen, two of the detectives involved in the murder investigation, alleging that they wrongfully pressured a witness into falsely identifying him as the shooter and failed to inform prosecutors of this.

  Halvorsen evidently first became involved with the murder investigation on January 15, 1997, when he was asked to locate Andrew Bolton, a seventeen year old who was working with Zayed at the time of the shooting, to show him a photo array of possible suspects. Defs' 56.1 Stmt. at ¶ 11. Halvorsen showed Bolton six photos, but he failed to identify anyone. But Halvorsen did not stop there; in an affidavit, Bolton claims that Halvorsen repeatedly came to his house and showed him photographs. Bolton Aff. ¶ 10. In March 1997, Halvorsen showed Bolton an array of six photos that included a picture of Rodriguez. Bolton selected Rodriguez's picture. Id. at ¶ 20; Bolton Dep. at 10-12.

  Rodriguez contends that Halvorsen coerced Bolton to identify Rodriguez by repeatedly showing Bolton photo arrays that always included Rodriguez's picture and by threatening Bolton. Pl's 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 44. As evidence of this misconduct, Rodriguez directs the Court's attention to Bolton's affidavit. In that affidavit, Bolton stated that Halvorsen "repeatedly" came to his house and showed him photographs and asked if Bolton could identify the killer from the photographs. Bolton Aff. ¶ 10. Bolton said that Halvorsen "suggested to me that I had something to do with" the murder, which made Bolton scared he could be charged. Id. ¶ 11. Bolton stated that he ultimately chose Rodriguez from the photo array "only because his photograph was always included with other photographs that were shown to me," which suggested to Bolton that the police wanted him to select Rodriguez. Id. ¶ 14.

  Halvorsen acknowledges that he presented photo arrays to Bolton on two separate occasions, but he claims that he "did not pick out, point to or suggest that Bolton choose plaintiff's photograph in any way." Defs' 56.1 Stmt. at ¶ 21. As evidence that he conducted the photo arrays properly, Halvorsen refers the Court to Bolton's testimony during his deposition that the police did not suggest that he select Rodriguez's picture and that paragraph 18 of his affidavit is inaccurate in that regard. Bolton Dep. at 11-12, 26. Bolton also testified at the criminal trial that he truthfully picked out Rodriguez from the photo array. Crim. Trial Tr. at 88.

  Detective Woodall's only involvement with the Zayed murder investigation occurred in March 1997, when he conducted a line-up for Bolton and Tyrone Reaves, the two witnesses to the murder. Reaves was just outside the store after the shooting and saw the suspect fleeing down the sidewalk. During the line-up, Bolton purportedly identified Rodriguez as the shooter. Crim. Trial Tr. at 133. Rodriguez, however, contends that this identification was coerced by Woodall.

  Rodriguez alleges that Woodall pressured Bolton to select Rodriguez as the shooter by pointing at Rodriguez during the line-up and making comments about his criminal record and background. Specifically, Bolton stated in his April 23, 2003 affidavit that despite the fact that he knew Rodriguez was not the shooter, he selected Rodriguez out of the line-up due to pressure from Woodall who was "constantly saying, `this got to be the guy he is from around the area and is known.'" Bolton Aff. at ¶ 16. Similarly, when asked during his deposition in this case whether the officer told him to pick out a certain person, Bolton answered that before he picked anyone, the officer pointed at Rodriguez and said "Look at this guy. His background, it's messed up. He the only one around the neighborhood be robbing and stealing, doing — you know, doing a lot of crimes." Bolton Dep. at 14.*fn1

  Bolton further testified that the officer at the line-up suggested that he, Bolton, might have been involved in the Zayed murder and threatened that if he did not pick someone out of the line-up, the police might start questioning him. Id. at 36-38. Somewhat inconsistently, however, Bolton later seemed to say that he had already picked Rodriguez out of the line-up when the officer made this statement. Id. But a jury reasonably could understand Bolton to be saying that this threat was made before the identification; arguably nothing else makes sense.

  Reaves corroborates key aspects of Bolton's testimony in his own affidavit. He states that although Bolton initially told the officer that none of the suspects in the line-up were the shooter, the officer then asked if he was sure it was not number three, because "[h]e fits the description." Reaves Aff. at ¶¶ 23-24. Reaves testified that Bolton at that point acknowledged that Rodriguez looked like the shooter and became positive that he was the shooter after the officer continued to make references to Rodriguez's background and neighborhood. Id. at ¶¶ 25-27.

  Woodall contends, however, that the evidence submitted by Rodriguez contradicts Bolton's sworn testimony at the trial and his deposition in this case. During Rodriguez's criminal trial, Bolton testified that he picked out Rodriguez from the line-up. Defs' 56.1 Stmt. at ¶ 35. Later, in his May 17, 2004 deposition, Bolton confirmed that he had testified truthfully at the trial when he said that Rodriguez had killed Zayed, id. ¶ 43, and also admitted that at the time of the line-up, he was sure that Rodriguez was the shooter and that he had told the truth when he picked him out. Id. at ¶¶ 41-42; Pl's 56.1 Resp. at ¶¶ 41-42. Woodall likewise points out that despite the fact that Reaves denied in his affidavit himself picked Rodriguez out of the line-up, this was at odds with his testimony before the grand jury that he did pick Rodriguez out of the line-up as Zayed's murderer. Reaves Aff. at ¶ 22; Grand Jury Tr. at 16. Finally, the defendants highlight the fact that Bolton testified that he did not read the affidavit before he signed it and that it was not notarized in his presence. Bolton Dep. at 22-23. (Bolton testified at his deposition, however, that only two paragraphs of the affidavit were inaccurate — paragraphs 15 and 18. See id. at 23-28.)

  Discussion

  Summary judgment is appropriate where "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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must construe all facts and draw all reasonable and justifiable ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.