United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
January 7, 2005.
WINDSOR ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
ELLIS E. REID; PAUL BERVID; RICHARD DEVINE; DR. TANVEER SHAN, CERMAK HEALTH SERVICES; COOK COUNTY JAIL; and COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pro se Plaintiff Windsor Alexander brings this action against
Defendants alleging civil rights violations under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. In prior orders, the Court dismissed all of the named
Defendants except Dr. Tanveer Shan and Cook County. Before the
Court is Dr. Shan and Cook County's Motion for Summary Judgment
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the
following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion.
I. BACKGROUND FACTS
A. Northern District of Illinois Local Rules
When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives
background facts from the parties' Northern District of Illinois
Local Rule 56.1 statements. The Local Rules provide parties with
specific details as to how litigants in the Northern District of
Illinois should approach summary judgment motions and responses.
Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a
statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends
there is no genuine issue." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the non-moving
party to admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the
moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that
establish a genuine dispute for trial. The parties' statements
must contain short numbered paragraphs including references to
the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting
material. Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 583-85 (N.D.Ill.
2000). When citing to the record in legal memoranda, parties are
required to cite to the numbered paragraphs of the Local Rule
56.1 statements, not to the underlying parts of the record. Id.
Even though the parties have partially complied with the Local
Rules, both Defendants and Plaintiff did not consistently follow
the Local Rules in their statements, responses, and legal
memoranda. The Court notes that although courts construe pro se
pleadings liberally, see Calhoun v. DeTella, 319 F.3d 936, 943
(7th Cir. 2003), a plaintiff's pro se status does not absolve
him from complying with the Local Rules. Greer v. Board of Ed.
of City of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); see
also McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113, 113 S.Ct. 1980,
124 L.Ed.2d 21 (1993) (pro se litigants must follow clear
This leaves the Court with some statements and responses that
do not cite specific parts of the record and legal memoranda that
do not properly cite to the factual record. Statements and
responses that do not properly cite to the record are subject to
the Court's discretion as to their admission. See Brasic v.
Heinemann's Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 284 (7th Cir. 1997).
Statements that are not contested are deemed admitted. Smith v.
Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). With these
principles in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this
B. Relevant Undisputed Facts
On March 12, 2000, Alexander was arrested on charges of perjury
and forgery pursuant to an arrest warrant stemming from an indictment. (R. 99-1, Pl.'s
Response to Def.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 1; R. 94-1, Def.'s Rule
56.1 Statement, ¶ 1.) Alexander was then detained at Cook County
Jail in Chicago, Illinois. (Id.) Alexander's case proceeded to
trial in July of 2001, where Alexander represented himself, along
with shadow counsel, in the Circuit Court of Cook County. (Pl.'s
Resp. ¶¶ 5, 10; Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 3, 5, 10, Ex. C, Alexander's
Resp. to Inter. ¶ 6.) The jury found Alexander not guilty on all
criminal charges. (Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 10; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 10.)
During Alexander's pre-trial detention in Cook County Jail, he
was admitted into the acute psychiatric unit of the Cermak
Hospital Division of Cook County Jail in May of 2000. (Pl.'s
Resp. ¶ 7; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 7.) Although Defendant Dr. Tanveer
Shan, a psychiatrist working at Cook County Jail, did not admit
Alexander into the acute psychiatric unit, Dr. Shan diagnosed
Alexander as having bi-polar disorder. (Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 13, Def.'s
Stmt. ¶ 13, Ex. B, Shan Aff., ¶¶ 1, 9.) On October 2000, Dr. Shan
released Alexander from his daily care and control and Alexander
returned to the general population at the Cook County Jail.
(Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 9; Def's Stmt. ¶ 9.) Dr. Tanveer Shan did not
participate in Alexander's arrest, the indictment resulting in
his arrest, or the decision to set Alexander's bond. (Pl.'s Resp.
¶ 3, 4; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 3.)
SUMMARY JUDGMENT 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 material fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248,
106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). 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, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265
(1986). The existence of a factual dispute is not sufficient to
defeat a summary judgment motion, instead the non-moving party
must present definite, competent evidence to rebut the summary
judgment motion. See Vukadinovich v. Board of Sch. Trs.,
278 F.3d 693, 699 (7th Cir. 2002) (quotation and citation
Alexander brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which
creates a federal cause of action for "the deprivation, under
color of law, of a citizen's rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." See
42 U.S.C. § 1983; Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 132,
114 S.Ct. 2068, 129 L.Ed.2d 93 (1994). Construing Alexander's pro se
Second Amended Complaint liberally as the Court is required to
do, see Calhoun v. DeTella, 319 F.3d 936, 943 (7th Cir.
2003), he alleges that the Cook County Department of Corrections
had an unwritten, but widespread policy of sending inmates to the
acute psychiatric unit of Cermak Health Services ("Cermak").
Alexander alleges that this widespread policy deprived him from
(1) defending grievances in front of the Cook County Jail Board,
and (2) accessing the law library and legal materials.
Furthermore, Alexander alleges that Dr. Shan conspired with the
Department of Corrections to keep him at the acute psychiatric
unit against his will even though Dr. Shan knew that Alexander
was representing himself in a criminal matter. Accordingly,
Alexander contends that Defendants conspired to deny him (1)
procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, (2) his
First Amendment right to access the courts, and (3) his right to
competent counsel under the Sixth Amendment. Finally, Alexander
argues that he was arrested without probable cause in violation of the
To establish Dr. Shan's liability under Section 1983, Alexander
must show that (1) he was deprived a federal right (2) caused by
an action taken under color of state law. Gomez v. Toledo,
446 U.S. 635, 640, 100 S.Ct. 1920, 64 L.Ed.2d 572 (1980); Hernandez
v. City of Goshen, 324 F.3d 535, 537 (7th Cir. 2003). To
establish that Cook County is liable, Alexander must show (1) he
was deprived a federal right, (2) as a result of an express
municipal policy, widespread custom, or deliberate act of a
decision-maker for Cook County, which (3) proximately caused his
injury. Monell v. Department of Soc. Servs. of New York,
436 U.S. 658, 690-91, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978); Lawrence
v. Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 843 (7th Cir. 2004). Under
a conspiracy theory, Alexander must demonstrate that Defendants
reached an agreement to deprive him of his federal rights.
Williams v. Seniff, 342 F.3d 774, 782 (7th Cir. 2003).
The Court turns to the threshold matter of whether Dr. Shan or
Cook County deprived Alexander of his federal rights. First,
Alexander claims that he was denied his First Amendment right of
access to the courts, that is, the law library and legal
materials, while he was in the acute psychiatric unit at Cermak.
Pre-trial detainees who are offered assistance of appointed
counsel and choose to represent themselves, however, do not have
a constitutional right to access legal materials or law
libraries. United States v. Byrd, 208 F.3d 592, 593 (7th
Cir. 2000). "The rule is that he has the right to legal help
through appointed counsel, and when he declines that help, other
alternative rights, like access to a law library, do not spring
up." Id. In addition, Alexander must also demonstrate that the
denial of access to legal materials and the law library resulted
in actual injury. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351,
116 S.Ct. 2174, 135 L.Ed.2d 606 (1996). Here, Alexander was successful in defending himself in his
criminal matter, and thus he incurred no injury.
Next, Alexander argues that he was denied his right to
effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment.
Because Alexander chose to represent himself in his state court
criminal action, however, he cannot later claim that he was
denied competent counsel under the Sixth Amendment. Byrd,
208 F.3d at 593.
Alexander also claims that he was denied procedural due process
in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment because his detention in
the acute psychiatric unit prohibited him from defending a
grievance in front of the Cook County Jail Board. Even if
Alexander could establish that he has a liberty interest
protected by due process under the circumstances, see Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483-84, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 132 L.Ed.2d 418
(1995), he admits that after Cook County Jail initiated the
hearing, the board ultimately dismissed the grievance against
him. (R. 100-1, Alexander Aff., ¶ 28). Therefore, the Cook County
Jail Board necessarily afforded Alexander procedural due process
in the first instance.
Alexander further alleges that he was arrested without probable
cause a claim that is not supported by the record. First,
Alexander admits that he was arrested as a result of a warrant
stemming from an indictment. Arrest warrants based on indictments
are necessarily founded on probable cause. Kalina v. Fletcher,
522 U.S. 118, 129, 118 S.Ct. 502, 139 L.Ed.2d 471 (1997) (Fourth
Amendment requires that arrest warrants be based on probable
cause which is satisfied by indictment returned by grand jury).
Therefore, there was probable cause to arrest Alexander. Second,
because Dr. Shan did not participate in Alexander's arrest, the
indictment resulting in his arrest, or the decision to set bond
in the criminal matter, he could not have caused any such deprivation of Alexander's Fourth Amendment rights. See
Hernandez, 324 F.3d at 537. Last, even if there were any
remaining individual Defendant who was involved in Alexander's
arrest, the individual's liability could not be imputed to Cook
County under the theory of respondeat superior because
municipalities cannot be held liable on the grounds of respondeat
superior in Section 1983 actions. Monell, 436 U.S. at 692;
Lawrence, 391 F.3d at 843. Therefore, Alexander's probable
cause claim is without merit.
As to Alexander's conspiracy theory, not only has he failed to
establish a deprivation of a federal right, he has not
demonstrated that Defendants had an agreement to deprive him of
his constitutional rights. See Williams, 342 F.3d at 782 (mere
speculation cannot support conspiracy theory that Defendants had
requisite agreement). Although Defendants have the burden of
establishing the lack of any issue of material fact in their
motion for summary judgment, Alexander must present definite,
competent evidence to rebut the Defendants' summary judgment
motion, which he has failed to do. See Vukadinovich,
278 F.3d at 699.
Because the Court concludes that Defendants did not deprive
Alexander of a federal right as a matter of law, the Court need
not decide whether Cook County had an express policy, a common
widespread practice, or that a deliberate act of a decision-maker
for Cook County created a policy that pre-trial detainees should
be sent to the acute psychiatric unit at Cermak instead of
remaining in the general population at Cook County Jail to
deprive criminal defendants of their constitutional rights. See
Lawrence, 391 F.3d at 843.
Finally, the Court notes that Defendant Cook County's immunity
argument based on the Illinois Local Government and Governmental
Employees Tort Immunity Act is in error. Specifically, immunity
on federal constitutional claims is a matter of federal law, not
state law. Payne for Hicks v. Churchich, 161 F.3d 1030, 1038 (7th Cir.
1998). Therefore, Defendants' argument that they have absolute
immunity as a matter of state law under the Illinois Tort
Immunity Act fails because this action was based on alleged
violations of Alexander's federal civil rights. Id.
For these reasons, the Court grants Defendants' Motion for
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