United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
October 6, 2005.
KING R. PERKINS, JR., Plaintiff,
CITY OF CHICAGO and CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER HARRY STRONG, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN GRADY, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the court is plaintiff King Perkins, Jr.'s motion for
summary judgment. The facts alleged in this case, briefly, are
that Chicago police officers, including defendant Officer Harry
Strong, entered and searched Perkins's home pursuant to a warrant
for the arrest of his son, King Perkins III. According to
Perkins, the officers soon discovered that his son was neither
present nor residing at the home, but nonetheless continued their
search and seized unidentified items belonging to Perkins and
valued in excess of "[one] million dollars." (Am. Compl., p. 1-3,
6.) (A more detailed recitation of the facts can be found in this
court's opinion of April 6, 2005.) The only claim remaining in
this case is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unlawful search and seizure claim
against Officer Strong.
In his motion, Perkins argues that a judgment recently entered
in a state court criminal case has preclusive effect on the § 1983 claim before this court. It appears from Perkins's motion
and attached exhibits that his son, King Perkins III, was
acquitted on a felon in possession of a firearm charge on July
11, 2005 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Perkins
claims that the state court judge entered a directed verdict of
acquittal upon finding that "the defendants in this case had no
probable cause for the raid upon and the seizure of the
plaintiff's property." (Pl.'s Mot., p. 8.) Perkins contends that
the state court's finding that Officer Strong and the other
officers had no probable cause to enter his home, or to search
for or seize items in his home, collaterally estops Strong from
arguing otherwise in this case.
State court judgments have collateral estoppel effect in
subsequent § 1983 litigation, see Allen v. McCurry,
449 U.S. 90, 96 (1980), and federal courts look to the law of the state
where the judgment was rendered to determine its preclusive
effect. See Brokaw v. Weaver, 305 F.3d 660, 669 (7th Cir.
2002). Under Illinois law, "collateral estoppel requires that:
(1) the issues decided in the prior adjudication are identical to
issues presented for adjudication in the current proceeding; (2)
there be a final judgment on the merits; and (3) the party
against whom estoppel is asserted was a party or in privity with
a party in the prior action." Id.
Even if we assume, as Perkins alleges, that the state court
found that Officer Strong and the other officers did not have probable cause to search Perkins's home, collateral estoppel
still does not apply in this case. Officer Strong was not a party
to the criminal proceedings because that action was brought
against King Perkins III by the State of Illinois. Nor was Strong
"in privity" with the state. For privity to exist, "strict
identity of the parties is not necessary, [but] . . . the parties
must be so closely aligned that they represent the same legal
interest." Kraushaar v. Flanigan, 45 F.3d 1040, 1050 (7th Cir.
1995). The person to be bound, whether a party or their privy,
must have "had a full and fair opportunity to litigate" the
issue, as well as an "incentive to vigorously litigate in the
former proceeding." Talarico v. Dunlap, 177 Ill.2d 185,
226 Ill.Dec. 222, 685 N.E.2d 325, 328 (Ill. 1997). In prosecuting
King Perkins III in a criminal case, the state did not "represent
the same legal interest" that Officer Strong has in defending
this civil § 1983 case. The state's primary objective was to
secure a conviction, not to demonstrate that Strong's conduct was
constitutionally defensible. Obviously, showing that the search
of Perkins's home was lawful was important to the state's case
but the state was not directly representing the interests of
Officer Strong. Moreover, Strong had no control over the criminal
case. Perhaps he was a witness, but he did not make decisions
regarding trial strategy and he could not appeal the ruling of
the state court. Officer Strong was not in privity with the state
in the criminal action. Because Officer Strong was not a party or in privity with a
party in the state court case, there is no collateral estoppel.
Perkins's motion for summary judgment [24-1, 29-1] is denied.
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