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Tompkins v. Prange

November 29, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge


Wavery Tompkins has sued Round Lake Beach police officer Dominick Prange, Lake County assistant state's attorney Brad Krause, and Benjamin Barr, a staff attorney for the Circuit Court in Lake County, alleging that they violated his federal constitutional rights and committed various torts under Illinois law. Mr. Krause has moved to dismiss Mr. Tompkins' claims against him, and Mr. Barr has moved for summary judgment on Mr. Tompkins' claims against him. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants both of those motions. The Court also considers in this ruling Mr. Tompkins' motion to appoint a new attorney to replace his former appointed attorney who withdrew with Mr. Tompkins' consent.


In his amended complaint in this case, Mr. Tompkins alleges that on January 29, 2003, while working as a merchandise auditor for Retail Grocery Inventory Service, he was conducting at audit at a Kohl's department store in Gurnee, Illinois. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16, 18. Mr. Tompkins alleges that he had a conversation with a woman employed by Kohl's and gave her his telephone number. Id. ¶ 19. On January 31, Mr. Tompkins' supervisor called him, asked why he had given the employee his telephone number, and said that the employee was accusing him of sexual harassment. Id. ¶ 20. Mr. Tompkins told his supervisor that the conversation had been entirely innocuous and described the circumstances, but the supervisor did not accept Mr. Tompkins' explanation and fired him. Id.

That same day, Mr. Tompkins telephoned the Kohl's store to try to find out what had occurred. He spoke with the store's manager and asked if it was true that a store employee had accused him of sexual harassment. The manager denied any knowledge of the accusation. Mr. Tompkins replied that he found it difficult to believe that the manager would have no knowledge of the situation, and he ended the conversation. Id. ¶ 21.

On February 3, the Kohl's store manager evidently called the Round Lake Beach police department to make a report about Mr. Tompkins' telephone call. Id. ¶ 22. Round Lake Beach police officer Prange visited the manager at a Kohl's store in Round Lake Beach and took a statement from her. Mr. Tompkins alleges that the manager told officer Prange that she was involved an internal investigation regarding a sexual harassment claim made against Mr. Tompkins and that Mr. Tompkins had telephoned her on January 31 to inquire about the claim. Id. ¶ 23.

Later on February 3, Mr. Tompkins received a telephone call from a Waukegan police officer who did not identify himself; he asked Mr. Tompkins to call the Round Lake Beach police department and ask for officer Prange. Id. ¶ 24. Mr. Tompkins did so. Officer Prange asked whether Mr. Tompkins had made a threat over the telephone to the Kohl's store manager and the employee. Mr. Tompkins replied that he had been fired from his job as the result of an alleged accusation of sexual harassment and had simply called the Kohl's store manager to find out if an accusation had in fact been made, and that the manager had denied any knowledge of the situation. Id. ¶ 25. Officer Prange advised Mr. Tompkins that the police were seeking a warrant for his arrest. Id. ¶ 26.

Several days passed without Mr. Tompkins being arrested. On February 8, he sent a letter to the chief of the Round Lake Beach police, asking for an explanation of officer Prange's threat of an arrest. He asked for a copy of the police report and advised that if necessary he would bring charges against the Round Lake Beach police department and/or officer Prange. Id. ¶ 27.

Mr. Tompkins alleges that after the Round Lake Beach police received his letter, they initiated proceedings to obtain an arrest warrant, in retaliation for his request for a copy of the police report, and to preempt any charges that he might file against the police. Id. ¶ 28. He alleges that officer Prange conferred with his superiors and then with Mr. Krause, an assistant state's attorney in Lake County, about obtaining a warrant. Mr. Tompkins alleges that assistant state's attorney Krause approved a charge of telephone harassment despite knowing that there was no legitimate basis for such a charge. Id. ¶ 29.

Mr. Tompkins alleges that on February 19, officer Prange sought an arrest warrant from a Lake County judge, maliciously and without probable cause. Id. ¶ 30. He contends, on information and belief, that neither officer Prange nor any other complaining witness signed an affidavit or any other sworn writing in support of obtaining a warrant and that no witnesses other than officer Prange appeared before the Lake County judge. Id. ¶¶ 31-32. Rather, Mr. Tompkins alleges, "[t]he only notarized or sworn documentary evidence that may have been provided to this court was [an] Information signed by Defendant Krause, or Defendant [Benjamin] Barr [a staff attorney for the court] on behalf of Defendant Krause." Id. ¶ 32. Mr. Tompkins alleges that the information charging him with the crime included no details of his alleged conduct and contained allegations that the defendants knew or should have known were false. Id. The court appearance was not transcribed or recorded. Id. ¶ 33.

The judge issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Tompkins, and that same day, Waukegan police officers arrested him and took him to the Waukegan jail, where he was picked up by Round Lake Beach police officers and taken to the Round Lake Beach jail. Id. ¶¶ 34, 36. The next day, February 14, Mr. Tompkins was taken to court, where an order was entered requiring him to post a $10,000 bond as a condition of release. Id. ¶ 37. Mr. Tompkins remained in jail until February 19, when a relative posted bail on his behalf. Id.

On June 27, 2003, a bench trial was held on the charge against Mr. Tompkins. He was found not guilty at the conclusion of the prosecution's evidence. The trial judge ruled that the prosecution had failed to show that Mr. Tompkins had an unlawful purpose for making the telephone call to the Kohl's manager. Id. ¶ 39.

Mr. Tompkins' amended complaint also includes allegations that he believes that the telephone harassment charge is one manifestation of a conspiracy against him by law enforcement and by the Lake County State's Attorney's Office to violate his rights, wrongly depict him as a criminal, and deprive him of opportunities for gainful employment. Id. ¶ 38. In this regard, Mr. Tompkins makes reference in his amended complaint to three disorderly conduct charges that were made against him by Lake County prosecutors, one in 2003 and two in 2004. Mr. Tompkins alleges that he ended up defending himself on the 2003 charge due to the unavailability of his attorney and was convicted; that the first 2004 charge involved his alleged violation of a restraining order resulting from the 2003 conviction; and that the second 2004 charge concerned an apparently unrelated matter. Id. ¶¶ 40-41. The two 2004 charges were dropped, Mr. Tompkins says, after he filed a motion for a change of venue, seeking to transfer the cases outside Lake County. Id. ¶ 41.

Mr. Tompkins' amended complaint includes two claims. The first is a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Mr. Tompkins alleges that the defendants violated his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Id. ¶ 45. The second is a claim of false arrest, false ...

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