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Barham v. McIntyre

May 30, 2007


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


I. Introduction

On October 30, 2001, after a three-week bench trial, a Johnson County judge convicted William Barham of two counts of reckless homicide and one count of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol. The judge sentenced Barham to four years' imprisonment. Illinois v. Barham, 788 N.E.2d 297, 299 (Ill. App. Ct. 5th Cir. 2003). The Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District, reversed Barham's conviction on April 1, 2003, and set him free. Id.

Barham believes the Johnson County State's Attorney's office and the Illinois State Police conspired to convict him wrongfully. He filed the instant action on February 18, 2004, naming as defendants Brian Trambley, the State's Attorney of Johnson County during his trial, Alan McIntyre, the assistant State's Attorney that tried the case, Roy Gilbert, a law clerk for the State's Attorney's office, and Jay Hall, Barbee Stalker, John Wright, Shane Alvey, and Pete Sopczak -- all Illinois State Police officers involved in the investigation that culminated in Barham's conviction.

Five counts remain in the complaint. In Count I, titled "Deprivation of Right to Fair Trial and for Wrongful Conviction," Barham alleges the individual defendants conspired to cause his "wrongful charging, prosecution, and conviction" and the "continuation of the wrongful conviction by failing to investigate, by fabricating . . . and . . . suppressing evidence that were the basis for the conviction . . . thereby unconstitutionally depriving [him] of his liberty and violating his right to a fair and impartial trial . . . as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment." (Compl. at 8). Count II, titled "42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim for False Imprisonment," alleges defendants falsely imprisoned Barham and continued his imprisonment, thereby "violat[ing] his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable seizures and the federal civil rights laws." (Compl. at 9). Count III is another claim under § 1983, alleging defendants violated Barham's right of access to the courts "by suppression of evidence favorable to the claims asserted here, and by effectively causing Mr. Barham to forfeit defenses to the charges, to delay his defense efforts and claims, and to proceed without key evidence that was destroyed, lost or otherwise diminished due to lapse of time" in violation of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Compl. at 9-10). Count IV is a state law claim for false imprisonment and Count V is a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Now before the Court are a number of motions. Trambley, Gilbert, and McIntyre have filed separate motions for summary judgment and supporting memoranda (Docs. 93, 94, 95, 96, 98, 99) and Wright, Stalker, Hall, Alvey, and Sopczak have filed a combined motion for summary judgment and a supporting memorandum (Docs. 97, 100). Barham filed a combined response to these motions (Doc. 111) and defendants have replied to that response (Docs. 113, 116, 119). Wright, Stalker, Hall, Alvey, and Sopczak (the ISP defendants) have also moved to strike "all references in plaintiff's response to defendants' motion for summary judgment to Counts II and IV being something other than claims for false imprisonment." (Doc. 114).

Barham has responded to the motion to strike. (Doc. 117). Having reviewed the motions before it, the Court is now prepared to rule.

II. Background

A little before midnight on October 14, 2000, Barham -- at that time, the Warden at Shawnee Correctional Center -- and Jerry Isom were involved in a single-car accident that resulted in Isom's death. Before the accident, they and others had been drinking at the Lakeside Bar and Grill after a political function. The amount of beer Barham consumed was disputed at trial. Barham testified that he had one or two during the four hours he was at the bar. Barham, 788 N.E.2d at 305. Three servers testified that between them, they served Barham at least eight. No one testified that Barham was visibly intoxicated or out of control. In any event, it is undisputed that Barham was driving when he and Isom left the bar to go back home to Vienna, Illinois. Barham maintains that the pair stopped at a convenience store on the way home, and that Isom took over driving responsibilities. After the stop, Barham claims he fell asleep in the back seat. Before reaching Vienna, the car went off the road and struck a tree.

Daniel Stockdale, a civilian, saw the accident while driving home from his girlfriend's house and stopped to see if anyone needed help. When Stockdale approached the car, he saw Barham lying against the inflated air bag on the driver's side of the car. Stockdale quickly went to his girlfriend's house and called the police. His girlfriend's father, Charles James, accompanied him back to the wreck. When they arrived, Barham was working his way out of the car.

Johnson County Sheriff's deputies were the first officials to respond, arriving at about 12:30 a.m. Deputy Schierbaum noticed that Isom was pinned against the dashboard in the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Because of the severity of the accident, Johnson County officials referred the accident to the Illinois State Police (ISP). Wright, the shift commander when the call came in, sent an officer to the scene and immediately contacted his supervisor, Monica Joost. After ordering an accident reconstruction officer to the scene, Wright went there himself.

Hall was the first ISP officer at the scene. Stockdale told Hall what he had seen, including that he saw Barham in the driver's seat. Cheila Ellis, a paramedic who tended to Barham, told Hall she smelled alcohol on Barham's breath and thought him intoxicated. Hall smelled alcohol on Barham as well. Based on this information, Hall told Barham he was under arrest in the ambulance.

Alvey was the first accident reconstruction officer at the scene. Though he had completed ISP's crash reconstruction classes, he had not yet taken the state board examination to become certified and had not conducted any accident reconstructions. Given Alvey's inexperience, Wright eventually called another accident reconstruction officer to lead the reconstruction. Stalker responded to Wright's call. Based on her investigation, Stalker concluded that Barham was the driver of vehicle, that the vehicle was going faster than the posted 55 M.P.H. speed limit, and that Barham had failed to negotiate the turn.

Isom and Barham were taken to Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky. Isom was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival. Hall went to Lourdes that night as well. Though the precise timing is not clear, at some point, he cited Barham for driving under the influence and improper lane usage. At around 2:30 a.m., hospital personnel told Hall that Barham's blood alcohol level was .097. At 3:32 a.m., Hall read Barham the "Warning to Motorist" instruction and asked for permission to draw blood. Since Barham was unconscious when Hall read the warning, Hall took the blood without his consent. The ISP draw indicated that Barham's BAC was .046. Sopczak is a crime scene investigator with ISP. He first became involved with the case when he attended Isom's autopsy on October 16, 2000. He took photographs during the autopsy, and went to the accident site, where he collected various pieces of evidence. Sopczak did not take fingerprints from the car or take a complete inventory.

Hall filed an Affidavit of Probable Cause on October 16, 2000, stating that to the best of his knowledge, Barham committed the crimes of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI. A grand jury indicted Barham on three counts of reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated driving under the influence on December 5, 2000.

III. Standard

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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). In determining the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact, the Court construes all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.

If the moving party meets its burden, the nonmoving party has the burden "to go beyond the pleadings and affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires trial." Borello v. Allison, 446 F.3d 742, 748 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists only if "a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; Insolia v. Phillip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596 (7th Cir. 2000).

IV. Discussion

A. § 1983 Claims for False Arrest, False Imprisonment, and Malicious Prosecution

To succeed on a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must plead and prove "(1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the deprivation was visited upon [him] by a person or persons acting under color of state law." Kramer v. Village of N. Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004).

Federal courts recognize constitutional torts for false arrest and imprisonment under the Fourth Amendment and § 1983. See, e.g., Wallace v. City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2006); Ienco v. Angarone, 429 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2005) (Ienco V) ("[A] false arrest is an unreasonable seizure prohibited by the Fourth Amendment."). As the Supreme Court explained in Wallace v. Kato, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 1095 (2007), "The sort of unlawful detention remediable by the tort of false imprisonment is detention without legal process." Thus, "a false imprisonment ends once the victim becomes held pursuant to such process -- when, for example, he is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges." Id. Once the detention is coupled with legal process, the continued "detention forms part of the damages for the 'entirely distinct' tort of malicious prosecution, which remedies detention accompanied, not by absence of legal process, but by wrongful institution of legal ...

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