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Freeman v. Alorton Police Dep't

January 9, 2008

TAYMOND M. FREEMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALORTON POLICE DEPT., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, formerly in custody at the St. Clair County Jail,*fn1 brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is legally frivolous and thus subject to summary dismissal.

Plaintiff states that on August 18, 2006, he was arrested by the Alorton Police Department on charges of domestic battery.*fn2 This arrest arose out of charges filed by Defendant Stacey C. Shephard, aka Stacey Lynette Goodlow, who charged that Plaintiff had violated a protective order. Plaintiff alleges that Shephard/Goodlow fabricated charges against him in seeking the order of protection, and that she further fabricated charges against him that led to his August 18 arrest. Based on these allegations, he first claims that Shepard/Goodlow "maliciously deprived [him] of liberty and property without due process," in violation of his constitutional rights.

To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. . . . . .

The traditional definition of acting under color of state law requires that the defendant in a § 1983 action have exercised power "possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law."

West v. Atkins, 108 U.S. 42, 49 (1988), citing United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299, 326 (1941).

Nothing in the complaint suggests that Shephard/Goodlow was "acting under color of state law" when she filed charges against Plaintiff. Therefore, as to her, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

Plaintiff next claims that the Alorton Police Department and its detective, Jon Lair, deprived him of his right of liberty by failing to perform an adequate investigation of her charges. However, the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution bars individuals from bringing suit in federal court against a state or its agencies in their own names. See Brunken v. Lance, 807 F.2d 1325, 1329 (7th Cir. 1986). Further, states and their agencies are not "persons" susceptible to suit under § 1983.

Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989). This includes city police departments. U.S. ex rel Lee v. People of State of Ill., 343 F.2d 120, 120 (7th Cir. 1965). See also Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210 (11th Cir. 1992); Henschel v. Worcester Police Dept., Worcester, Mass., 445 F.2d 624 (1st Cir. 1971); Reese v. Chicago Police Dept., 602 F.Supp. 441 (N.D. Ill. ...


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