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Smith v. State

November 17, 2008

RONALD DEWAYNE SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF ILLINOIS; STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA; LISA MADIGAN, ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL; DARRELL MCGRAW, WEST VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL; DEPARTMENT OF POLICE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO; JOHN SALEMME; HERMINIO FLORES, JR.; THOMAS DART, SHERIFF OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS; RICHARD A. DEVINE, STATES ATTORNEY OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS; JEFFERSON COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA BOARD OF EDUCATION; DAVID DIDDEN; GREGORY DIDDEN; MARGARET DIDDEN; BRAUN HAMSTEAD; AND MICHAEL D. THOMPSON, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Ronald Smith has sued various individuals and government entities for damages and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Smith alleges that the defendants have violated his constitutional rights in connection with his arrest and indictment in Illinois state court. Smith also petitions the Court for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3), naming as respondents Cook County State's Attorney Richard A. Devine and Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart. The State of Illinois and Lisa Madigan have moved to dismiss Smith's section 1983 claims under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Defendants Richard Devine and Thomas Dart have moved to dismiss both the habeas corpus petition and the section 1983 claims under those same Rules. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants both motions.

Facts

The Court accepts "the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Jackson v. E.J. Brach Corp. 176 F.3d 971, 977-78 (7th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

In 1995, Ronald Dewayne Smith was convicted of a "crime against nature" in a West Virginia court upon a plea of nolo contendre. Compl. ¶ B.2. As part of his sentence, Smith was required to register as a sex offender and to notify the West Virginia State Police of changes in his residence. In 2003, Smith sought to modify the conviction order. He succeeded. The previous conviction order stated that Smith had been convicted of a "Crime Against Nature (Sodomy)"; the modification changed the order to remove the reference to sodomy. Def. Ex. D. The modified conviction order still required Smith to register as a sex offender until 2011.

In the fall of 2003, Smith enrolled in a course of study at the Moody Bible Institute using funds granted to him by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and he moved to Chicago, Illinois. On November 2, 2005, he was arrested by United States Marshals at his residence at the Institute based upon a West Virginia arrest warrant. Smith alleges that the officers did not permit him to dress before "parading" him out of the dormitory while other students watched. Although Smith says he informed the officers that he suffered from deep vein thrombosis, the officers restrained him and interrogated him throughout the remainder of the day and did not provide him food or clothing.

Upon learning of Smith's arrest, West Virginia rescinded the warrant, for reasons not disclosed in the complaint. Smith was not released, however, because Illinois charged him with failure to register as a sex offender in violation of 730 ILCS 150/3(a). To obtain the indictment, a Cook County prosecutor presented a grand jury with the unmodified 1995 West Virginia conviction order. Subsequently, Smith's name and photograph were posted to the Illinois Sex Offender Database.

On November 5, 2005, a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County set bail for Smith at $125,000. (Defendants Devine and Dart say this was a "D" bond -- in other words, one that required a cash deposit of 10 percent, or $12,500 -- and Smith does not suggest they are incorrect.) Smith successfully posted bail on December 13 with the help of his pastor. Although he repeatedly requested a reduction in bail, the court did not granted him a reduction. Smith also repeatedly requested that the court allow him to visit West Virginia. The court allowed him to do so twice. Although his arrest and confinement interrupted his studies at the Moody Bible Institute, Smith graduated with honors in May 2006.

In March 2007, Smith moved the state court to dismiss the indictment on the ground that it failed to state an offense. The court denied the motion, stating that West Virginia could not absolve Smith of being a convicted sex offender in Illinois.

On June 4, 2007, allegedly upon orders of a Cook County assistant state's attorney, Smith was arrested after a court appearance in his state court case. He asked the arresting officers why they were arresting him, but they refused to answer. The officers handcuffed and interrogated Smith for at least three and one-half hours and then released him. During this time, Smith says the officers failed to inform him of his constitutional rights and, when he asked to speak with his attorney, complained that he was not cooperating. Smith says his medical condition worsened as a result of this confinement.

Smith petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus on December 14, 2007; he later amended his complaint to include section 1983 claims. His amended complaint includes two counts: the habeas corpus petition (Count 1) and claims of civil right violations against several Illinois and West Virginia defendants (Count 2). The State of Illinois and Attorney General Lisa Madigan have moved to dismiss Count 2 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to sovereign immunity and failure to state a claim. Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine and Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart have moved to dismiss both counts for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

A. State of Illinois

The Eleventh Amendment bars suits brought by individuals against a state in federal court. Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98 (1984); Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 16 (1890). There are only two exceptions to this jurisdictional bar: when the state consents to suit, and when federal legislation unequivocally abrogates the immunity pursuant to a constitutional grant of authority. Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 517 (2004). Illinois has not consented to suit in this case, and section 1983 has been held not to be an exception to state sovereign immunity. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979).

Smith argues that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar his claim because, at the time of his arrest, he was studying at the Moody Bible Institute pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under 38 U.S.C. § 3697(a).*fn1 To create an exception to the Eleventh Amendment's jurisdictional bar, Congress must "unequivocally express[] its intent to abrogate [the states'] immunity." Lane, 541 U.S. at 517. Nothing in Section 3697(a) approaches an expression of congressional intent to limit sovereign immunity. The provision simply states that educational funds obtained by the Department of Veterans Affairs and provided to an individual shall be paid out of funds appropriated to the department. 38 U.S.C. ยง 3697(a). The few statutes that have been found to abrogate the Eleventh Amendment contain language specifically authorizing suits against the states. See Lane, 541 U.S. at 518 (finding that congressional intent to abrogate was present when statute ...


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