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Lynch v. Nolan

February 24, 2009

LONNIE W. LYNCH, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
KEVIN P. NOLAN, CLINT HOWARD, CHARLES MCGREW, AND MATTHEW S. RASNAKE, INDIVIDUALLY, AND DOUGLAS COUNTY, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills United States District Judge

OPINION

RICHARD MILLS, U.S. District Judge

Every defendant is entitled to his day in court. Lonnie Lynch, however, wants his day in front of two courts.

Since Younger abstention precludes such dual jurisdiction, this case is stayed.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts are brief.*fn1 Lynch is a "certified Atlasprofilax Practictioner."*fn2 The Defendants are State's Attorney Nolan, Sheriff McGrew, Deputy Howard, and Macon County.*fn3 According to Lynch, the Defendants were all involved, directly or vicariously, in investigating and eventually arresting him for practicing medicine without a license in violation of the Medical Practice Act of 1987, 225 ILCS 60/3.

While awaiting trial on these charges,*fn4 Lynch filed, pro se, the present suit under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. The Complaint alleges a host of perceived constitutional violations arising from the Defendants' actions in investigating and arresting Lynch, including violations of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. For relief, Lynch seeks damages and an injunction forbidding further involvement of the Defendants in his impending prosecution.

Defendants move this Court to dismiss or stay Lynch's suit.*fn5

II. ANALYSIS

A. Heck Bar

Defendants first argue that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) bars Lynch's suit. Under Heck, courts must dismiss § 1983 suits that, if accepted, would imply the invalidity of an otherwise robust conviction or sentence. Id. at 486-87. Lynch, however, has not been convicted; he merely faces a pending criminal trial.

Relying on Wiley v. City of Chicago, Defendants argue that Heck also applies to potential convictions on pending charges. 361 F.3d 994, 996 (7th Cir. 2004); Gonzalez v. Entress, 133 F.3d 551, 553 (7th Cir. 1998); Washington v. Summerville, 127 F.3d 552, 555-56 (7th Cir. 1997). While this rule was once widely accepted, it has been soundly rejected by the Supreme Court. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94 (2007) (rejecting the application of Heck to "an anticipated future conviction" as "bizarre"); Fox v. DeSoto, 489 F.3d 227, 234 (6th Cir. 2007) ("In no uncertain terms, . . . the Supreme Court in Wallace clarified that the Heck bar has no application in the pre-conviction context."); Kucharski v. Leveille, 526 F. Supp. 2d 768 (E.D. Mich. 2007) (collecting cases from numerous circuits that were overruled by Wallace). Therefore, since Lynch has not been convicted of the charged crimes, Heck does not yet apply.

Of course, this does not mean pre-trial defendants can avoid Heck merely by filing their claims prior to a conviction. Rather, in such cases, courts often impose a stay. The Court in Wallace explained:

If a plaintiff files a false arrest claim before he has been convicted (or files any other claim related to rulings that will likely be made in a pending or anticipated criminal trial), it is within the power of the district court, and in accord with common practice, to stay the civil action until the criminal case or the likelihood of a criminal case is ended. If the plaintiff is ultimately convicted, and if the stayed civil suit would impugn that conviction, Heck will require dismissal; otherwise, the civil action will proceed, ...


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