Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brown v. Gulash

July 16, 2009

JERAMEY R. BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOE GULASH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center, 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). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and the supporting exhibits, the Court finds that no claim in the original complaint may dismissed at this point in the litigation.

THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff was convicted of murdering Michael Keller, a resident of Granite City, Illinois. The conviction was obtained in the Circuit Court, Madison County, Illinois, and, based on Plaintiff's criminal record and the brutal and heinous nature of the murder, Plaintiff was sentenced to an extended 75-year prison term. People v. Brown, 831 N.E.2d 1113, 1115 (Ill. App. 2005 ). In October 2004, while incarcerated in the Stateville Correctional Center, Plaintiff filed a federal civil rights action "alleging a myriad of constitutional violations" that occurred while he was confined pending trial in the Madison County Jail (Jail). See Brown v. Madison County, No. 3:04-cv-824-MJR (S.D. Ill.).*fn1

Plaintiff's conviction, however, was reversed on direct appeal after the state appellate court found that Plaintiff's Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated because the State obtained incriminating evidence by using a jail house informant. Id. at 1119. The state criminal matter was remanded for a new trial. Id. at 1133. Accordingly, Plaintiff was again confined at the Jail. In February 2007, while confined at the Jail, Plaintiff filed a federal civil rights action alleging that he had been confined to administrative segregation; denied out-of-cell exercise; that his mail (both incoming and outgoing) was photocopied and disappeared on a regular basis; that his telephone calls (including those with his attorneys) were monitored and recorded; that officers would bang on his cell walls and doors throughout the night; and that he was denied the right to fast during Ramadan. See Brown v. Hertz, 3:07-cv-117-GPM (S.D. Ill.). On threshold review, the Court found that the complaint asserted just one substantive claim - that these actions occurred in retaliation for Plaintiff filing the 2004 lawsuit.

In the instant complaint, Plaintiff again asserts claims that the conditions under which he was re-confined at the Jail violated his constitutional rights in a number of ways. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that: (1) that he was denied the opportunity to fast during Ramadan and, therefore, he was unable to practice his Muslim faith; (2) that he was held in the segregation unit at the Jail for approximately 16 months without due process of law; (3) that he was being denied his First Amendment rights by restrictions placed on the types of books and magazines he can have delivered to him in the Jail; (4) that he was denied the opportunity for exercise; (5) that he was deprived of adequate sleep because he was awoken every half-hour at night and also during the day due to "incessant noise" purposefully made by Jail staff; (6) that the Jail has violated his "privacy rights" because Jail records include many false statements and entries concerning Plaintiff's behavior and that such false entries; (7) that the Jail's commissary overcharges inmates for hygiene items; (8) that the Jail monitors all of his telephone conversations - including conversations with his attorneys - and the Jail (and its telephone service provider) impose "exorbitant charges" on the collect calls he makes to persons outside of the Jail; (9) that his mail has been opened and copied and passed along to the police.

With regard to this last allegation, Plaintiff asserts Jail officials allowed Defendant Wells to photocopy all of Plaintiff's outgoing mail - including his legal mail - for the benefit of Madison County prosecutors (Defendants Mudge, Napp, and Buckley). Plaintiff further alleges that on January 26, 2007, based on a "false" affidavit by Defendant Wojtowicz (a Granite City detective investigating the murder), a warrant was obtained by Granite City police officers (Defendants Wojtowicz and Nordstrom), Madison County prosecutors (Defendants Mudge, Buckley, and Napp), and the City of Granite City to seize a letter that Plaintiff had written on December 28, 2006, to his then girlfriend.

At the time, it appears Plaintiff's girlfriend was a patient at Lighthouse, a residential addiction treatment center located in Maryville, Illinois, operated by Chestnut Health Services. Upon being presented the warrant, the police and prosecuting attorneys were given the letter by Defendant Jones-Abecasis, Director at Lighthouse. Plaintiff alleges Wojtowizc, Nordstrom, and Kranzler (an officer with the Maryville police department) harassed and intimidated his girlfriend calling Plaintiff a "killer." Defendant alleges that since January 26, 2007, Defendant Jones-Abecasis has withheld all of Plaintiff's letters to his girlfriend on the basis that Plaintiff is not supportive of her addiction rehabilitation attempt. Furthermore, Plaintiff contends that even after his girlfriend was released from Lighthouse she has refused to communicate with Plaintiff.

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide Plaintiff's pro se action into ten counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Fritschle, Fischer,

Besson, and Madison County for violating Plaintiff's right to freely exercise his religion in violation of the First Amendment by denying Plaintiff the opportunity to fast during Ramadam.

COUNT 2: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Fritschle, Fischer,

Besson, McGuire, Gilbert, and Madison County for violating Plaintiff's right to Due Process of law by confining him in administrative segregation for sixteen months.

COUNT 3: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Fritschle, Fischer, Besson, Gilbert, and Madison County for violating Plaintiff's First Amendment rights by denying him magazines and books.

COUNT 4: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Fritschle, Besson, Gilbert, and Madison County for depriving Plaintiff of Due Process of law by denying Plaintiff adequate exercise.

COUNT 5: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Fritschle, Fischer, Besson, Stephenson, Shaake, Pyatt, Hill, Hugh, Moore, Richert, Spurgeon, Hare, Werner, McNaughton, Lemarr, Thompson, Hartsoe, Collman, Unknown Party (Travis), Richert, Unknown Party (maintenance man), Gilbert, and Madison County for denying Plaintiff Due Process of law by subjecting him to conditions amounting to punishment - specifically loud noises depriving Plaintiff of adequate sleep.

COUNT 6: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, and Madison County for violating Plaintiff's privacy rights by failing to maintain adequate records concerning ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.