Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge AMY J. ST. EVE than Assigned Judge
Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [#3] is granted. The Court authorizes and orders Cook County Jail officials to deduct $4.42 from Plaintiff's account, and to continue making monthly deductions in accordance with this order. The Clerk shall send a copy of this order to the Supervisor of Inmate Trust Fund Accounts, Cook County Dept. of Corrections Administrative Office, Division V, 2700 S. California, Chicago, Illinois 60608. On the Court's own motion, the complaint is dismissed on preliminary review as to Defendants Joyce, Godinez, the Jane Doe State's Attorney, and Cook County pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff is assessed a "strike" under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) for the dismissal of his claims against those Defendants. The Clerk is directed to issue summonses for service on Defendant Dart by the U.S. Marshal. The Clerk is also directed to send Plaintiff a magistrate judge consent form and filing instructions along with a copy of this order.
O [For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that a judge and deputies at a Cook County Courthouse used unjustified force against him, and that a prosecutor refused either to intervene during the fracas or to bring charges against Plaintiff's alleged assailants afterwards.
Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), Plaintiff is assessed an initial partial filing fee of $4.42. The supervisor of inmate trust accounts at the Cook County Jail is authorized and ordered to collect, when funds exist, the partial filing fee from Plaintiff's trust fund account and pay it directly to the Clerk of Court. After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the trust fund officer at Plaintiff's place of confinement is directed to collect monthly payments from Plaintiff's trust fund account in an amount equal to 20% of the preceding month's income credited to the account. Monthly payments collected from Plaintiff's trust fund account shall be forwarded to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 until the full $350 filing fee is paid. All payments shall be sent to the Clerk, United States District Court, 219 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, Illinois 60604, attn: Cashier's Desk, 20th Floor, and shall clearly identify Plaintiff's name and the case number assigned to this action. The Cook County inmate trust account office shall notify transferee authorities of any outstanding balance in the event Plaintiff is transferred from the jail to another correctional facility.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt initial review of prisoner complaints against governmental entities or employees.
Facts Alleged in the Complaint
Plaintiff alleges that during a fitness hearing at a Cook County Circuit Court on March 6, 2009, he experienced an anxiety attack that caused him to black out. Because Plaintiff was losing consciousness, he did not hear or register the presiding judge order him to be seated.
When Plaintiff failed to sit down as directed, the judge gave orders for the courtroom deputies to use "extreme excessive force abuse" (sic) on Plaintiff, even though he posed no threat to himself or to anyone else. The officers held Plaintiff down and then beat him; the judge himself left the bench to join the officers in the attack. Plaintiff had to be hospitalized for his injuries. The judge subsequently found Plaintiff to be in contempt of court and imposed six months of jail time. Afterwards, the judge refused to recuse himself from the criminal proceedings.
The unidentified State's Attorney who was in the courtroom at the time of the disturbance failed either to go to Plaintiff's defense at the time or, later, to lodge criminal charges against Plaintiff's alleged assailants.
Not surprisingly, transcripts of the proceedings and even Plaintiff's own appellate brief, both of which are attached to the complaint, paint a markedly different picture of the events giving rise to this lawsuit. Nevertheless, accepting Plaintiff's factual allegations as true for purposes of threshold review, the Court finds that the complaint states a colorable cause of action under the Civil Rights Act against the unnamed Sheriff's Deputies. Unjustified force against a detainee violates the inmate's rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g., Dorsey v. St. Joseph County Jail Officials, 98 F.3d 1527, 1528 (7th Cir. 1998). While a more fully developed record may belie Plaintiff's claims, the officers must respond to the allegations in the complaint.
However, Plaintiff may not sue Judge Joyce for damages. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that a judge may not be held to answer in civil damages for acts committed in the exercise of his or her judicial capacity. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 12 (1991); Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219, 228 (1988); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 362-63 (1978); Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967). "[A] judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority; rather he will be subject to liability only when he has acted in the 'clear absence of all jurisdiction.' " Stump, 435 U.S. at 356-57; see also Loubser v. ...