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Barnes v. Jensen

August 17, 2010

JASON BARNES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUSAN JENSEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Jason Barnes brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution.*fn1 He seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and the Court finds that he is indigent. Thus, the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) is GRANTED.*fn2

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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

FACTS ALLEGED

On the evening of September 25, 2009, Barnes was at home in Granite City. The police knocked on his door, and he let them in. Once Barnes confirmed his identity, the officers told him that he was wanted for questioning in Madison County. Barnes was handcuffed and taken to the city jail. At the jail, Defendant Detective Mike Fisher asked Barnes if he knew Samuel Jones. Barnes said yes. Fisher then said that Jones had accused Barnes of robbing him of approximately $800. Barnes denied the accusation. He explained that he and Jones had worked together for five months, that they were friends who played ball together and had cookouts together, and that he occasionally borrowed money from Jones. Fisher told him that Jones had a clean record, whereas Barnes did not; at that time, Fisher deemed Jones's story to be more credible. Barnes was detained in the Granite City jail for a couple of days and then transferred to the Madison County Jail. No further details are contained in either of his complaints or supplements, but on March 1, 2010, Barnes sent a letter to the Clerk of Court, explaining that he went to court that day and that "they credited me for 160 days served, no fine, no probation, and released me off the charge" (Doc. 16). Also according to the letter, the state court judge told Barnes that he could withdraw his plea within 30 days, which Barnes intended to do as soon as he could hire an attorney who "will fight for [him]" (id.).

As a result of these events, Barnes lost both of his jobs, his apartment, and all his possessions. He seeks compensatory damages of $750,000, as well as $750,000 in punitive damages, from each defendant.

DEFENDANTS NAMED

The original complaint in this action (Doc. 1) lists two defendants: Assistant State's Attorney Susan Jensen and Madison County Sheriff Robert Hertz. Barnes later filed several supplements to the complaint, adding one new defendant with each supplement: State's Attorney William Mudge (Doc. 11), Chief Rich Miller (Doc. 12), Lieutenant Craig Knight (Doc. 13), and Major Jeff Connor (Doc. 14). A separate action now consolidated into this one adds yet another defendant, Detective Mike Fisher (Doc. 18). Each complaint and supplement is virtually identical in the statement of claim, as summarized above.

The complaint (Doc. 1) contains no allegations against either Jensen or Hertz. In his four supplements, Barnes makes only these additional allegations: "Mr. William Mudge knew about what's going on with this case." (Doc. 11); "Chief Rich Miller knew about this incident and knew that they wrongfully arrested me and his detective didn't do no investigation." "Chief Rich Miller knew everything about this crime that never even happened." (Doc. 12); "I strongly feel at the time Lieutenant Craig Knight knew about this incident and knew that they wrongfully arrested me and his detective didn't do no investigation." "Lieutenant Craig Knight knew everything about this crime that never even happened." (Doc. 13); "I strongly feel at the time assistant chief Jeff Connor knew about this ...


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