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Dana Holland v. City of Chicago

June 23, 2011


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:05-cv-03255-James B. Zagel, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Evans, Circuit Judge.


Before FLAUM, MANION, and EVANS,Circuit Judges.

In 1993 Dana Holland was arrested and subsequently charged with sexually assaulting Dionne Stanley. Four years later, in 1997, he was convicted in Cook County Circuit Court after a bench trial. He received a stiff sentence: three consecutive 30-year terms to begin after he completed a 28-year sentence he was serving on an unrelated conviction. In 2002 new DNA testing of a vaginal swab taken from Stanley revealed a match not to Holland, but to his uncle, Gordon Bolden. In 2003 Holland's conviction was vacated. Holland subsequently sued the City of Chicago and two police officers, Timothy Cullinan and Nancy Piekarski (collectively, "the City"), in state court alleging malicious prosecution under Illinois law. When due process violations (via Brady v. Maryland) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 were added to the complaint, the case was removed to federal court where summary judgment was eventually granted for the City. Holland appeals.

We start with the facts, viewed as they must be at this stage of the case, in the light most favorable to Holland. Having said that, we acknowledge that viewing the facts favorably to Holland is extraordinarily difficult because his case against the defendants rests entirely on the credibility of Stanley who has told multiple versions of her story and testified-under oath in a 2009 deposition in this case-that she committed perjury while testifying under oath in Mr. Holland's 1997 criminal court trial. Putting that little detail aside, we forge on.

On February 22, 1993, around 6:00 in the morning, officers Cullinan and Piekarski responded to a dispatch regarding a woman screaming for help. They arrived at the scene, in the alley in the 7700 block of South Paulina, in time to see a black man run from the driver's side of a car, while Stanley emerged partially clothed from the passenger's side and headed toward the officers. Cullinan chased the driver, while Piekarski stayed with Stanley and tried to calm her down. Cullinan lost sight of the man he was chasing and returned to the police cruiser to join Piekarski and Stanley.

Stanley related what happened to the officers. Definitely not behaving like an expectant mother should (she was almost eight-months pregnant at the time) Stanley said, among other things, that she used crack-cocaine during the preceding 24 hours. She said she met a black man in a bar (at trial, she called it "a lounge") around 1:30 a.m. and that later, in his car, the man raped her and forced her to give him oral sex. She went on to add a crucial tidbit of information: the man was wearing jeans with "cartoons" on them. She also told the officers the man had a knife and dropped it in the alley.

Soon, other police officers-Mary Bonnema and Martin Tulley-arrived. Cullinan went off down the alley looking for the knife while Bonnema and Tulley tracked footprints in the snow that they thought were left by Stanley's attacker. While looking for the knife, Cullinan entered the alley behind 7821 S. Paulina (approximately one block away) where he spotted Holland standing over a trash can. Cullinan, with gun drawn, told Holland to drop the items he was holding. He did, and they fell into the trash can. The items were some empty beer bottles, an empty liquor bottle, and a pair of jeans with cartoons around the waistband. In the pocket of the jeans was Holland's wallet containing a photo ID. Cullinan took Holland back to the police cruisers to do a "show-up" with Stanley. Show-ups, unlike formal lineups, are used, as this one was, when a suspect is brought before a victim (or vice versa) soon after the commission of an offense.

At approximately the same time, officers Bonnema and Tulley tracked the footprints to the door of 7821 S. Paulina, where Holland's grandmother lived on the first floor with his uncle Bolden, who was also the registered owner of the car that was ditched in the alley one block away. Holland sometimes stayed in the basement of the building, although the officers didn't know this at the time. Bonnema and Tulley entered the building and found no one there. However, they did find a pair of wet sneakers, which appeared to match the footprints in the snow. The sneakers were a half-size larger than Holland's shoe size.

While all this was going on, Stanley remained in the alley where the car was abandoned. According to her, just before Holland was brought back for the show-up, one of the female officers told her, "The guy you described [was] throwing out the clothes you described and we want you to take a look at him." When Holland was shown to Stanley, an officer asked her whether he was the man who attacked her, and she said, "No." Holland heard Stanley say he was not her attacker, and Officer Cullinan then took him away. According to Holland, Officer Cullinan brought him back to Stanley three more times. The first two times she said he was not the attacker. On the third presentation, she became "a little upset" and said, "No, I told you all that's not him."

Stanley had told the officers that she was drinking that night and last took drugs around noon the previous day. According to Stanley, when she said at the show-up that Holland was not the rapist, she "was pretty much sober." Stanley also testified that after she said Holland was not the rapist, the same female officer who had told her Holland was throwing out the clothes she described added that Holland was also throwing out shoes that matched the impressions of the footprints in the snow. Stanley says the officer said, "it's him" and "[h]e ha[d] the evidence." Stanley further testified that the officer also told her that, due to the drugs and alcohol Stanley had consumed, she "was mistaken" when she said Holland was not the rapist.

Stanley also claims a female officer said, "You just have to say it's him and you'll be able to go home." One of the female officers also told Stanley she "was in good hands, [she] was safe," and that the rapist "couldn't hurt [her] any more." After that officer talked to her for approximately ten minutes, Stanley identified Holland as the rapist, saying, "That's him." Holland was arrested, and Stanley was taken to the hospital.

Stanley's story, as we have just related it, comes mostly from her 2009 deposition testimony in connection with this civil case. Her testimony during the 1997 criminal court trial was quite different. At the trial, she identified Holland as the man she met in the bar that night. She said he told her she "looked nice." After the bar closed she got into Holland's car and drove to two liquor stores in an unsuccessful attempt to buy some beer. Later, she said, he parked the car in an alley, unzipped his pants, and said, "Suck my dick, bitch." A sexual assault and a rape followed. With absolutely no hesitation, at the trial, she said Holland was the man who assaulted and raped her. She identified the "cartoon" pants she said he was wearing. She identified a knife found in the area and said Holland pointed it at her during the assaults. She acknowledged that she first "hesitated" to identify Holland at the scene because she was afraid of him. She said the "lady officer" told her, "If that was him, I didn't have to be afraid, he couldn't hurt me anymore." After that, she identified Holland as the attacker. She said no one told her to identify Holland. She did so only because "he was the man that raped me."

At some point around the time Holland was arrested, he told the officers that it was Bolden they wanted and that it was Bolden's car in the alleyway. He also said that Bolden lived at 7821 S. Paulina and was inside. However, Bolden was not there when Bonnema and Tully entered and found the wet shoes. After Stanley ...

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