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Richard G. Allen v. Jan Fiss

July 7, 2011


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



Plaintiff Richard G. Allen, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on events prior to and during his trial in St. Clair County that led to his conviction and incarceration. Plaintiff is serving a 30 year sentence for armed robbery. 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. "To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that a government official, acting under color of state law, deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Heyde v. Pittenger, 633 F.3d 512, 516 (7th Cir. 2011). 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). Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint and supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A and dismiss this action.

The Complaint

Plaintiff was convicted of armed robbery after a jury trial, and sentenced on May 6, 2010, by Defendant St. Clair County Circuit Judge Jan Fiss to 30 years imprisonment. (People v. Richard G. Allen, St. Clair County Case No. 09-CF-1456;;, both sites last visited June 14, 2011). Plaintiff's complaint alleges that his civil rights were violated by a conspiracy between the trial judge (Defendant Fiss), prosecutor (Defendant Tara Mendola), the attorney for Plaintiff's co-defendant (Defendant James Gomric), and other Defendants to wrongly prosecute and convict him in an unfair trial based on false information.

Plaintiff's allegations begin with his arrest: Defendant Jim Ferry, a U.S. Marshal, falsely informed other law enforcement officers that Plaintiff was "wanted for murder and has a history of shooting at cops" (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff claims that this statement resulted in false charges against Plaintiff, and in Plaintiff's family and others being placed in danger when over thirty police officers surrounded a five-block area to arrest Plaintiff.

Plaintiff complains that Defendant Ben Louden, a police officer, lied to the grand jury and attempted to coerce Plaintiff to confess when Plaintiff was arrested without a warrant.

Plaintiff alleges that his indictment was unconstitutional and violated Illinois law, based on Plaintiff's claim that he never was armed or personally discharged a firearm during the incident that resulted in his armed robbery charge. He states that his ...

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