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Eddie Lee Robinson v. Aaron Bandy

March 22, 2012

EDDIE LEE ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AARON BANDY, MARCUS WIETTING, AND CITY OF JOLIET, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Eddie Lee Robinson has sued the City of Joliet and two Joliet police officers, claiming that the officers arrested him without probable cause, caused him to be subjected to excessive bail, and discriminated against him based on his race (African American).*fn1 Robinson has asserted three claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the officers and a Monell claim against the city. All of the defendants now seek summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants defendants' motion.

Background

On a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes all facts favorably to the nonmoving party and makes reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Eaton v. Ind. Dep't of Corr., 657 F.3d 551, 552 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court takes the following facts from the parties' memoranda of law and statements of uncontested facts.

In the early hours of June 26, 2007, Robinson and Cynthia Clarke attended a party at a friend's house in Joliet. After the party, Robinson drove Clarke to her apartment, where she invited him inside. When they arrived, Clarke's acquaintance Darryl Montgomery and Montgomery's friend Dwight Swarn were in Clarke's apartment. Clarke testified that at some point that evening, Montgomery asked Robinson if he had any drugs, and Robinson said he did not.

Clarke and Robinson eventually went into Clarke's bedroom. Robinson asked if he could stay the night, and Clarke said he could. Robinson and Clarke eventually went to sleep on opposite sides of Clarke's bed. Clarke was then awakened around 6 a.m. by Montgomery, who told her that while she was unconscious, Robinson had been lying on top of her and penetrating her sexually. Robinson denied this. Montgomery then called the police and reported a sexual assault.

After receiving word of Montgomery's call from the police dispatcher, Officer Aaron Bandy arrived at the scene, followed by Officer Marcus Wietting. Wietting was accompanied by Officer Jennifer O'Rourke, who at that time was still in training. The officers testified that they spoke to Montgomery, Swarn, and Clarke, each of whom stated essentially what Montgomery had earlier told Clarke. Clarke testified that she is unsure what, if anything, she said to the officers because she has difficulty remembering the incident. The officers also testified that when they spoke to Robinson, he first told them that he had not had any sexual contact with Clarke that evening and then said that there had been some consensual activity between them. The officers testified that they believed that both Clarke and Robinson were under the influence of alcohol.

Around 7 a.m., the officers placed Robinson under arrest, and Wietting and O'Rourke took him to the Joliet police station. Paramedics took Clarke in an ambulance to the hospital, where hospital personnel conducted a physical examination and administered a sexual assault kit. Bandy went to the hospital as well. Gina Reiter, a nurse who cared for Clarke at the hospital, testified that Clarke told her that she had been raped by Robinson and another man in Robinson's car while being driven away from the party. Reiter also testified that the doctor who examined Clarke noted no injuries or internal injuries and that she related all of this information to Bandy. Clarke testified that at some point she told doctors that she had not been raped.

Also around 7 a.m., another officer arrived at Clarke's apartment to look for evidence. The officer filed a report later that day saying that his examination of Clarke's bed "for any kind of seminal or body fluids . . . met with negative results." Pl. Ex. 3. The officer then went to the police station to take a DNA sample from Robinson. The sample, other materials taken from Clarke's apartment, and Clarke's sexual assault kit were sent to the police crime laboratory for further analysis.

Clarke testified that she soon began to have doubts about Montgomery's account of the incident. Soon after the arrest (the record does not indicate on which day), she went to the Joliet police station to attempt to retract her statement. She testified that she spoke with a person at the front desk and said that she did not believe Robinson had raped her, she had been drinking alcohol that night, and she had not been taking the medication she was prescribed after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. She testified that she did not speak to anyone else at the station and does not remember what the person with whom she spoke said to her.

On June 27, 2007, the day after he was arrested, Robinson appeared via video in Will County Circuit Court and was charged with criminal sexual assault, a class one felony. The court assigned the public defender to represent him. The assistant public defender who was present in court waived a Gerstein hearing and recommended that Robinson waive his right to a preliminary hearing, which Robinson did. Upon the prosecutor's recommendation, the court set Robinson's bond at $150,000. The court cited the seriousness of the charge and Robinson's criminal history, which according to the prosecutor included at least seven prior arrests, including one for aggravated assault in 2006, and six years of incarceration. The court then said that Robinson could "file a written motion asking me to reduce the bond with a specific bond amount in mind, but you would have to come up -- it is a Class 1 Felony -- with some substantial bond in order to justify me lowering it." Def. Ex. 8 at 5. Robinson testified that he could not see from the video camera whether any of the officers who arrested him were present at this hearing. The officers testified that they did not attend the hearing.

On October 12, 2007, the crime lab released a report stating that no bodily fluids were identified from Clarke's sexual assault kit and that there was "no analysis necessary" of Robinson's DNA sample. On October 18, 2007, upon a motion by Robinson's lawyer, the court reduced Robinson's bond to $75,000 and released him after his mother posted $7,500. On April 29, 2008, county prosecutors made a nolle prosequi motion in his case, and the case was dismissed.

Robinson filed this lawsuit on June 25, 2009. He initially also sued two county prosecutors, but the Court dismissed them based on the doctrine of absolute immunity. Robinson later attempted to add O'Rourke as a defendant, but the Court determined that claims against her were time-barred. Robinson also initially asserted state-law claims for malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress, which he has since voluntarily dismissed.

Although the Court granted defendants' request for an extension of time to file a reply in support of their motion for summary judgment, they failed to submit a reply in the time allotted and did not seek an extension of time. The Court has therefore ruled on the motion based on defendants' initial memorandum and Robinson's response.

Discussion

Summary judgment is appropriate where the record shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Lexington Ins. Co. v. Rugg & Knopp, Inc., 165 F.3d 1087, 1090 (7th Cir. 1999); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in favor of that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). "The nonmoving party must offer something more than a 'scintilla' of evidence to overcome summary judgment . . . and must do more than 'simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Roger Whitmore's Auto. Servs. v. Lake County, 424 F.3d 659, 667 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).

Robinson has asserted claims against the individual defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false arrest, excessive bail, and violation of equal protection. He has also sued the city under section 1983 based on his allegation that there is a pattern or practice of this type of police behavior.

Robinson has filed a "Motion to Stand on Verified First Amended Complaint," in which he asks the Court to consider a portion of his complaint along with his Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts. By his signed declaration under penalty of perjury that the complaint is true, Robinson has "converted . . . those factual assertions in the complaint that '[are] made on personal knowledge [and] set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence' . . . into an affidavit." Ford v. Wilson, 90 F.3d 245, 247 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). The Court therefore grants Robinson's motion and will consider the assertions in the complaint that comply with Rule 56(e)'s requirements along with the other evidence Robinson has submitted.

A. False arrest and detention

In count one of his complaint, Robinson has asserted a claim under section 1983 that defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights because "there was no probable cause or other lawful justification" for his "arrest and extensive detention." Am. Compl. ¶ 32.

"The actual existence of any probable cause to arrest precludes a § 1983 suit for false arrest." Pourghoraishi v. Flying J, Inc., 449 F.3d 751, 762 (7th Cir. 2006) (emphasis in original). "Probable cause to arrest requires an arresting officer to possess knowledge from reasonably trustworthy information that would lead a prudent person to believe that a suspect has committed a crime." United States v. McCauley, 659 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Under Illinois law, a person commits the offense of criminal sexual assault, a felony, by "commit[ing] an act of sexual penetration [with] force or threat of force [or] know[ledge] that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or is unable to give knowing consent." 720 ILCS 5/11-1.20(a)(1), (2).*fn2

At the outset, the Court makes two observations. First, Robinson cites a wide variety of evidence in support of his contentions regarding probable cause. Much of this evidence, such as Clarke's later testimony that she does not believe Robinson raped her and the negative test results from the sexual assault kit, supports the proposition that no crime occurred. The probable cause inquiry, however, "depends on information known to the police at the time, not on how things turn out." Hebron v. Touhy, 18 F.3d 421, 423 (7th Cir. 1994). "[P]robable cause does not depend on the witness turning out to have been right; it's what ...


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