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Alan Beaman v. James Souk

March 26, 2012

ALAN BEAMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES SOUK, CHARLES REYNARD, TIM FREESMEYER, ROB HOSPELHORN, DAVE WARNER, JOHN BROWN, FRANK ZAYAS, MCLEAN COUNTY ILLINOIS, AND TOWN OF NORMAL ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy Mcdade United States Senior District Judge

E-FILED

Monday, 26 March, 2012 03:38:11 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION and ORDER

Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff‟s First Amended Complaint filed by Defendants James Souk, Charles Reynard, and McLean County (Doc. 54), Plaintiff Alan Beaman‟s Response to the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 62), the Report and Recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge Cudmore (Doc. 65), the Objection filed by Defendants Reynard and Souk (Doc. 66), and the Response to Objections filed by Plaintiff (Doc. 67).

For the reasons set forth below, the Report and Recommendation (Doc. 65) is ACCEPTED and the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 54) is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

In 1995, Plaintiff, Alan Beaman, was convicted and sentenced to 50 years of incarceration for first degree murder in the 1993 death of Jennifer Lockmiller. The case was investigated by Timothy Freesmeyer, Rob Hospelhorn, and Dave Warner, detectives in the City of Normal Police Department, Frank Zayas, a lieutenant in the Normal Police Department, and John Brown, a McLean County Deputy Sheriff. Plaintiff was prosecuted by Charles Reynard, the McLean County State‟s Attorney, and James Souk, an Assistant State‟s Attorney. Plaintiff‟s conviction was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court on May 22, 2008. People v. Beaman, 890 N.E.2d 500 (Ill. 2008).

The evidence against Plaintiff was circumstantial, there being no witness or direct evidence to the crime. Lockmiller was killed in her apartment located in Normal, Illinois. Her body was not discovered immediately and it was not possible to pinpoint the exact time of death; however, investigators determined that she was murdered around 12:00 p.m. on August 25, 1993. She had been both stabbed with scissors and strangled with the cord from a clock radio (strangulation was the cause of death). There was no evidence of a struggle or forced entry into the apartment. Defendant Freesmeyer was the lead detective on the case. Plaintiff alleges that the prosecutor Defendants, Reynard and Souk, were "intimately involved throughout the course of the investigation." Plaintiff allegedly became a suspect because he was an ex-boyfriend, having broken up with Lockmiller a month prior to her death, and because there were no other viable suspects. At the time of the death, Plaintiff lived in Rockford, Illinois, 140 miles from Normal. Investigators theorized that Plaintiff drove to Normal on August 25, 1993 after visiting a bank in Rockford at 10:11 a.m., killed Lockmiller at 12:00 p.m., and then drove back to Rockford where he was observed by his mother (with whom he was living at the time) in his room at 2:16 p.m.

Plaintiff‟s alibi consisted of two phone calls that he made at 10:37 a.m. and 10:39 a.m. from his home in Rockford to a church: the timing of the calls would have made it "practically impossible" for Plaintiff to have driven to Normal in order to kill Lockmiller at 12:00 p.m. Freesmeyer attacked this alibi by testifying at trial that it would have been impossible for Plaintiff to have driven from the bank to his home in time to make the phone calls (that is, somebody else must have made the calls). Freesmeyer‟s testimony was based on timed driving runs that he did from the bank to Plaintiff‟s home via a "direct route." Plaintiff alleges that both Souk and Reynard were involved in or participated in these trial runs. Freesmeyer and Souk also affirmatively represented to the grand jury and in pretrial proceedings that no other persons were implicated in the murder.

Plaintiff filed an eight count Complaint in this Court alleging violations of his Due Process Rights in addition to various state law claims of malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff believes that his Due Process Rights were violated when Defendants, individually, jointly, and/or in furtherance of a conspiracy, withheld "material exculpatory evidence" from Plaintiff and his counsel during his criminal trial. This evidence includes reports documenting a second timed driving run (hereinafter "bypass route") conducted by police, of an alternate route from the bank to Plaintiff‟s home which showed that Plaintiff could have made it home in time to make the phone calls to the church. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants withheld evidence of another person, John Doe, who also could have committed the murder. According to Plaintiff, Defendants knew that Doe was also an ex-boyfriend of Lockmiller, that he sold drugs to Lockmiller in the past, that she owed him money for the drugs, that he was evasive and nervous during interviews with police, that he had no alibi during the time of the murder, that he failed to complete a polygraph examination, that he had been arrested for domestic battery of his current girlfriend, that he expected to rekindle his relationship with Lockmiller, and that he was taking steroids which made his behavior erratic. Plaintiff states that he did not become aware of this evidence until post-conviction proceedings. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants violated his Due Process Rights by failing to intervene to prevent constitutional violations. In his allegations, Plaintiff groups Defendants together by alleging that they acted "individually, jointly, and in conspiracy."

Plaintiff also has alleged state law claims of malicious prosecution, that Defendants engaged in a conspiracy "to accomplish an unlawful purpose by unlawful means," and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Finally, Plaintiff asserts that Town of Normal is liable, under a theory of respondeat superior, for the torts committed by its employees and that the Town of Normal and McLean County must indemnify the individual Defendants.

In summary, Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants violated Due Process by withholding exculpatory evidence with respect to John Doe and the bypass route (Count I), that they engaged in a conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of this exculpatory evidence in violation of Due Process (Count II), that these Defendants failed to intervene to prevent constitutional violations in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count III), that they maliciously prosecuted Plaintiff in violation of state law (Count IV), that they engaged in a civil conspiracy in violation of state law (Count V), that they intentionally inflicted emotional distress (Count VI), and claims for respondeat superior (Count VII-against Town of Normal), and indemnification (Count VIII).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 3, 2011, this Court dismissed Count I (§ 1983 Due Process) without prejudice as to Defendants Brown, Reynard, and Zayas. (Doc. 48 at 15). Additionally, the Court determined that prosecutor Defendants Reynard and Souk were entitled to absolute immunity and qualified immunity on Count I. (Doc. 48 at 17-20). Accordingly, Count I was dismissed as to Reynard and Souk.

The Court also concluded that Count II (§ 1983 conspiracy), Count III (§ 1983 failure to intervene), and Count V (state law civil conspiracy) failed to meet notice pleading requirements, as they were too vague and conclusory. (Doc. 48 at 23, 30). The Court dismissed these counts without prejudice and granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint within 15 days. (Doc. 48 at 31). Because Plaintiff had not objected to Magistrate Judge Cudmore‟s recommendation of dismissal of the "bypass route" and respondeat superior claims against McClean County in that court‟s first Report and Recommendation, those claims were dismissed. (Doc. 48 at 7-8, 30).

As for the state law claims, the Court found that the Defendants failed to carry their burden of showing that they are entitled to absolute immunity on those claims. In so finding, the Court focused on a possible conflict in Illinois case law regarding whether a prosecutor‟s "malicious motive" precludes absolute immunity, or conversely, whether Illinois prosecutorial immunity simply tracks federal absolute prosecutorial immunity. (Doc. 48 at 25). Additionally, the Court determined that Plaintiff‟s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was not time-barred, and that the issue of probable cause on the state malicious prosecution claim was a factual inquiry that could not be resolved on a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 48 at 28-29). Finally, the Court indicated that "Plaintiff has generally failed to sufficiently allege facts that would render each individual Defendant liable for the alleged conduct," and that Defendants therefore "cannot be placed on notice of the claims against them." (Doc. 48 at 30). The Court noted that this flaw marred both Plaintiff‟s state law and federal law claims. The Court admonished Plaintiff to "give serious consideration to parsing out which claims will be asserted against each individual Defendant and the reasons therefore." (Doc. 48 at 30).

On March 17, 2011, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 50), which was later replaced by a corrected First Amended Complaint (Doc. 63) (corrected to reflect Defendant Brown‟s title as a McLean County Deputy Sheriff, rather than as a lieutenant for the Town of Normal Police Department). The First Amended Complaint adds detail regarding the involvement of the prosecutor Defendants Reynard and Souk. For example, Plaintiff now alleges that Reynard and Souk both approved a series of "consensual overhear" requests, taped conversations that were later used as evidence against Plaintiff at trial. Souk and Reynard also participated in the daily "investigators‟ meetings" held in the Normal Police Department, during which the State‟s Attorneys and detectives planned strategy, discussed the available evidence, and developed potential suspects. It was during one or more of these meetings that the investigative team, which included defendants Zayas, Hospelhorn, Brown, Warner, Freesmeyer, Souk, and Reynard, made the decision not to disclose evidence to the defense concerning the existence of John Doe as an alternative suspect. During another such meeting, in May 1994, the team decided to arrest Plaintiff for the murder of Lockmiller. (Doc. 63 at 5-6). Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Reynard and others supported Freesmeyer‟s reliance upon Michael Swain to help inculpate Plaintiff through Swain‟s participation in "consensual overhears" (eavesdropping sessions over the phone and in person), despite the fact that Swain himself was still a suspect at the time the overhears took place. (Doc. 63 at 7).

The First Amended Complaint adds additional detail to Plaintiff‟s conspiracy and failure to intervene claims. (Doc. 63 at 14-17). Plaintiff now alleges that Defendants Freesmeyer, Hospelhorn, Warner, Brown, Zayas, Souk, and Reynard entered into a voluntary agreement that they would not disclose to Plaintiff any information concerning John Doe, and thereby insured that Plaintiff was wrongfully prosecuted for Lockmiller‟s murder. The individual Defendants held daily meetings during the course of the investigation in which they discussed, among other things, the viability of potential suspects. During one or more such meetings, the individual Defendants made an agreement or series that they would not disclose the existence of an alternative suspect, John Doe, to Plaintiff or his criminal defense counsel.

(Doc. 63 at 15). Pursuant to this alleged conspiratorial agreement, Plaintiff maintains that the police Defendants "purposefully omitted any significant mention of Doe from police reports and any other records turned over to the defense." (Doc. 63 at 15).

As to the conspiracy claim against the prosecutor Defendants specifically, Plaintiff now argues that through their participation in the investigators‟ meetings "Souk and Reynard learned about Doe‟s existence and the circumstantial evidence suggesting his guilt." (Doc. 63 at 16). However, Plaintiff alleges that after learning of these facts "Souk and Reynard agreed with the individual police Defendants that the information about Doe should be concealed." (Doc. 63 at 16). Plaintiff also maintains that Souk and Reynard actually "approved the overhear requests used to attempt to develop evidence against plaintiff," that "Souk signed the warrant for Plaintiff‟s arrest," and that "Souk intentionally and falsely stated that the police had no other suspects, other than Plaintiff, for Lockmiller‟s murder" during a pre-trial conference. (Doc. 63 at 17). In addition to Plaintiff‟s allegations that Souk and Reynard participated in the daily investigators‟ meetings at the Normal Police Department, Plaintiff claims that [t]hroughout the investigation, Souk was in "daily contact" with Freesmeyer, the lead investigator in the case; Souk reviewed all of Freesmeyer‟s police reports (both those that became part of the official investigation record and those that did not; Souk "knew what was important" in the investigation "and what wasn‟t"; and Freesmeyer looked to Souk for direction in handling the investigation. (Doc. 63 at 17).

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Defendants Reynard, Souk, and McLean County filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff‟s First Amended Complaint (Doc. 54). These Defendants moved to dismiss only the state law claims, as Plaintiff indicated in the First Amended Complaint that he included the federal claims only for purposes of appeal.

In their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants devote all of their efforts to establishing that there is no "malicious motive" exception in the Illinois prosecutorial immunity analysis. Defendants argue that because there is no such exception, the prosecutor Defendants are necessarily ...


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