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William Dale Carter v. Shawnee Prison Warden Martin

September 6, 2012


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


Before the Court is Plaintiff William Dale Carter's suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights, and his motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, i.e., without prepaying the filing fee (Docs. 10 & 11). When Plaintiff filed his complaint, he had been released from Shawnee Correctional Center. As such, he does not meet the definition of prisoner under the in forma pauperis statute, which states that "[t]he term 'prisoner' means any person incarcerated or detained in any facility who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h). The Court has since received notice that as of August 24, 2012, Plaintiff is back in custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections at Stateville Correctional Center. Yet the status of a plaintiff as a prisoner or non-prisoner is determined as of the date the suit was brought, Kerr v. Puckett, 138 F.3d 321, 323 (7th Cir. 1998), so Plaintiff is still considered a non-prisoner.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), a district court may allow a civil case to proceed without prepayment of fees if the movant "submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets [he] possesses [showing] that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor." Plaintiff has done so here (Docs. 10 & 11). But the Court's inquiry does not end there because 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires careful threshold scrutiny of the complaint.

A court can deny a qualified plaintiff leave to file in forma pauperis or can dismiss the action if it is clearly frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The test for determining if an action is frivolous or without merit is whether the plaintiff can make a rational argument on the law or facts in support of the claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Corgain v. Miller, 708 F.2d 1241, 1247 (7th Cir. 1983). When assessing a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, the court should inquire into the merits of the plaintiff's claims and, if it finds them frivolous, the court should deny the motion. Lucien v. Roegner, 682 F.2d 625, 626 (7th Cir. 1982). An action fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

The Complaint

When he filed his complaint, Plaintiff was on parole from a 20-year sentence for armed home invasion. He was due to be released from Shawnee Correctional Center on December 23, 2011. Several weeks before his release date, he signed papers from the Illinois parole board stipulating that he wear an electronic-monitoring ankle bracelet. He assumed he was required to wear the bracelet due to a previous protection order against him. When Plaintiff went to the Shawnee field-services office on December 23, though, he learned that his parole had been violated because the prison staff did not have all the paperwork completed for Plaintiff's release. A field-services staff member showed Plaintiff the parole violation report, and it stated on the facing page "sex offender." On page two the report asked, "Is this current arrest or alleged violation a sex related offense?" The answer on the report said "yes."

Plaintiff says he is not a sex offender and has never had any sex convictions. He was convicted in 2002 of home invasion, but the jury found him not guilty of "a variety" of sex offenses (Doc. 1, p. 14). See People v. Carter, 841 N.E.2d 1052, 1057 (Ill. App. Ct. 2005) (noting the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the charge of aggravated sexual assault). Yet Shawnee field-services representative Scott Rhine*fn1 rushed and deceived Plaintiff into signing papers Plaintiff did not understand about the conditions of his parole. Rhine did not explain the consequences of the "sex offender" label. Plaintiff told Rhine he was not a sex offender.

On January 11, 2012, Rhine had Plaintiff sign more papers. Rhine was impatient and did not want Plaintiff to read the papers before signing them. After only five minutes, another staff member badgered Plaintiff by asking what was taking so long. Rhine said "We have a reader here" (Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff was released on January 12, 2012.

He filed his complaint in this action on March 5, 2012. His motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed on August 14, states that he was filing it from a county jail in Texas (Docs. 10 & 11). And the Court has since received notice that as of August 24 Plaintiff is in custody at Stateville Correctional Center.


Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court divides it into four counts. The par-ties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless other-wise directed by the Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

As an initial matter, the Court notes that Plaintiff's complaint is devoid of allegations against defendants Martin, Gaetz, Garnett, Buscher, Williams-Schafer, Godinez, Tupy, Monreal, Delany, Duesterhaus, Bizaillion Carter, or the Illinois Department of Corrections. Yet § 1983 "creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus, li-ability does not attach unless the individual defendant caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation." Sheik--Abdi v. McClellan, 37 F.3d 1240, 1248 (7th Cir.1994); Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 593, 596 (7th Cir.2009); Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir.2001). A § 1983 plaintiff therefore must make allegations that "associate specific defendants with specific claims ... so [the] defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them and so they can properly answer the complaint." Willis v. Hulick, Civil No. 09-cv-447-JPG, 2010 WL 358836, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 25, 2010). The only defendant who may have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation here is Scott Rhine. Accordingly, defendants MARTIN, GAETZ, GARNETT, BUSCHER, WILLIAMS-SCHAFER, GODINEZ, TUPY, MONREAL, DELANY, DUESTERHAUS, BIZAILLION CARTER, and the ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS are DISMISSED without prejudice. Plaintiff may add other defendants through a properly filed motion to amend his complaint as he learns their identities through discovery.

Count 1: Violation of due process by the extension of time in prison (denial of parole)

Plaintiff alleges that his due-process rights were violated by the extension of his time in prison. His original release date was December 23, 2011, but he was held until January 12, 2012, because of a parole violation; Plaintiff claims the violation was because the Shawnee prison staff did not have the paperwork completed for his release. He argues that he served an additional 20 days in prison and that, under established rules, parole time served ...

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