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David Armato v. Randy Grounds

May 1, 2013

DAVID ARMATO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RANDY GROUNDS, MICHELLE LITTLEJOHN, GLENN JACKSON, DION DIXON, AND EDWARD HUNTLEY, ALL IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge:

E-FILED

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

The Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is allowed for the following reasons.

I.

Plaintiff David Armato is a sex offender from the Chicago metropolitan area.*fn1

Armato committed two theft offenses in Lake County, Illinois, in 2005-one on May 7, 2005, and the other on December 30, 2005. He was convicted of the crimes in two separate cases in the Circuit Court of Lake County (Case Nos. 05 CF 1661 & 05 CF 5015). On March 6, 2006, Armato was sentenced in each case to ten years imprisonment, to run concurrently. The sentencing judge did not impose any term of mandatory supervised release, and the judgments from each case state that "it is further ordered that Defendant shall receive credit for time served in the Lake County Jail and while awaiting transport to the Department of Corrections -- Defendant shall receive good time credit as administered by the Department of Corrections."

When Armato was processed through the Illinois Department of Corrections' (IDOC) reception center, he was projected to be released on May 9, 2010. This release date was based on the understanding that Armato had entered custody on May 9, 2005.

In 2007, Armato arrived at Robinson Correctional Center, Robinson, Illinois. He was awarded good time credit during his time in IDOC, and his projected release date was recalculated.

In September 2009, Defendant Michelle Littlejohn-an office administration specialist and acting records office supervisor at Robinson-began reviewing Armato's paperwork in anticipation of Armato's release date of November 9, 2009. In doing so, she realized that the information regarding Armato's incarceration at the Lake County Jail was inaccurate, because it reflected that he had been incarcerated continuously since May 9, 2005, but he committed his second theft offense on December 30, 2005.

Littlejohn was unable to obtain complete information regarding jail credit because information had been lost by Lake County. Based solely on the information contained in the two criminal judgments from Lake County, Littlejohn recalculated Armato's sentence, and determined that his new release date would be September 6, 2010. Littlejohn informed Armato of these developments, and informed him that further recalculation could occur if the sentencing court issued new sentencing orders detailing the appropriate jail credit applicable.

On February 18, 2010, the Circuit Court of Lake County entered three documents related to Armato. A handwritten sentencing order was signed by Circuit Judge Theodore S. Potkonjak. The handwritten order was prepared by Assistant Public Defender C.P. Haran, and is captioned as an "Agreed Order." In the handwritten order, the caption indicates that it applies to both of Armato's theft cases-Nos. 05 CF 5015 & 05 CF 1661. Below is the full text of the handwritten order:

It is hereby ordered that:

1) Mr. Armato shall receive credit on 05 CF 5015 & 05 CF 161 [sic] for 69 days for time in custody from 12/30/05 (date of offense of 05 CF 5015) through March 6, 2006. Defendant had not previously received this credit. (Defendant receives this in addition to original credit for time served[.])

2) Mr. Armato was not admonished on the record regarding any term of Mandatory Supervised Release.

3) Mr. Armato's mittimus shall be amended to include the additional 69 days credit in paragraph (1) and NO term of Mandatory Supervised Release.

4) Mr. Armato shall be released from the Department of Corrections, without a term of MSR, on Friday, May 28, 2010.

In addition, the Court entered a new typewritten judgment in each of Armato's cases, each of which stated the following: "It is further ordered that [W]ith credit for 373 days served in the Lake County Jail -- credit for time awaiting transport to the Department of Corrections -- good time administered by the Department of Corrections -- def to be released from the Department of Corrections without a term of Mandatory Supervised Release."

On February 22, 2010, Littlejohn received materials from the Circuit Court of Lake County, recalculated the sentence, and determined that, with the credits given by the Circuit Court, Armato's release date was August 23, 2009.

Littlejohn was concerned with the Circuit Court's statement that no term of mandatory supervised release (MSR) was imposed. Littlejohn contacted the Assistant State's Attorney who handled the case, and Littlejohn was informed that the Judge had indeed intended that no term of MSR be imposed.

Under Littlejohn's understanding of Illinois penal law, the imposition of MSR in Armato's case was mandatory. Littlejohn raised her concerns regarding Armato with IDOC colleagues, and by the end of February 23, 2010, the following individuals had been made aware of the situation: Defendant Glenn Jackson, Chief Records Officer at IDOC Headquarters; Defendant Edward Huntley, Chief Counsel and Special Litigation Counsel at IDOC Headquarters; another attorney at IDOC Headquarters; an attorney for Illlinois Prisoner Review board (PRB); and the coordinator for sex offender services at IDOC Headquarters.

It was determined that Armato was not eligible to be civilly committed as a sexually violent person.

The Defendants and other state employees expressed concerns with the sentence imposed by the resentencing judge. Like Littlejohn, there was a belief that the imposition of MSR was mandatory in Armato's case. An attorney at IDOC headquarters wrote the following in a group email: "The Court in my opinion cannot legally sentence the offender without a term of MSR. Unless we challenge the order through the AG's office I think we are bound to follow the Order."

However, there were concerns that if Armato was subject to MSR, he could not be released from the institution. As a sex offender, there are strict conditions associated with being released under MSR. The principal concern was that he would be subject to electronic monitoring, and, as a consequence, would have to find a suitable host location approved by IDOC. Efforts were made to find a suitable host location, but they were fruitless.

Littlejohn determined that with the credits granted on the two typewritten judgments entered February 18, 2010, Armato's release date was August 23, 2009, and as a result was subject to release.*fn2 However, the officials determined that Armato was subject to MSR by operation of law, notwithstanding the order entered by the sentencing judge. They further determined that although Armato ...


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