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McFadden v. Pearl

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 24, 2013

ONAFFIA MCFADDEN, #S-03239, Plaintiff,
v.
RICKEY PEARL, JOHN DOE #1, and JOHN DOE #2, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

G. PATRICK MURPHY, District Judge.

Plaintiff Onaffia McFadden, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on an incident that occurred while he was housed at Shawnee Correctional Center. 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.

Upon careful review of the complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A to identify Plaintiff's cognizable claims.

The Complaint

In his complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff McFadden alleges that on October 15, 2011, his cellmate, who was a known bully, provoked a fight with him. After conducting an investigation, Defendant Pearl, an Internal Affairs officer, issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket, charging Plaintiff with committing a violent assault. Plaintiff appeared for a disciplinary hearing before the Adjustment Committee, which included Defendants John Doe #1 and John Does #2. Plaintiff was offered a plea bargain of sorts: plead not guilty and, if convicted, lose one year of good time credit and be transferred to Tamms Correctional Center, the "super max" prison; or plead guilty and serve nine months in segregation, with no loss of good time credits. Feeling threatened and coerced, Plaintiff pleaded guilty. Nevertheless, Plaintiff ended up losing nine months of good time credit; additionally, Plaintiff was criminally charged in the Circuit Court of Johnson County, Illinois with assault and battery.

According to the complaint, the criminal charges against Plaintiff were dropped after Lieutenant Gressom, an Internal Affairs officer, testified and provided exculpatory evidence previously unknown to Plaintiff. Nearby inmates had overheard the incident between Plaintiff and his cellmate and corroborated Plaintiff's version of events. After Plaintiff had served nine months in segregation, the Administrative Review Board expunged his disciplinary conviction.

Plaintiff contends that Defendants Officer Rickey Pearl, John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 denied him due process when they withheld the exculpatory evidence at the disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff also asserts that he was denied his right to the equal protection of the laws. Plaintiff seeks compensatory, nominal and punitive damages from Defendants in their official and individual capacities.

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se complaint into two counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Against Defendants Rickey Pearl, John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 for denying Plaintiff due process in connection with Plaintiff's November 15, 2011, disciplinary hearing, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; and
Count 2: Against Defendants Rickey Pearl, John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 for denying Plaintiff the equal protection of the law in connection with Plaintiff's November 15, 2011, disciplinary ...

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