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Ramsey v. Christ

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 15, 2014

ARNETT F. RAMSEY, #B-82889, Plaintiff,
v.
JOE CHRIST, MICHAEL COOK, J. COBB, MILTON WHARTON, MIKE METTES, PAUL STORMETMENT, III, PROSECUTORS OFFICE, and STATE OF ILLINOIS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Arnett Ramsey, an inmate who is currently incarcerated in Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). Plaintiff is currently serving a 3-year sentence for a drug-related conviction and a 5-year sentence for reckless homicide. Plaintiff claims that he was coerced into accepting the 5-year sentence for reckless homicide, as a result of attorney, prosecutorial, police, and judicial misconduct (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff now sues eight defendants for violating his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He seeks monetary damages in the amount of $250, 000.

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility." Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under Section 1915A and summarily dismiss this action.

The Complaint

Plaintiff sues defendants Joe Christ[1] (former prosecuting attorney), Michael Cook[2] (former St. Clair County Judge), J. Cobb (East St. Louis Police Department officer), Milton Wharton (retired St. Clair County Judge), Mike Mettes (attorney), and Paul Storment, III[3] (attorney), as well as the St. Clair County Prosecutors Office and the State of Illinois, for violations of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2, 7). Plaintiff's statement of claim covers four bullet points and spans a single page.

Plaintiff alleges that he was coerced into waiving his right to a jury trial in a criminal case, Case No. 05-CF-1779, based on the unlawful conduct of these members of the bar, judiciary, and law enforcement (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff's criminal case was originally assigned to Defendant Wharton on August 3, 2012. Defendant Christ requested reassignment of the case to Defendant Cook. Thereafter, Defendant Christ allegedly "forced [Plaintiff] to take 5 years I.D.O.C. time against [his] will, " by threatening Plaintiff with a "65 year sentence at 100%." Defendant Christ allegedly told Plaintiff that he "could make that happen in front of Judge Cook." Plaintiff claims that he was denied the right to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment.

The complaint also alleges that Defendant Cobb admitted in open court that he used threats and coercion to "force[] witness signatures on a photo line-up." Despite this admission, Defendant Wharton did not dismiss the evidence at issue.[4] Plaintiff claims that this violated his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Finally, the complaint alleges that Defendant Mettes and Storment "created a Brady violation concerning Case #05-CF-01779" between February and August 2012. The complaint includes no additional allegations in support of this claim (Doc. 1, p. 7).

Plaintiff now sues the defendants for violating his right to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment and his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. He seeks monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 8).

Discussion

After fully considering the allegations in the complaint, the Court concludes that it fails to state a cognizable claim against any defendant. Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for constitutional deprivations that resulted from his criminal proceedings. However, plaintiff ...


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