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Miller v. Casa

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 22, 2014

JACKIE G. MILLER, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jackie G. Miller, by and through his attorney Joshua M. Bradley, has filed this civil rights action seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The action was commenced on March 26, 2014, and the filing fee has been paid in full. The complaint alleges that Plaintiff is currently in custody in Williamson County, awaiting the resolution of one or more pending criminal charges (Doc. 2, ¶ 12).[1] As such, this case is subject to a preliminary review by the Court 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.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

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.

The Complaint

The instant complaint contains many of the same allegations Plaintiff made in his previously-rejected petitions for habeas corpus relief. Plaintiff now seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the alleged violations of his constitutional rights in connection with the pending Williamson County charges.

The complaint is not a model of clarity. Plaintiff references four separate felony cases which have been brought against him in Williamson County: Case Nos. 10-CF-347, 2012-CF-57, 2012-CF-59, and 2013-CF-102; he also faces a Williamson County misdemeanor charge: Case No. 12-CM-363 (Doc. 2, p. 2; Doc. 2-1, p. 7). In Franklin County, he was charged with two felonies in Case No. 11-CF-236 (Doc. 2-1, pp. 1-3).

The documents from the Franklin County case indicate that petitioner was charged with aggravated domestic battery and unlawful restraint in June 2011 (Doc. 2-1, p. 1). He was quickly released on cash bond, which was revoked in July 2011. He was re-released on a recognizance bond on September 6, 2011, to obtain medical treatment. A condition of his release was that he have no contact with witness Patricia Russell. On February 17, 2012, the Franklin County State's Attorney filed a Second Petition to Revoke Bond alleging that petitioner had communicated numerous times with Ms. Russell in a harassing manner between December 9, 2011, and February 14, 2012. Id. According to Plaintiff, his bond was reinstated in that Franklin County case after the alleged victim/witness failed to appear in court, and he was again released, presumably in February 2012 (Doc. 2, ¶ 9; Doc. 2-1, p. 10).

Soon after Plaintiff's release in Franklin County, the Williamson County State's Attorney filed new charges against Plaintiff. The complaint does not state which of the cases contained these new charges, nor does it disclose the specific offense(s) charged. Plaintiff claims these charges were based upon the same allegations (communicating with Ms. Russell) that had prompted the Franklin County Second Petition to Revoke Bond (Doc. 2, ¶ 8; Doc. 2-1, p. 10). Further, he alleges that the Williamson County State's Attorney knew that the petition to revoke bond had been dismissed, yet brought the charges anyway, in violation of Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8 (Doc. 2, ¶ 11). He attaches an affidavit from an Assistant Franklin County State's Attorney, Phillip Butler, attesting that the "charges brought in Williamson County relate to the exact and cover the same time period as alleged in the Petition to revoke bond that was charged in Franklin County" (Doc. 2-1, p. 10). This Affidavit references all four of the Williamson County felony cases listed above.

Moving on to the issue of Plaintiff's detention, he states that "previously, " he had been held for 185 days in the Williamson County Correctional Facility on the misdemeanor charge(s) in Case No. 2012-CM-363 (Doc. 2, ¶ 7). He does not specify when that detention began or ended, nor does he disclose whether or how that misdemeanor case was resolved, or what relation (if any) it has to the charges that duplicated the Franklin County case.

Plaintiff attaches a Motion to Quash Arrest in Williamson County Case No. 2013-CF-102 (Doc. 2-1, pp. 4-6). This document states that at the time it was filed on November 6, 2013, Plaintiff was being held in the Williamson County Jail on that felony charge. He states that the conduct which gave rise to the charge (an incident between Plaintiff and his former spouse, presumably Patricia Russell) occurred "shortly after [he] pled guilty in Franklin County, Illinois and was released" (Doc. 2-1, p. 4). The complaint also references this Franklin County plea agreement, but gives no further information on it[2] (Doc. 2, ¶ 12). Also on November 6, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Release and Dismiss (Doc. 2-1, pp. 7-9), seeking release from custody and dismissal of all the charges in the four Williamson County felony cases (Nos. 10-CF-347, 2012-CF-57, 2012-CF-59, and 2013-CF-102). The basis for this request was that the Williamson County State's Attorney had filed a charge against Plaintiff after he had been released from custody on the Franklin County Petition to Revoke Bond; that the charge was brought in violation of Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8; and this violation tainted all the charges against him (Doc. 2-1, p. 7).

Plaintiff never states when he was released from jail after the above motions were filed. However, he states that he was "re-arrested" on February 7, 2014, and is currently being held in Williamson County (Doc. 2, ¶ 18). Again, he does not disclose which of the previously-listed pending cases (if any) led to this latest arrest, but states he "is being held on a Class 3 Felony, Intimidation of a Public Official" (Doc. 2, ¶ 19). He further complains that his bond on the intimidation charge was originally set at ...

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