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Villars v. Kubiatowski

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 16, 2014

JULIO VILLARS Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN KUBIATOWSKI as Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Illinois; MAURY STRAUB as Ozaukee County Sheriff; JEFFREY SAUDER as Ozaukee County Jail Administrator; DOES OZAUKEE COUNTY JAIL DEPUTIES 1-8; COUNTY OF OZAUKEE; KENNETH COPPES, PATRICK MURRAY, and MICHAEL BARR as Village of Round Lake Beach Police Officer; the VILLAGE OF ROUND LAKE BEACH; GARY BITLER as Round Lake Beach Police Chief; LAKE COUNTY; MARK CURRAN as Sheriff of Lake County; DOES LAKE COUNTY JAIL DEPUTIES SHERIFF 9-13, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ROBERT M. DOW, Jr., District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Stephen Kubiatowski's motion for reconsideration of the Court's May 5, 2014 Order denying in part Kubiatowski's motion to dismiss based on absolute prosecutorial immunity. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Defendant's motion [101].

I. Background

On October 10, 2010, pro se Plaintiff Julio Villars was arrested by police officers from the Village of Round Lake Beach, Illinois ("VRLB") for driving under the influence and fleeing from VRLB officers after they effectuated a traffic stop of Villars's vehicle. According to Villars's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), after completing the booking procedures and signing the paperwork concerning his personal recognizance bond, VRLB - rather than releasing Villars on the bond - transported him to Lake County jail on an allegedly unconstitutional immigration detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"). Villars alleges that he remained there for a month until November 10, 2010, when he was taken to ICE's Chicago office and transferred to the FBI pursuant to a material witness warrant in U.S. v. Diaz, 10-cr-0199. The U.S. Marshals Service then took Villars into custody, before transferring him to Ozaukee County Jail in Port Washington, Wisconsin, where, Villars says, the U.S. Marshals rent bed space to hold federal material witness detainees.

The docket in U.S. v. Diaz reveals that Judge Castillo issued a material witness warrant for Villars on November 3, 2010, following a hearing on AUSA Kubiatowski's October 27 motion. See [54, 56]. In the affidavit attached to his motion, Kubiatowski represented to Judge Castillo that Villars's testimony in U.S. v. Diaz - a case in which Villars had posed as a buyer of methamphetamine at the direction of the FBI - was critical to the government's prosecution of defendant Jose Diaz and that Villars was facing imminent deportation proceedings. For that reason, Kubiatowski advised Judge Castillo that the government would be unable to secure Villars's presence at a potential trial with a subpoena and therefore needed a material witness warrant transferring Villars to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. See Kubiatowski Affidavit in U.S. v. Diaz, 10-cr-0199, [54-1]. According to Villars, sometime after Kubiatowski secured the material witness warrant, he "advised the Court that detention of Mr. Villars would be no longer then [sic] ten days, because the criminal defendants where [sic] entering a plea of guilt." SAC ¶ 185. At Villars's initial appearance on November 15 (the only time when Villars could have feasibly heard Kubiatowski make that representation to the Court), Magistrate Judge Denlow appointed Paul Flynn from the Federal Defender Program as Villars's attorney "for [that] proceeding, only, " and ordered that Villars remain in custody pending his detention hearing, which Judge Denlow scheduled for November 19. See [60].

Villars tested positive for tuberculosis when he returned to Ozaukee County Jail later that day. SAC ¶¶ 142-44. And when he refused to undergo any additional medical evaluation, he was placed in isolation. SAC ¶¶ 145-46. The docket in U.S. v. Diaz reports that on November 19, Judge Denlow cancelled Villars's scheduled detention hearing "due to medical illness as advised by U.S. Marshal" and that the "[c]ase [would] be reset at a later date." [65]. Villars, however, says that he received no information regarding his detention status or his next court date and had no contact with his attorney. SAC ¶¶ 155, 158-59. Finally, on December 30, 2012, after 50 days in Ozaukee County Jail, Villars wrote Judge Castillo a letter, explaining his situation and requesting a detention hearing. See Villars Letter to J. Castillo, SAC Ex. I. Around this time, Villars also undertook a two-day hunger strike in an attempt to force someone to provide him information regarding his detention, an effort that proved successful when jail deputies promised to personally deliver a letter from Villars to the U.S. Marshals Service and get him "the help he needed." SAC ¶¶ 162-65. Villars's allegations jibe with the fact that after November 19, 2010, the next docket entry in U.S. v. Diaz concerning Villars was entered on January 6, 2011, when Judge Denlow scheduled a status hearing "as to material witness Julio Villars-Salazar" for January 11, 2011. [67].

Villars also alleges that he wrote a letter to his attorney Paul Flynn on January 7, 2011, pleading for some type of assistance or information concerning his status. SAC Ex. J. According to the docket, Flynn withdrew as Villars's counsel at the January 11, 2011 status hearing and Ronald Clark was substituted for Flynn. See [69]; SAC ¶ 167. Judge Denlow set a subsequent status hearing for January 13, at which time he scheduled yet another hearing for January 27 and ordered that Villars remain in custody until then. [68, 70]. On January 27, 2011, Judge Denlow conducted a detention hearing as to Villars and, according to the docket, Villars was released from custody "[b]y agreement of the parties." See [74]; SAC ¶ 172. Villars says that he was returned to Ozaukee County Jail after the hearing, and was then transported back to Chicago on February 1, 2011, where he was released from detention, 56 days after he was taken into custody under the warrant. SAC ¶¶ 175, 202.

Villars commenced this suit on June 13, 2012 and filed the twenty-one count SAC [54] at issue here on August 1, 2013. Villars alleges various Fourth Amendment and due process claims against VRLB police officers, Lake County, Ozaukee County, and Ozaukee County jail officials (essentially, anyone that had a hand in Villars's allegedly unconstitutional detention pursuant to his ICE detainer). Villars also sued AUSA Stephen Kubiatowski, in both his official and individual capacities. Count I of his pro se SAC alleges that Kubiatowski violated Villars's due process rights by detaining him longer than was necessary to secure his presence as a material witness at trial. Count II alleges that Kubiatowski violated Villars's due process rights by "adopting and implementing policies" that subjected Villars to "outrageous, excessive, cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions of confinement." Count III alleges that Kubiatowski violated Villars's equal protection rights by (as in Count I) detaining Villars longer than was "necessary to secure his appearance in court" and (as in Count II) "subjecting him to harsh[er] treatment" than other "similarly-situated material witness[es], " because of his race, ethnicity, or national origin. Count IV alleges that Kubiatowski violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable detention and failed to comply with the material witness statute (18 U.S.C. § 3144), the Bail Reform Act (18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)), and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 46(h). At bottom, these four counts allege that Kubiatowski violated Villars's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when Kubiatowski caused Villars to be unlawfully detained by neglecting the prosecutorial duties prescribed by the material witness statute (18 U.S.C. § 3144), the bail reform act (18 U.S.C. § 3142), and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 46(h). SAC ¶¶ 240-41.[1]

Defendants filed motions to dismiss Villars's SAC, on which the Court ruled - dismissing some, but not all of Villars's claims - in a Memorandum Opinion and Order on May 5, 2014 [98]. In Kubiatowski's short motion to dismiss [84], he first argued for the dismissal of Villars's claims against him in his official capacity, an argument that the Court accepted (an official capacity suit is tantamount to a claim against the government itself) and on which the Court ruled in Kubiatowski's favor. But as to the actual merits of Villars's four counts against Kubiatowski in his individual capacity, he devoted a mere page-and-a-half to his argument for the dismissal of Villars's claims. His first page mostly cited to Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976), and Fields v. Wharrie, 672 F.3d 505 (7th Cir. 2012), for general propositions concerning the law of absolute prosecutorial immunity, such as that prosecutors are absolutely immune for activities that are "associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process, " (424 U.S. at 430), and that absolute immunity "encompasses any action directly relevant to a prosecutor's ability to conduct a trial." 672 F.3d at 510. Kubiatowski next summed up his interpretation of Villars's allegations:

Here, Villars alleges that his detention as a material witness was improper under the applicable statute, that Kubiatowski purportedly failed to inform the court of Villars' arrest as a material witness, caused Villars to be detained as a material witness longer than was necessary, failed to provide the court with unspecified information regarding Villars' detention, and failed to inform the court of Villars' continued incarceration as a material witness "without bail or status hearing."

And then devoted (literally) just one sentence to his immunity argument as it pertains to the facts of this case. Citing Daniels v. Keiser, 586 F.2d 64 (7th Cir. 1978), he argued that:

Kubiatowski's efforts to secure Villars' presence at trial through a court-issued arrest warrant and judicially-monitored detention as a material witness fall squarely within the judicial phase of the criminal process and were unquestionably relevant to Kubiatowski's role in conducting a trial.

Kubiatowski MTD at 5.

Villars's 32-page pro se opposition to Kubiatowski's motion is, as Kubiatowski notes in his reply brief, "jam-packed with case law citations and legal arguments, " some of which arguably touch on factual scenarios not alleged in his SAC and thus have no real bearing on this case. For example, Villars devotes a sizable portion of his brief to his argument that Kubiatowski is not immune for executing the material witness warrant and detaining Villars, which are police functions, Villars argues. The Court sees no relationship between those arguments and the Kubiatowski-related claims in his SAC, which - in the Court's view - boil down to allegations that Kubiatowski improperly sought a material witness warrant and then caused him to be unlawfully confined without a statutorily-mandated detention hearing by failing to keep the court apprised of Villars's status as a material witness in violation of Fed. R. Crim. P. 46(h)(2). But among the relevant arguments that Villars made in his pro se opposition brief is that the Seventh ...


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