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Mosley v. Davis

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 29, 2014

JAMES C. MOSLEY, SR., # B-50254, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDY DAVIS, BETH CAMPBELL, and S.A. GODINEZ, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

On July 8, 2014, Plaintiff James C. Mosley, Sr., filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his federally secured constitutional rights.[1] Specifically, he states that his rights to due process and equal protection under the law were violated when Defendants refused to give him credit against his prison sentence for time he had served in pre-trial detention, as specified in his negotiated guilty plea and the order of the sentencing court. Further, he suffered injuries from an attack on him while he was confined at Vienna Correctional Center ("Vienna").

Now before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"), i.e., without prepaying the filing fee (Doc. 2). At the time of filing the complaint, Plaintiff had been released from Illinois Department of Corrections custody, and was housed in a personal residence ( see Doc. 2). As such, Plaintiff does not meet the statutory definition of prisoner[2] for purposes of the in forma pauperis statute, which states that "[t]he term prisoner' means any person incarcerated or detained in any facility who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h).

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), a federal district court may allow a civil case to proceed without prepayment of fees, if the movant "submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets [he] possesses [showing] that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor." Plaintiff has done so in the instant case. But the Court's inquiry does not end there, because 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires careful threshold scrutiny of the complaint filed by an IFP plaintiff.

A court can deny a qualified plaintiff leave to file IFP or can dismiss a case if the action is clearly frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim or is a claim for money damages against an immune Defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The test for determining if an action is frivolous or without merit is whether the plaintiff can make a rational argument on the law or facts in support of the claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Corgain v. Miller, 708 F.2d 1241, 1247 (7th Cir. 1983). An action fails to state a claim 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). When assessing a petition to proceed IFP, a district court should inquire into the merits of the petitioner's claims, and if the court finds them to be frivolous, it should deny leave to proceed IFP. Lucien v. Roegner, 682 F.2d 625, 626 (7th Cir. 1982).

The Complaint

Plaintiff alleges that on December 30, 2010, he entered into a negotiated guilty plea to one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, and one count of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff claims he was sentenced to four years on the possession charge and six years on the delivery count, with the terms to be served consecutively. The judge ordered that Plaintiff would receive 306 days of credit for pre-trial detention against the 4-year possession charge, and another 1, 179 days of credit for time served against the 6-year delivery count. The crux of Plaintiff's claim is that he was never given the 306-day credit, and was instead required to serve that time before his eventual release.[3]

In March 2012, Plaintiff filed a post-conviction petition seeking to have the 306 days applied to his sentence. His appeal of the circuit court's denial of relief was ultimately dismissed as moot after Plaintiff was released.[4]

Plaintiff also explained to the Records Office at Vienna Correctional Center (where Defendant Campbell is the records supervisor and Defendant Davis is the Warden) that prison officials were not properly applying the Illinois statute governing consecutive sentences and the application of sentence credit (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). However, they would not give him credit for the 306 days.

Finally, Plaintiff complains that while he was improperly held beyond what should have been his release date, he was attacked (presumably by a fellow inmate). He suffered a broken ankle that required emergency surgery and the placement of rods and screws in his leg (Doc. 1, p. 7). He claims this would never have happened if he had been given credit for the 306 days of pre-trial detention and released at the correct time in accordance with the court's judgment and commitment order.

Plaintiff seeks compensation both for the excessive incarceration and for the personal injuries he suffered as a result of the attack (Doc. 1, p. 8).

Discussion

For the convenience of the Court, Plaintiff's claims shall be designated as follows:

Count 1: Due process claim against Defendants Davis, Campbell, and Godinez for keeping him in prison for 306 days longer than he should have been required to serve, in violation of his plea ...

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