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Armato v. Grounds

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 4, 2014

DAVID ARMATO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
RANDY GROUNDS, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued May 29, 2014

Page 714

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 3:11-cv-03023-RM-BGC -- Richard Mills, Judge.

For DAVID ARMATO, Plaintiff - Appellant: Dennis John DeCaro, Attorney, KUPETS & DECARO, Chicago, IL.

For RANDY GROUNDS, MICHELE LITTLEJOHN, GLENN JACKSON, DION DIXON, EDWARD HUNTLEY, Defendants - Appellees: Timothy M. Maggio, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Chicago, IL.

Before BAUER, KANNE, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 715

Bauer, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant David Armato filed a four-count complaint against five defendants employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections at the Robinson Correctional Center: Randy Grounds, Michele Littlejohn, Glenn Jackson, Dion Dixon, and Edward Huntley. Counts one, two, and three claimed that the defendants violated Armato's constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count four, a state law claim, alleged that the defendants falsely imprisoned Armato. The district court granted defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on all counts, finding that no rational trier of fact could find that Armato was unlawfully detained beyond his court-ordered release date. Armato appeals to this court seeking review of the

Page 716

district court's judgment in favor of defendants on his § 1983 claims.

I. DISCUSSION

Armato, a convicted sex offender, committed two theft offenses in Illinois in 2005, the first on May 7, and the second on December 30. He was convicted of both crimes in separate cases in the Circuit Court of Lake County (Nos. 05 CF 1661 and 05 CF 5015, respectively). On March 6, 2006, Armato was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for the second theft, to run concurrently with his sentence on the prior charge. The judicial orders of that sentence did not impose a term of mandatory supervised release (" MSR" ) and stated that the Illinois Department of Corrections (" IDOC" ) shall administer good time credit to Armato " for time served in the Lake County Jail and while awaiting transport to the Department of Corrections." When the IDOC first processed Armato, he was projected to be released on May 9, 2010, with the mistaken understanding that he had entered state custody on May 9, 2005.

A. Armato's Detainment at the Robinson Correctional Center

Armato arrived at the Robinson Correctional Center in 2007. His sentence was recalculated to reflect the good time credit he earned for his time already served. His new projected release date was November 9, 2009.

Defendant Littlejohn was an office administration specialist and the acting supervisor of the records office at Robinson Correctional Center. One of her primary responsibilities was to calculate every prisoner's release date. In September 2009, Littlejohn began reviewing Armato's paperwork in anticipation of his release. Littlejohn noticed that Armato's file lacked reliable information pertaining to the time he spent in Lake County Jail: it stated that Armato had been incarcerated since May 9, 2005; this was impossible since Armato had committed his second theft offense on December 30, 2005. Using the two criminal judgments sent from the Lake County Jail, Littlejohn recalculated Armato's release to be September 6, 2010. Littlejohn informed Armato of these changes and told him that his release date could again be recalculated if the sentencing court issued a new order detailing any applicable credit. The IDOC advised Armato to seek judicial clarification of his release date.

In February 2010, Armato sought an order to clarify his release date. On February 18, 2010, the Circuit Court of Lake County entered three documents related to Armato: two typed judgments and one handwritten agreed-upon order. The two typed orders were in reference to each of Armato's cases; both orders were signed by Judge Theodore S. Potkonjak and stated in relevant part, " It is further ordered that [w]ith credit for 373 days served in the Lake County Jail--credit for time awaiting transport to the Department of Corrections--good time credit as administered by the Department of Corrections--def to be released from the Department of Corrections without a term of Mandatory Supervised Release." The typed orders did not reference a specific date for Armato's release.

The Assistant Public Defender representing Armato, C. P. Haran, prepared a handwritten order captioned " Agreed Order" that was signed by Judge Potkonjak. The Agreed Order read:

It is hereby ordered that:

1) Mr. Armato shall receive credit on 05 CF 5015 & 05 CF 161 [sic] for 69 days for time in custody from 12/30/05 ...

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