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Felton v. City of Chicago

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

September 8, 2014

JOSEPH FELTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

MILTON I. SHADUR, Senior District Judge.

Pro se prisoner plaintiff Joseph Felton ("Felton") has utilized the printed form of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") Complaint made available for that purpose by the Clerk's Office to charge the City of Chicago ("City") and its Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy with the claimed violation of his constitutional rights by unnamed Chicago Police Officers (not Superintendent McCarthy himself) through their claimed use of excessive force and attempted murder. This memorandum order is issued to address a number of problems revealed by this Court's preliminary screening called for by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).[1]

To begin with, although Felton has also submitted a Clerk's-Office-supplied form of In Forma Pauperis Application ("Application"), he has not even come close to satisfying the requirements of Section 1915 in that respect. Section 1915(a)(2) calls for any such application to be accompanied by a copy of the plaintiff's trust fund account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. Felton has left blank the space above his signature calling for the date on which he signed the Complaint, but the document's receipt in the Clerk's Office on September 4, 2014 suggests a probable date of "filing"[2]of (say) September 2 (September 1 was Labor Day, a court holiday). But instead of covering the six months from March through August 2014, the Application bears a May 16, 2014 signature by Felton and a May 7, 2014 certification by the financial officer at the Cook County of Corrections ("County Jail, " where Felton is in custody) - and so the trust fund printout reflects only transactions beginning with April 1 and ending with May 6, 2014. Accordingly Felton is ordered to supplement his initial filing with a printout of his trust fund account transactions at the County Jail for the required period of March 1 through September 1[3]on or before September 26, 2014.

Now to the substantive aspects of Felton's Complaint as set out in his Statement of Claim (Complaint ¶ IV). In that respect neither the City nor Superintendent McCarthy is a proper Section 1983 defendant - but that defect would likely be curable if the action were to survive, so that issue will be put aside while more grievous problems are dealt with.

On that score this Court will credit Felton's account of the serious injuries he sustained - but it was painfully obvious to this Court on reading his skeletal account of the incident that produced those injuries that he had omitted critical facts that would (at a minimum) cast more light on whether those injuries resulted from his own flight in what appeared from his narrative to be a high-speed chase, rather than from the action of police in pursuing him. In the vernacular, even a threshold of the Complaint reading cast serious doubt on whether his version could pass the smell test.

Those suspicions led this Court to have one of its law clerks obtain and print out the news accounts that were clearly to be expected to report an incident of the type to which Felton's Complaint refers. Instead of expending further resources in recapping what those newspaper accounts reflected, this Court has attached Ex. 1 (which reproduces an article from the March 17, 2014 Chicago Tribune), Ex. 2 (which reproduces the Chicago Tribune article on the following day) and Ex. 3 (which reproduces the Chicago Sun Times article of March 17).

It is frankly an affront to the judicial system for Felton to attempt, like the alchemists of the Middle Ages, to transmute base metal into gold. Section 1915A(b)(1) amply justifies the dismissal of both Felton's Complaint and this action as frivolous, and this Court so orders. That, however, does not alter or excuse his payment of the $350 filing fee that he remains obligated to pay, so that the earlier provisions of this memorandum order that require him to provide a supplemental filing as to his trust fund account transactions at the County Jail remain in effect.


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