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Jackson v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 26, 2014

MAURICE JACKSON, # R-31861, Plaintiff,



This matter is now before the Court for a merits review of Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 5), which was filed on July 1, 2014. Plaintiff, Maurice Jackson, is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), where he is serving a 40-year sentence for murder. On August 14, 2014, this action was dismissed, and the Clerk entered judgment against Plaintiff, based on his failure to prosecute the action and to comply with a court order. The judgment was vacated on September 16, 2014 (Doc. 13), however, after Plaintiff demonstrated that he had attempted to comply with the court's order but was prevented from doing so by events connected to a lockdown at Menard.

Plaintiff claims that he was sexually assaulted by his cellmate on two occasions, and no officials intervened despite his pleas for help after the first attack. He has since been moved to a different cell (Doc. 5, p. 4).

Specifically, according to the complaint, on April 28, 2014, Plaintiff's cellmate began verbally harassing him. This soon escalated into punching, and Plaintiff defended himself by punching back, hurting his fist in the process (Doc. 5, pp. 5, 10). As the confrontation continued, Plaintiff "realized that he was a victim to a rape attempt, because his celly was grabbing his ass and his genitals, and pulling at his boxers trying to pull them down, and ripping them" (Doc. 5, p. 5). After what seemed like an hour, the cellmate got tired and gave up on his attack.

The next day, Plaintiff wrote to Defendants Thomas (Chief of Internal Affairs) and Creason (Psychiatrist Administrator) asking for help. He hoped to resolve the matter quietly, fearing repercussions from the cellmate, who was a gang member. Adding to his fears was the fact that two Menard inmates had been murdered by their cellmates the previous year. Plaintiff got no response to either letter.

On May 1, 2014, Plaintiff wrote a letter to an unnamed official in Springfield, seeking emergency help. He wrote on the outside of the envelope, "I am a victim to an attempted rape." Id. Plaintiff later learned that the letter was not mailed. Instead, Defendant Mezzo placed the envelope back on the cell door where other inmates could see it and asked Plaintiff if it belonged to him (Doc. 5, p. 6).

On May 2, 2014, when Plaintiff was being taken to the doctor for an unrelated matter, he gave Defendant Smith a letter about the incident. Smith showed the letter to a nurse assistant and to Defendant Creason, and then he gave it to Defendant Baker. Plaintiff told Defendant Baker he wanted to report a sexual assault to Defendant Pelker. They then approached Defendant Pelker's desk, and Plaintiff told him, "I want to report a sexual assault." Id. Defendant Pelker just gave Plaintiff a "hideous look, " and Defendant Baker made him keep walking on. When they got back to Plaintiff's housing area, Defendant Baker gave the letter to Defendant Mezzo. Nonetheless, Defendant Mezzo made Plaintiff return to the same cell with the dangerous cellmate. None of the other officials took any action to protect Plaintiff.

On May 4, 2014, Plaintiff re-mailed his letter to Springfield. The next day, while Plaintiff was trying to sleep, he felt his cellmate grabbing his buttocks again and grabbing himself. Plaintiff told him to stop and get away, but instead, he continued pulling and ripping Plaintiff's boxers. He also scratched Plaintiff's thigh, and blood from that injury got on Plaintiff's boxers. Plaintiff kept this blood-spotted, torn pair of boxers as evidence (Doc. 5, p. 7).

The next day, May 6, Plaintiff wrote another letter to Defendant Thomas reporting the second sexual assault. He got no response. He wrote to his appellate attorney's office on May 7, [1]and to Erin Carter (of Internal Affairs; she is not a Defendant in this lawsuit) on May 13.

On May 19, 2014, Plaintiff attended a Pavey hearing conducted by this Court in Jackson v. Hoffman, et al., Case No. 12-cv-233-MJR-SCW (that case was later dismissed). During this proceeding, Plaintiff gave another letter reporting both assaults to Officer Rednour (also not named as a Defendant). C/O Rednour in turn took the letter to Defendant Eversizer, but his complaint was ignored.

On May 25, 2014, after finally receiving two grievance forms, Plaintiff filed a third emergency grievance to the Warden, which he learned was received by her on May 29. Plaintiff also wrote another letter to Defendant Creason, but she still failed to take action. As a result of the emergency grievance, the Warden had Plaintiff moved to a different cell. According to Plaintiff's calculations, he spent 31 days with the dangerous cellmate after he was "victimized twice" (Doc. 5, p. 8).

After Plaintiff was separated from the cellmate, he was questioned by Defendants Spiller and Phelps about the incidents. Accordingly to Plaintiff, however, they refused to do any investigation or inspect the evidence. Plaintiff was then placed in a suicide watch cell and "stripped of his property." Id. He was later moved to a regular cell after he attended a deposition on May 30.

Plaintiff further complains that he wrote to Defendant Grant (an FBI agent), but his letter was not mailed due to insufficient funds. He believes that under prison rules, the letter should have been mailed anyway because he is entitled to send reasonable amounts of "legal mail" at prison expense (Doc. 5, pp. 8-9). He made other attempts to file criminal charges, but nothing was done.

Plaintiff believes that he continues to be in great danger at Menard even after being moved, because on June 19, 2014, Defendant Mezzo threatened him that he had better "drop the shit" (meaning the lawsuit)[2]or he would suffer more than before (Doc. 5, p. 9). Plaintiff did not know what incident of suffering Defendant Mezzo was referring ...

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