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McRae v. Comer

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

February 4, 2015

JERAUN McRAE, (K-61437), Plaintiff,
v.
ROGER COMER, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jeraun McRae's proposed amended complaint [39] and defendant Roger Comer's motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, to stay proceedings based on the doctrine of abstention [31] are before the court. McRae is granted leave to file his amended complaint. The amended complaint supercedes the original complaint. Thus, defendant's motion to dismiss or stay [31] is denied as moot. McRae may proceed with his claims against defendant Comer. McRae may also proceed with his claim that defendant O'Reilly violated his privilege against self-incrimination. All other claims and all other parties are dismissed, including any claims against the prosecutors and public defenders involved in McRae's criminal trial. All claims that were dismissed without leave to replead are preserved for possible appeal. McRae need not and should not repeat them in any future filings. This case will be stayed pending the resolution of McRae's state criminal appeal. The stay will go into effect after additional defendant O'Reilly has been served and the return of service is filed. The parties shall inform the court when McRae's state court criminal appeal has concluded. Defendant Comer has already been served. The United States Marshals Service is appointed to serve O'Reilly. The Clerk is directed to mail a blank USM-285 form to McRae. A completed USM-285 form is required to serve O'Reilly. The Marshal will not attempt service unless and until the required form is received. McRae must therefore complete and return the service form within thirty days of the date of this order. The Marshal shall make all reasonable efforts to effect service. If O'Reilly can no longer be found at the work address provided by McRae, counsel for defendant Comer shall furnish the Marshal with O'Reilly's last known address. The information shall be used only for purposes of effectuating service, or to show proof of service should a dispute arise, and shall neither be kept in the court's file nor released by the Marshal. McRae's motion for recruitment of counsel [43] is denied without prejudice in light of the stay. McRae may renew his motion when the stay is lifted.

STATEMENT

McRae's amended complaint and Comer's motion to dismiss or stay McRae's original complaint are before the court. For the following reasons, McRae is granted leave to file his amended complaint, which states claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution against defendant Comer. The amended complaint also states a Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim against Comer. Finally, McRae has stated a claim against O'Reilly for violation of McRae's privilege against self-incrimination. All other claims and all other parties are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, including any claims against the prosecutors and public defenders involved in plaintiff's criminal trial. Summons shall issue as to unserved defendant O'Reilly. After he has been served, this case shall be stayed pending completion of McRae's state court criminal proceedings.

A. Background

Plaintiff Jeraun McRae is incarcerated in the Vandalia Correctional Center. He filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that he was subjected to false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution due to the actions of Cook County Sheriff Police Narcotics Unit Officer Roger Comer. McRae was arrested on March 12, 2012, after Comer and other officers (Cook County Sheriff's Officers Gary, O'Reilly, Gutter, Aguirre, Gordon, Byrnes, and Rosario) carried out a search warrant at an apartment located at 5200 South Harper Avenue. McRae was present at the apartment, although he alleges in the instant lawsuit that he did not live there and was not staying there for any period of time. McRae was charged with three counts of unlawful use of weapons and one count of possession of a controlled substance. After a bench trial, he was convicted of the weapons counts, acquitted of the drug possession charge, and sentenced to six years in prison.

Following an initial review of McRae's original complaint, this court dismissed a number of defendants and allowed the case to proceed against Comer only. ( See Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.) Subsequently, Comer filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, to stay the proceedings on abstention grounds. (Dkt. No. 31.) Although McRae was given an opportunity to respond and the court extended the deadline for him to do so (Dkt. Nos. 33 and 37), McRae did not file a response. Instead, he submitted a prolix amended complaint that appears chiefly aimed at reviving a previously dismissed claim against his defense counsel (an assistant public defender).

B. McRae's Amended Complaint - Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the court must screen § 1983 complaints filed by prisoners and dismiss them if they are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 214 (2007); Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). McRae's cumbersome pleading has made the court's task of screening the amended complaint unduly difficult. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief"). The amended complaint attempts to state a myriad of claims against numerous defendants, some of whom were previously dismissed upon this court's initial screening of the original complaint.

1. Standard of Review

Courts screen prisoner litigation claims under § 1915A in the same manner as ordinary Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. See Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011). A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. See Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). The short and plain statement required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citation omitted). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, a "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

"In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, [courts] accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true." Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013). Also, it is well-established that courts construe pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.") (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

2. Section 1983 ...


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