DEREK J. WALSH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
WILL COUNTY ADULT DETENTION FACILITY; MICHAEL O'LEARY, WARDEN; G. MAROTTA; MARY F. NIEMANN; SERGEANT ALEXANDER; R. SLATER; DEBBIE DOE, FRANK DOE and DAVE DOE, Defendants-Appellees
Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois, Circuit No. 13-CH-3206. Honorable Roger Rickmon, Judge, Presiding.
Derek J. Walsh, of Joliet, appellant pro se.
James Glasgow, State's Attorney, of Joliet (Colleen M. Griffin, Assistant State's Attorney, of counsel), for appellees.
JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.Justices Lytton and Schmidt concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] The plaintiff, Derek Walsh, submitted a pro se complaint against the defendants seeking injunctive relief pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (Act) (5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. (West 2012)). The claimant also filed an application for leave to sue as an indigent person under section 5-105 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/5-105 (West 2012)). The trial court denied the claimant's application. This appeal followed.
[¶3] While he was an inmate at the Will County Adult Detention Facility (WCADF), the plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against the WCDAF, its warden, and other WCDAF employees seeking injunctive relief pursuant to the Act. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to disclose certain records, conspired to deny the plaintiff his right to access information in their control, and willfully and wantonly " withheld, tampered, altered, forged, and/or concealed"
certain records in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012)). The plaintiff asked the trial court to temporarily and permanently enjoin the defendants from further altering or destroying public records in their possession and from retaliating against him. The plaintiff also sought the disclosure of records pursuant to the Act, the appointment of counsel or a special investigator to ensure the preservation of evidence, other injunctive relief, and monetary damages for the defendants' alleged violations of the Act and of the plaintiff's federal constitutional rights.
[¶4] In addition to the complaint, the claimant filed a written application for leave to sue as an indigent person under section 5-105 of the Code. In his application, the plaintiff indicated that he had a meritorious claim but that he was " unable to pay the fees, costs, and charges of this case." He stated that was currently unemployed and incarcerated at the WCADF, that he had no sources of income other than " $20.00 gifts from family," that his income from the previous year was $30,000, and that he owned no real estate or personal property. The plaintiff completed and signed the Will County " APPLICATION/ORDER TO SUE OR DEFEND AS A POOR PERSON" form. Although that form provides a space for notarization next to the signature line, the plaintiff did not have his signature notarized. Nor did he submit a separate affidavit in support of his application.
[¶5] Approximately one month later, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff's claim without prejudice sua sponte and denied his application to sue as an indigent person. The trial court's minute order announcing these rulings stated:
" No one appears. Cause comes on for initial return date. The Application to Sue or Defend as a Poor Person is denied. If Plaintiff wishes to proceed with this matter, he must pay the proper fee and refile his case. On Court's motion, cause is dismissed."
[¶6] The plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider the trial court's dismissal of his complaint and denial of his motion to sue as an indigent person. He also filed a motion to waive appearance before the court and to proceed in absentia. The court denied the plaintiff's motion to reconsider without ruling on the plaintiff's ...