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Watkins v. Martin

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

July 11, 2016

VICTOR WATKINS (B-37732), Plaintiff,


          Hon. James B. Zagel, Judge

         Plaintiff, Victor Watkins, brought this pro se action alleging Defendant arrested him without probable cause. Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant's motion is granted.


         Consistent with the local rules, Defendant filed a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement of undisputed facts and served Plaintiff a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, which explains in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1.

         Local Rule 56.1 (b)(3) requires that the opposing party's response to the movant's statement of undisputed facts must respond to each numbered paragraph and include specific references to supporting materials for those statements that are disputed. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). In addition, the opposing party must submit their own statement of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment, including references to supporting materials to support the additional statement of additional facts. L.R. 56.1 (b)(3)(C).

         Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants' undisputed facts and he failed to submit his own statement of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment. Instead, Plaintiff submitted "Plaintiffs Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment." Plaintiffs "memorandum" does include Plaintiffs argument in opposition to Defendants' motion and copies of exhibits Plaintiff relies upon in his opposition to the Defendants' motion.

         Plaintiffs status as a pro se litigant does not excuse him from complying with Local Rule 56.1. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) ("we have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel"); Coleman v. Goodwill Indus. of Se. Wis., Inc., 423 F.App'x 642, 643 (7th Cir. 2011) ("Though courts are solicitous of pro se litigants, they may nonetheless require strict compliance with local rules."); Wilson v. Kautex, Inc., 371 F.App'x 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2010) ("strictly enforcing Local Rule 56.1 was well within the district court's discretion, even though Wilson is a pro se litigant") (citations omitted); Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) ("even pro se litigants must follow rules of civil procedure"). Given Plaintiffs failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1(b), Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement are deemed admitted. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) ("All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party."); Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880-81, 884 (7th Cir. 2012); Parra v. Neal, 614 F.3d 635, 636 (7th Cir. 2010); Rao v. BP Prods. N. Am., Inc., 589 F.3d 389, 393 (7th Cir. 2009); Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008) (affirming the district courts's refusal to consider plaintiffs Rule 56.1 response that did not comply with local rule); Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006); Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 943-44 (7th Cir. 2005); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 682-83 (7th Cir. 2003).

         Based on the above, the pertinent facts are as follows:

         At the time of his arrest, Plaintiff was residing in Chicago, Illinois. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 5.) Defendant, Anthony Martin was, and is, employed by the City of Chicago as a police officer and, at all times relevant to this incident, was engaged in the performance of his duties as a member of the Chicago Police Department. (Id., ¶ 6.)

         On August 4, 2011, Donita Nurse discovered that her car door and trunk were open and that her car window was broken. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 7.) Nurse also noticed that some medication and beauty products were missing from the inside of her car. (Id., ¶ 8.) To secure her car, Nurse drove the car to be repaired, which is when she noticed blood on the inner panel door of the car. (Id., ¶ 9.) After having the car repaired, Nurse drove her car to a Chicago Police station to make a report and to have the blood found inside her car swabbed. (Id., ¶ 10.) At the time when Nurse made her initial police report, the incident was recorded as a theft; however, the incident was later described and investigated as a burglary. (Id., ¶ 11.)

         A sample of the blood swabbed from inside Nurse's car was sent to the Illinois State Police Forensic Service Center, which issued a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) report on March 26, 2013, that positively matched Plaintiff to the blood found on Nurse's car. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 12.) On April 8, 2013, Officer Martin arrested Plaintiff at an Alcoholics' Anonymous (AA) meeting. During his state criminal proceedings, Plaintiff moved pro se to suppress his arrest for lack of probable cause. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 15.) On September 19, 2013, the criminal court held an evidentiary hearing on Plaintiffs motion to suppress his arrest. (Id., ¶ 16.) During the hearing, Plaintiff gave an opening statement, elicited witness testimony, and presented closing arguments. (Id.)

         In his opening statement, Plaintiff specified that he was challenging his arrest based on probable cause. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 17.) Detective Freeman testified at the suppression hearing that he was responsible for investigating the alleged burglary of Nurse's car. (Id., ¶ 19.) As part of the investigation, Detective Freeman received the CODIS Report from the Illinois State Police that positively matched Plaintiff with blood recovered from Nurse's car. (Id., ¶ 20.) After receiving the report, Detective Freeman met with Nurse to show her a photo of Plaintiff and to ask if she knew Plaintiff or knew of any reason why his DNA would be in her car. (Id., ¶ 22.) Nurse indicated that she had never seen Plaintiff before and had never given him permission to enter her car. (Id., ¶ 23.)

         Officer Martin then testified that he received the CODIS Report from Detective Freeman. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 24.) Officer Martin used the CODIS Report to locate Plaintiffs contact information, which he then used to call and speak with Plaintiff. (Id., ¶ 27.) During the telephone conversation, Plaintiff agreed to meet Officer Martin later that day and gave Officer Martin his location at an AA meeting, where Plaintiff was later arrested. (Id., ¶ 28.) Officer Martin relied upon police communication from Detective Freeman regarding the burglary investigation into Nurse's car and on the CODIS Report given to him by Detective Freeman to arrest Plaintiff. (Id., ¶ 26.)

         The criminal court denied Plaintiffs motion to suppress his arrest, finding there was probable cause to arrest him. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 29.) Plaintiff moved to reconsider the denial of his motion, but on the day the motion was to be considered, Plaintiff stated that he just wanted to get the case over with and a trial date was set. (Id., ¶ 31.) On October 4, 2013, following a bench trial, Plaintiff was convicted of burglarizing Nurse's car on or about August 3, 2011. (Id., ¶ 14.) On November 18, 2013, Plaintiff appealed his criminal case to the Illinois Appellate Court. (Id., ΒΆ 32.) Plaintiff did not contest the charging instrument underlying his ...

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