United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
Frank Thomas brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that
allegedly occurred while he was a pretrial detainee at the
Madison County Jail. He seeks compensatory damages and
injunctive relief. On August 8, 2016, this Court reviewed
Plaintiff’s amended complaint (Doc. 9) and severed the
claims into separate actions pursuant to George v.
Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007). The three claims
that proceeded in this action are as follows:
Count One: Splittorff arrested Plaintiff without a warrant or
probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
Count Two: Splittorff improperly interrogated Plaintiff in
violation of his Fifth Amendment rights;
Count Three: Splittorff searched and confiscated
Plaintiff’s property without a warrant or probable
cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
the Court dismissed these claims on several grounds
(see Doc. 6). First, at the time that Plaintiff
filed his original complaint, his criminal proceedings were
ongoing. The Court therefore declined to address
Plaintiff’s claims related to the circumstances of his
arrest pursuant to the Younger doctrine, which holds
that a federal court must abstain from deciding federal
constitutional claims regarding an ongoing state criminal
proceeding. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971).
Now, however, the website for the Illinois Department of
Corrections indicates that Plaintiff has been convicted of
the crimes Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Theft, and he
is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center.
Because it appears that Plaintiff’s state court
criminal proceedings are concluded, the Court is no longer
barred from hearing the claims, although this statement is
not meant to preclude any defenses Defendant may raise on the
basis of the state court proceedings. It is possible that
Plaintiff’s claims are barred by Heck v.
Humphrey, but as the Seventh Circuit has encouraged
litigants to file their Fourth Amendment claims and similar
claims at the time of the arrest in order to preserve them,
the Court leaves this issue for another day. Wallace v.
City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 421, 427 (7th Cir. 2006)
(“Individuals and attorneys who wish to preserve a
claim for false arrest or similar Fourth Amendment violations
should file their civil rights action at the time of arrest.
It will still be possible, of course, for a district court to
stay any such action until the criminal proceedings are
concluded, should it conclude in its discretion that a stay
would be useful.”)
Court also previously noted that Plaintiff’s original
requested relief included immediate release, a claim that is
more appropriate for habeas corpus proceedings. See
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499-500 (1973).
Plaintiff’s amended complaint contains a request that
the charges against him be dismissed, but because he has
since been convicted, that request is moot and of no further
relevance to these proceedings. Any claims that Plaintiff is
entitled to immediate release from prison must be addressed
in a separate habeas proceeding.
also continues to request the return of his personal
property. As previously explained, the Illinois Court of
Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over suits asserting
damages to property. See Sorrentino v. Godinez, 777
F.3d 410, 413 (7th Cir. 2015). This means that this Court
cannot order the return of any confiscated property, nor can
it order that Plaintiff be compensated for the value of the
property. But Plaintiff also has requested compensation for
his pain and suffering and injunctive relief, which means he
has requested relief that the Court can grant, and the Court
will not dismiss his case on these grounds.
to the merits of Plaintiff’s claims, to state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that
government officials, acting under color of state law,
deprived him of a constitutional right. Christensen v.
County of Boone, 483 F.3d 454, 459 (7th Cir. 2007). An
arrest without probable cause is a violation of the Fourth
Amendment. Driebel v. City of Milwaukee, 298 F.3d
622, 652 (7th Cir. 2002) (collecting cases). Plaintiff has
alleged here that he was arrested without probable cause.
That is sufficient as this stage, and Count One will proceed.
claim in Count Two also survives review. The Fifth Amendment
prohibits compelling any person “in any criminal case
to be a witness against himself.” U.S. Const. amend. V.
Use of a compelled statement against an individual at trial
constitutes an actionable violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. 760, 767 (2003).
Plaintiff has alleged that Splittorff continued questioning
him after he twice invoked his right to remain silent and
failed to read him his Miranda rights. He further
alleges that Splittorff threatened to place charges on his
daughter if Plaintiff did not confess. This is sufficient to
state a claim for a Fifth Amendment violation, and Count Two
Count Three, this claim also survives. Under the Fourth
Amendment, “a search conducted without a warrant issued
upon probable cause is ‘per se unreasonable
... subject only to a few specifically established and
well-delineated exceptions.’” Schneckloth v.
Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 219 (1973) (quoting Katz
v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357 (1967));
United States v. Borostowski, 775 F.3d 851,
864 (7th Cir.2014). Plaintiff has alleged that Splittorff
searched and confiscated his possessions without a warrant.
It is a reasonable inference from the list of allegedly
confiscated property that Plaintiff attached to his original
complaint and incorporated by reference that the search
included both his home and his car. (Doc. 1, p. 7). If
Splittorff did search Plaintiff’s house and car without
a warrant and without a valid exception to the warrant
requirement, then Plaintiff’s constitutional rights
were violated. Therefore Count Three shall be allowed to
HEREBY ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall prepare for
Defendant Splittorff: (1) Form 5 (Notice of a Lawsuit and
Request to Waive Service of a Summons), and (2) Form 6
(Waiver of Service of Summons). The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail
these forms, a copy of the complaint, and this Memorandum and
Order to Defendant’s place of employment as identified
by Plaintiff. If Defendant fails to sign and return the
Waiver of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk within 30
days from the date the forms were sent, the Clerk shall take
appropriate steps to effect formal service on Defendant, and
the Court will require Defendant to pay the full ...