United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
JERMAINE J. DAVIS, Plaintiff
JUDGE LESLIE GRAVES, Defendant.
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
filed this case pro se from the Sangamon County Jail. The
case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. This statute requires the Court to
review a complaint filed by a prisoner to identify the
cognizable claims and to dismiss part or all of the complaint
if no claim is stated.
reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual
allegations as true, liberally construing them in
Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d
645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and
labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to
"'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418,
422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite omitted).
August 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (d/e 1) against
Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Leslie Graves. Plaintiff
is awaiting trial on charges of first degree murder and armed
robbery in Sangamon County Case No. 14-cf-194, and Judge
Graves is the presiding judge. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in
the state court case.
alleges that he filed two motions in the state court case
that Judge Graves denied without “proper case law or
competing facts.” See Compl. at p. 7, ¶
9. Plaintiff does not attach copies of the motions to the
Complaint but provides a description of the
motions. Id. at p. 5-7, ¶¶ 2-6.
The first motion asked for an investigation of certain
recordings by someone other than the Springfield Police
Department or the State's Attorney's office. The
second motion asked that the State make the recordings
available to Plaintiff, as well as provide suitable
facilities for inspection, testing, copying, and
photographing such material. Plaintiff expresses his belief
that the recordings were tampered with and incomplete.
Plaintiff also believes that Judge Graves will not be neutral
and holds a vendetta against him. Id. at p. 7,
relief, Plaintiff asks for a new ruling on the two motions
and a change of venue. Id. at p. 7, ¶ 11.
Specifically, Plaintiff seeks an:
order of judgment of restoration of the court records as
provided in the Act and the investigation and testing by a
specialist of the recordings and if possible a change of
place of trial.
Id. at p. 8. Plaintiff does not seek money damages.
alleges in a separate document, which the Court construes as
part of the Complaint, that his constitutional rights to a
fair trial and equal protection of the law have been
violated. See d/e 3. Therefore, the Court will
construe Plaintiff's Complaint as being brought under 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
acts by Judge Graves about which Plaintiff complains are
judicial acts. See, e.g., Hollins v.
Vandersnick, No. 07-4037, 2007 WL 2937073 at *1 (C.D.
Ill. Aug. 10, 2007) (noting that a judge's rulings during
a hearing are acts performed in a judge's judicial
capacity). A judge is entitled to absolute judicial immunity
for her judicial acts unless she acted in the clear absence
of jurisdiction, even if the action is erroneous, malicious,
or in excess of her authority. Brokaw v. Mercer
Cnty., 235 F.3d 1000, 1015 (7th Cir. 2000).
1996, this doctrine of judicial immunity shielded judicial
officers only from money damages but not from prospective
injunctive relief. See Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S.
522 (1984). In 1996, Congress amended § 1983 to provide
that “in any action brought against a judicial officer
for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial
capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a
declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was
unavailable.” Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1996,
§ 309(c), Pub. L. No. 104-317, 110 Stat. 3847, 3853
(1996) (amending 42 U.S.C. § 1983). The Third Circuit
has described the added language as follows:
The ... amendatory language to § 1983 does not expressly
authorize suits for declaratory relief against judges.
Instead, it implicitly recognizes that declaratory relief is
available in some circumstances, and then limits the
availability of injunctive relief to circumstances in which
declaratory relief is unavailable or inadequate.... A review
of the legislative history confirms this reading of the
amendment. The Senate Report accompanying the amendment
suggests that the amendment's purpose was to overrule the
Supreme Court's decision in Pulliam v. Allen,
466 U.S. 522, 541-43, 104 S.Ct. 1970, 80 L.Ed.2d 565, 80
L.Ed.2d 565 (1984)(holding that judicial immunity was not a
bar to awards of attorney's fees and costs or to demands
for injunctive relief), not to alter the landscape of
Brandon E. ex rel. Listenbee v. Reynolds, 201 F.3d
194, 197-98 (3d Cir. 2000); see also, e.g.,
Sargent v. Emons, 582 F.App'x 51, 53 (2d Cir.
2014) (unpublished) (“Claims for injunctive relief
under section 1983 against judges acting in their official
capacity are therefore barred by absolute judicial immunity
as long as declaratory relief remains available, the judge
did not exceed her jurisdiction, and the plaintiff does not
allege that a declaratory judgment was violated.”)
seeks injunctive relief against a judicial officer. Under
§ 1983, he is not entitled to that relief because he
does not allege that a declaratory decree was violated, that
declaratory relief is ...