United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
ROBERT R. BANKS, #05834-025, Plaintiff,
LORETTA LYNCH, GERARDO S. GUTIERREZ, PAUL G. CHRISTENSON, ALOK A. KALE, EDGAR L. HOWARD, MATTHEW R. SIEGLER, PRESTON HUMPHREY, HUMPHREY, SIEGLER & KALE, LLC, MELISSA A. DAY, RICHARD H. PARSONS, PHILLIP J. KAVANAUGH, and JUDITH A. KUENNEKE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge.
Robert Banks is currently in the custody of the United States
Bureau of Prisons at the Federal Correctional Institution
located in Oakdale, Louisiana. He filed this action pro
se pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v.
Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). In the
complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights
were violated by federal officials in connection with his
underlying conviction and sentence for several drug-related
offenses in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois (Doc. 1, pp. 1-6). More specifically,
Plaintiff asserts that his sentence was erroneously enhanced
under 21 U.S.C. § 851 (id.). Plaintiff now
names the United States Attorney General, seven criminal
defense attorneys, two federal public defenders, and two
assistant federal public defenders for violating his Fifth
Amendment right to due process of law and his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
He seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, and declaratory
judgment against them (id.).
Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
case is before the Court for a preliminary review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under §
1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner
complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion
of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks
for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of
entitlement to relief must cross “the line between
possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557.
Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is
obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see
Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some
factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that
they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's
claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir.
2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as
adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of
action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At
the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro
se complaint are to be liberally construed. See
Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821
(7th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff's complaint does not survive
screening under this standard and shall therefore be
to the complaint, Plaintiff was charged with several
drug-related crimes in this District on or around March 4,
2003 (Doc. 1, p. 4). The Government filed an
“Information to [E]stablish [P]rior [C]onviction”
pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851 on November 6, 2004, and
Plaintiff entered a Notice of Conditional Plea on November 8,
2004 (id.). Over the objections of his attorney,
Plaintiff was sentenced to 360 months of imprisonment on or
around July 27, 2005 (id. at 5). This was allegedly
the maximum allowable sentence for a defendant with one prior
Plaintiff insists that he had no prior criminal convictions.
On July 29, 2005, he filed a direct appeal to challenge the
enhanced sentence. The Court appointed Richard Parsons to
represent Plaintiff in his appeal. Attorney Parsons never
raised this argument on Plaintiff's behalf
filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Plaintiff then filed an
application for leave to file a second or successive §
2255 motion on or around March 26, 2016. In it he argued that
the sentencing court lacked jurisdiction to impose an
enhanced sentence based on false testimony. Less than a month
later, the Seventh Circuit denied Plaintiff's application
instant action followed. In his complaint, Plaintiff claims
that false information regarding his prior criminal
conviction resulted in an enhanced sentence and egregious
violations of his rights under the Fifth and Eighth
Amendments (id. at 5). Plaintiff blames the United
States Attorney General and his own attorneys for these
violations. He seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, and
declaratory judgment against them (id. at 6).
Bivens, the Supreme Court recognized an implied
private cause of action for damages against federal officials
based on violations of a citizen's constitutional rights.
See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388
(1971). See also Correctional Services Corp. v.
Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 66 (2001). Claims brought against
federal officers pursuant to Bivens are analogous to
claims brought against state actors under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Hartman v. Moore, 547 U.S. 250, 254 n. 2
(2006). A complaint supports a § 1983 claim where a
plaintiff alleges that (1) he had a constitutionally
protected right; (2) he was deprived of that right in
violation of the Constitution; (3) the defendant
intentionally caused that deprivation; and (4) the defendant
acted under color of state law. Cruz v. Safford, 579
F.3d 840, 843 (7th Cir. 2009); Schertz v. Waupaca
Cnty., 875 F.2d 578, 581 (7th Cir. 1989). In both
contexts, a plaintiff must allege that the official was
personally involved in a violation of his constitutional
rights and acted with the requisite state of mind.
complaint, Plaintiff does not allege that anyone, other than
Attorney Parsons, was personally involved in a violation of
his constitutional rights. Plaintiff also names Loretta Lynch
(United States Attorney General), Gerardo Gutierrez (defense
counsel), Paul Christenson (defense counsel), Alok Kale
(defense counsel), Edgar Howard (defense counsel), Matthew
Siegler (defense counsel), Preston Humphrey (defense
counsel), Humphrey, Siegler & Kale, LLC (defense firm),
Phillip Kavanaugh (federal public defender), Melissa Day
(assistant federal public defender) and Judith Kuenneke
(assistant federal public defender) as defendants in the
caption of the complaint and in the list of defendants.
However, he makes no allegations against them in the
statement of claim.
are required to associate specific defendants with specific
claims to put defendants on notice of the claims brought
against them and to enable the defendants to properly answer
the complaint. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555;
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Where a plaintiff has not included a
defendant in his statement of the claim, the defendant cannot
be said to be adequately put on notice of which claims in the
complaint, if any, are directed against him. Furthermore,
merely invoking the name of a ...