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Reimann v. Hanley

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division

October 4, 2016

Matthew Reimann (N-81060), Plaintiff,
Brion Hanley, et al., Defendants.


          Philip G. Reinhard United States District Court Judge

         Plaintiff's renewed application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [7] is granted. The court orders the trust fund officer at plaintiff's place of incarceration to deduct $7.60 from plaintiff's account for payment to the Clerk of Court as an initial partial payment of the filing fee, and to continue making monthly deductions in accordance with this order. The Clerk of Court shall send a copy of this order to the trust fund officer at the Stateville Correctional Center. Plaintiff's motion to proceed as a John Doe [5] is denied. Plaintiff may proceed with claims against Defendants Hanley, Hoffman, Gomez, Hardy, and Lohiser as outlined in this order. All other claims and defendants are dismissed for the reasons stated in this order. The court further directs the Clerk of Court to: (1) file plaintiff's complaint [1]; (2) correct the spelling of plaintiff's last name on the docket to “Reimann”; (3) issue summonses for service on defendants Hanley, Hoffman, Gomez, Hardy, and Lohiser by the U.S. Marshal; and (4) send plaintiff five blank USM-285 service forms, a magistrate judge consent form, filing instructions, and a copy of this order. The court advises plaintiff that a completed USM-285 (service) form is required for each named defendant. The U.S. Marshal will not attempt service on a defendant unless and until the required forms are received. The U.S. Marshal is appointed to serve the defendants. Plaintiff's motion for attorney representation [4] is denied without prejudice to renewal later in this case.


         Plaintiff Matthew Reimann, a prisoner confined at the Stateville Correctional Center, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that prosecutors breached the terms of a cooperation agreement and caused his identity as an informant to be revealed, subjecting him to a risk of harm by other inmates.

         Currently before the court are plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, his complaint for initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, his motion for leave to proceed as a John Doe, and his motion for attorney representation.

         Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis demonstrates he cannot prepay the filing fee and is thus granted. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), (2), the court orders: (1) plaintiff to immediately pay (and the facility having custody of him to automatically remit) $7.60 to the Clerk of Court for payment of the initial partial filing fee and (2) plaintiff to pay (and the facility having custody of him to automatically remit) to the Clerk of Court twenty percent of the money he receives for each calendar month during which he receives $10.00 or more, until the $350 filing fee is paid in full. The court directs the Clerk of Court to ensure that a copy of this order is mailed to each facility where plaintiff is housed until the filing fee has been paid in full. All payments shall be sent to the Clerk of Court, United States District Court, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, attn: Cashier's Desk, 20th Floor, and shall clearly identify plaintiff's name and the case number assigned to this case.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff's factual allegations seem far-fetched and exaggerated. Nonetheless, at the pleading stage, these allegations must be accepted as true unless the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

         Plaintiff's allegations are as follows. Plaintiff alleges that from August 30, 2012, through September 5, 2012, he was housed in the DeKalb County Jail because of a pending post-conviction petition. At that time, he came into contact with Jack McCullough, who was awaiting trial for murder.

         Plaintiff alleges that on September 7, 2012, he was visited by Illinois State Police Special Agent Brian Hanley and Sycamore Police Detective Daniel Hoffman to discuss his interactions with McCullough. Plaintiff alleges that he initially told investigators he could not help them because he was fearful of his safety should gang members in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) learn that he had assisted police.

         Plaintiff alleges that after hearing his account of his conversations with McCullough, the officers, in conjunction with then-DeKalb County Assistant State's Attorneys Julie Trevarthen and Victor Escarcida, reached an agreement with him to allow him to testify anonymously at McCullough's trial, along with other concessions, in exchange for his testimony.

         The agreement, according to plaintiff, included: (1) DeKalb County prosecutors would seek a “gag order” to prevent his identity from being disclosed to the public without order of court; (2) prosecutors would waive a timeliness defense to his pending post-conviction petition; and (3) authorities would discuss with prison administrators the reduction of plaintiff's security classification and his transfer to Dixon Correctional Center to be closer to an elderly family member.

         Plaintiff contends that pursuant to that agreement, prosecutors requested that he be allowed to testify anonymously in the McCullough trial, which was granted. Prosecutors also requested a “gag order” to prevent disclosure of his identity, which also was granted.

         On September 12, 2012, plaintiff testified as a John Doe in the McCullough case, which was presided over by Judge Hallock. However, by his own admission, plaintiff denied that any promises were made in exchange for his testimony. Plaintiff contends that Hanley had admonished him to avoid “magic words” that could undermine his testimony. He further contends that Hanley promised him that he had nothing to worry about, and that his identity would be protected.

         Plaintiff also states that he asked to meet with his attorney in his post-conviction proceeding, Peter Gruber, prior to his testimony, but he was only able to speak with him briefly before being called to the stand to testify. Later that night, according to plaintiff, Gruber visited plaintiff in jail, where plaintiff told him about the promises made by the state and Hanley's admonition to him that he should deny that any promises were made.

         The crux of plaintiff's complaint is that prosecutors failed to follow through on this oral agreement for him to provide testimony in the McCullough trial, and that someone involved in the prosecution violated the gag order, subjecting him to a risk of harm in prison.

         Following his testimony, plaintiff was returned to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. On September 21, 2012, plaintiff received a letter and card from McCullough's sisters (who believed McCullough to be guilty and supported his prosecution) thanking him for his testimony. Plaintiff alleges that Trevarthen disclosed his identity to the women in violation of the gag order. His only support for this allegation is a Facebook posting by one of the sisters. In that posting, the sister indicates that she communicated with Trevarthen about an informant in the case who was seeking a sentence reduction, but this posting appears to be in reference to a different informant who testified publicly, and not plaintiff. See [1] at 54-55.

         Plaintiff contends that employees in the Stateville mailroom and an unnamed “security specialist” read the letter and card, and shared the contents with others. He further alleges that “whether deliberately or not” the letter and card were delivered to the wrong cell and read by two “unknown inmates, ” who returned the correspondence to the gallery officer. [1] at ¶ 23. The gallery officer then placed in on a desk in the front of plaintiff's cell while plaintiff was in the shower area. On at least two occasions, plaintiff was told by correctional officers that he had “done the right thing.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he contacted Gruber to follow up with him about the promises the state had made and to notify him that someone had violated the gag order. According to plaintiff, at a November 6, 2012, status hearing, he “implored” Gruber to file something with the court concerning the violation of the gag order and the state's failure to follow through on its promises, but he did not do so.

         According to plaintiff, he met with Hanley at the prison on two occasions in November and December 2012, and Hanley told him that prison officials had agreed to reduce his security classification and get him transferred to Dixon Correctional Center when space became available. Hanley also told him that he would speak with the State's Attorney's Office, but there had been a shake-up due to elections. [1] at ¶ 28.

         Plaintiff also told Hanley that someone must have violated the gag order, placing his life at risk, and Hanley said he would look into it. Plaintiff's security classification ultimately was reduced, but according to plaintiff nothing was done regarding his complaint that the gag order had been violated.

         By December 2012, according to plaintiff, gang members were confronting him due to rumors that he had cooperated with police. Around this time, Assistant Deputy Director Gomez and Warden Hardy stopped plaintiff as he was in the lunch line and told him he would be receiving a new identification card reflecting his reduced classification due to cooperation with police and the DeKalb County ...

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