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Fox v. O'Gara & Gomric PC

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 21, 2016

COREY L. FOX, Plaintiff,
v.
O'GARA & GOMRIC PC, JOHN J. O'GARA, JR., and JAMES A. GOMRIC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Michael J. Reagan United States District Court.

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief from the defendants, who were Plaintiff's court-appointed counsel in his underlying criminal case. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2, 10). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         An 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, 590 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, some 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, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Service, 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         The Complaint focuses on the actions of Plaintiff's appointed counsel for his underlying criminal case, in which Plaintiff entered a plea of guilty in December 2001. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that his appointed counsel, O'Gara and Gomric, committed legal malpractice, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, and violated the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct in their representation of Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). They allegedly coerced him to plead guilty, though they were “in possession of numerous pieces of exculpatory evidence.” (Doc. 1, p. 8). They also failed to secure him a mental health evaluation, though one had been approved by the court, and they were aware of Plaintiff's severe mental impairment. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the deficiencies in the defendants' representation of him during his criminal proceedings in 2001, he unwillingly and involuntarily pled guilty and thereafter was falsely imprisoned, cruelly and unusually punished, and suffered deterioration to his mental health. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff admits in his Complaint that the defendants are not state employees. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to consider Plaintiff's pro se action as a single count. The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of this count does not constitute an opinion as to its merit.

COUNT 1 - Defendants committed legal malpractice, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, and committed violations of the Illinois Code of Professional Conduct in their inadequate representation of Plaintiff as his criminal counsel in 2001, and thereafter until 2005, ...

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