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Johnson v. Schuyler County

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

January 20, 2017

TERRY C. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW AND CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

          HAROLD A. BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Order The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, a civil detainee at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility (“Rushville”) is requesting leave to proceed under a reduced payment procedure for indigent plaintiffs who are institutionalized but are not prisoners as defined in 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(h).

         The “privilege to proceed without posting security for costs and fees is reserved to the many truly impoverished litigants who, within the District Court's sound discretion, would remain without legal remedy if such privilege were not afforded to them.” Brewster v. North Am. Van Lines, Inc., 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th Circ. 1972). Additionally, a court must dismiss cases proceeding in forma pauperis “at any time” if the action is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim, even if part of the filing fee has been paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)(2). Accordingly, this court grants leave to proceed in forma pauperis only if the complaint states a federal action.

         In reviewing the complaint, the court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7thCir. 2013). The court has reviewed the complaint and has also held a merit review hearing in order to give the plaintiff a chance to personally explain his claims to the Court.

         The plaintiff filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Defendants Mayes, Wear, and Rose lured him to the Security Director's office under false pretenses for purposes of attacking the plaintiff, who was being investigated for a crime. While leaving the office, plaintiff alleges that Defendant Clayton kicked and then tripped him. The defendants who were present at the time did nothing to prevent this alleged attack. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Clayton attacked him because plaintiff exercised his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Plaintiff was later transported to the Schuyler County Jail wearing only a jumpsuit and shower shoes in temperatures plaintiff alleges were “bitterly cold, ” while Defendants Rose and Wear drove the transport van at “very slow speeds” and refused to turn on the heat inside the vehicle. Plaintiff alleges these defendants laughed at his “severe discomfort.”

         Plaintiff alleges that he was initially housed in a holding cell at the Schuyler County Jail (“jail”) for approximately eight (8) hours “for no apparent reason other than [plaintiff] being African American.” Plaintiff alleges Caucasian inmates were offered a medical examination, phone call, and showers while he was not as a result of his race. Plaintiff alleges he was not present in person for his probable cause hearing (held approximately one day after his arrival at the jail) and that Defendant Clayton falsely represented to the judge that he (Clayton) was a deputy sheriff. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Clayton intentionally destroyed video evidence in his criminal case, and that the prosecuting attorney did not conduct a sufficient investigation into his case. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Redshaw and Anna Marie Schieferdecker responded to his FOIA request.

         Plaintiff states claims against two distinct sets of defendants. First, plaintiff states a claim for excessive force and retaliation against Defendant Clayton, and a failure to intervene claim against Defendants Rose, Wear, Mayes and Winters. Plaintiff also states a conditions-of-confinement claim against Defendants Wear and Rose for the alleged exposure to cold temperatures without adequate clothing. Plaintiff does not allege that Defendants Scott, Kunkel, Clark, and Hernanez personally participated in these events, and, therefore, they will be dismissed. See Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991 (7th Cir. 1996) (“[L]iability does not attach unless the individual defendant caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation.”).

         Next, plaintiff states an arguable equal protection claim for the alleged dissimilar treatment on the basis of his race against officials at the Schuyler County Jail. This claim, however, is against non-TDF defendants and should be brought in a separate lawsuit. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits . . .”).

         As for plaintiff's claims that he was not provided with a probable cause hearing within 48 hours, he does not state a claim. Plaintiff received a hearing within one day after being informed of the charges and transported to the jail. Defendant Hooker, the judge, and Defendant Escapa, the State's Attorney, have absolute immunity from suit. See Lewis v. Mills, 677 F.3d 324, 330 (7th Cir. 2012) (“Prosecutors are entitled to absolute immunity when they are performing functions-such as determining whether charges should be brought and initiating a prosecution-‘intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process.'” (quoting Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 270 (1993)); Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 838 (7th Cir. 2011) (“A judge has absolute immunity for any judicial actions….”).

         Plaintiff is a civil detainee at Rushville and, therefore, his constitutional rights are derived from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g., Kingsley v. Hendrickson, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2475 (2015); Budd v. Motley 711 F.3d 840, 842 (7th Cir. 2013). However, the Seventh Circuit has “found it convenient and entirely appropriate to apply the same standard to claims arising under the Fourteenth Amendment (detainees) and Eight Amendment (convicted prisoners) ‘without differentiation.'” Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005) quoting Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 845 n.2 (7th Cir. 1999).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

         1. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds that the plaintiff states Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims for (1) excessive force and retaliation against Defendant Clayton; (2) failure to intervene against Defendants Rose, Wear, Mayes and Winters; and (3) conditions of confinement against Defendants Wear and Rose. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the defendants before filing any motions, in order to give the defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. The plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the Court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

         3. The Court will attempt service on the defendants by mailing each defendant a waiver of service. The defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an answer. If the defendants have not filed answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, the plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After the ...


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