United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
proceeding pro se from his incarceration in Dixon
Correctional Center, alleges that Defendants, officers of the
Sangamon County Sheriff's Department, violated
Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights by entering and
searching his home without his consent and by arresting him
without probable cause.
summary judgment motion is before the Court.At the summary
judgment stage, the evidence is viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmovant, with material factual disputes
resolved in the nonmovant's favor. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine
dispute of material fact exists when a reasonable juror could
find for the nonmovant. Id.
parties agree that Defendant Knowski, a Lieutenant with the
Sangamon County Sheriff's Office, and Defendant Womack, a
Deputy, came to the door of Plaintiff's home in the early
morning hours of February 18, 2015. Lieutenant Knowski and
Deputy Womack entered the home, retrieved a jacket and shoes,
and arrested Plaintiff for criminal damage to property,
resisting/obstructing a police officer, and stealing a leaf
blower and a girl's bicycle.
maintain that they tracked Plaintiff from the site of a
reported burglary to Plaintiff's home. Defendants also
maintain that Plaintiff consented to Defendants' entering
the home and that evidence incriminating Plaintiff was found
in plain sight. Plaintiff, in contrast, contends that he had
been home sleeping all night and was awakened by Defendants
banging on the door, threatening to break the door down and
send their dog in if Plaintiff did not open the door.
Plaintiff maintains that he either did not give consent for
Defendants to enter the home or was coerced into doing so.
Plaintiff also contends that he did not give consent for the
September 25, 2015, in a negotiated plea, Plaintiff plead
guilty to attempted burglary, admitting that he:
[w]ith the intent to commit the offense of burglary performed
a substantial step toward the commission of the offense, in
that he knowingly and without authority attempted to enter a
building of Daniel Downey, with the intent to commit therein
Attorney Statement, d/e 36-3, p. 4.) The other charges
against Plaintiff were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
argue that Plaintiff's guilty plea bars Plaintiff's
claims in this case because Plaintiff had an opportunity to
litigate the constitutionality of the search and seizure when
Plaintiff filed a motion to suppress in his criminal
proceedings. That argument would be correct if
Plaintiff's motion to suppress had been denied on the
merits, but the motion to suppress was never ruled on due to
the negotiated plea.
the facts which formed the basis of Plaintiff's guilty
plea do not bar him from pursuing his claims. Plaintiff could
succeed on his claims for illegal entry, search, and seizure
without impugning the validity of his conviction for
attempted burglary. In Simpson v. Rowan, 73 F.3d 134
(7th Cir. 1995), the Seventh Circuit held that
Fourth Amendment claims for false arrest and an illegal
search of the plaintiff's apartment could proceed despite
Plaintiff's murder conviction, a conviction based in part
on evidence found during the purportedly illegal search. The
Seventh Circuit reasoned that the Fourth Amendment claims did
not necessarily challenge the validity of the conviction
because “an illegal search or arrest may be followed by
a valid conviction . . . .” 73 F.3d at 136; see
also Rollins v. Willett, 770 F.3d 575 (7th
Cir. 2014)(pleading guilty on driving violations did not bar
claim for unreasonable seizure: “A finding that the
defendant was illegally seized-the finding he seeks in this
suit-would therefore have no relevance to the validity of his
guilty plea and ensuing conviction.”); Copus v.
City of Edgerton, 151 F.3d 646, 649 (7th Cir.
1998)(“The point is that it is possible for an
individual to be properly convicted though he is unlawfully
arrested, or his home unlawfully searched. The remedy for
those constitutional violations is a civil action under
§ 1983 for money damages, . . . .”) The claims in
Simpson were ultimately dismissed because the
plaintiff had lost a motion to suppress in his criminal
proceedings regarding the same claims of unreasonable search
and seizure. Simpson v. Rowan, 125 Fed.Appx. 720
(7th Cir. 2005)(not published in Federal
Reporter). However, as discussed above, no ruling was made on
Plaintiff's motion to suppress. Like the claims in
Simpson, Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims in
this case do not necessarily undermine the facts underlying
also argue that Plaintiff consented to the search because
Plaintiff opened the door voluntarily and allowed Defendants
to enter. But whether Plaintiff consented to Defendants'
entry, and, if so, whether that consent was coerced or
included a consent to the search, are disputed material
facts. Consent must be voluntary, not the product of coercion
or duress. Valance v. Wisel, 110 F.3d 1269 (7th Cir.
1997). According to Plaintiff, the officers announced through
the closed door, “Open the door, we know you in there,
we going to kick it down, we going to send the dog in.”
(Pl.'s Dep. 9.) Even if Plaintiff did voluntarily consent
to Defendants' entry, Plaintiff did not voluntarily
consent to the search of the apartment, according to
Plaintiff. Plaintiff maintains that he opened the door,
whereupon the officers entered and began searching the
apartment while Plaintiff “was grabbing them by the
arms and asking them what they was doing, they need to
explain themselves, what do you all want.” (Pl.'s
Dep. 12-13.) Plaintiff “was telling them you all
ain't got no business in the house, you don't have no
search warrant to be in this home, man, what's up, what
you all want.” (Pl.'s Dep. 11.) On this record,
whether Plaintiff consented to the entry and search are
disputed questions of fact.
argue that the terms of Plaintiff's mandatory supervised
release agreement with the Illinois Department of Corrections
required him to consent to the search of his residence.
Paragraph ten of that agreement states, “[y]ou shall
consent to a search of your person, property, or residence
under your control; including computer(s), peripherals and
any and all media.” (Mandatory Supervised Release
Agreement para. 10, d/e 36-3.) Plaintiff was bound by this
agreement on the date of the search.
is legal support for Defendants' argument. In Samson
v. California, 547 U.S. 843 (2006), the Supreme Court
upheld a suspicionless search of a parolee which resulted in
the plaintiff's drug conviction. Relying on
Samson, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a
warrantless, unconsented search of a parolee's home based
on an anonymous tip that the defendant was violating his
parole. People v. Wilson, 228 Ill.2d 35 (2008). The
Illinois Supreme Court stated in Wilson that the
release agreement, which contained a search provision
identical to the provision in Plaintiff's release
agreement, “reduced his expectation of privacy in his
residence to a level that society would not recognize as
legitimate.” See also People v. Absher, 242
Ill.2d 77 (2011)(probationer's agreement to suspicionless
search amounted to prospective consent and a waiver of
probationer's Fourth Amendment rights); U.S. v.
Barnett, 415 F.3d 690 (7th Cir.
2005)(upholding Illinois probationer's blanket waiver of
Fourth Amendment rights in release agreement to “submit
to searches of [his] person, residence . . . at any time such
requests are made by the Probation Officer . . .) State law
informs a federal court's Fourth Amendment inquiry into
an individual's legitimate expectations of privacy.
U.S. v. White, 781 F.3d 858, 861 (7th
Cir. 2015)(warrantless search of Illinois parolee's bag
reasonable where release agreement required parolee to
consent to search).
Plaintiff makes the point that Defendants did not know about
Plaintiff's status as a parolee or the supervised release
agreement. He argues that Defendants could not have based
their entry and search on facts unknown to them. There is
legal support for Plaintiff's argument, too. In
Samson, the Supreme Court observed that,
“[u]nder California precedent, we note, an officer
would not act reasonably in conducting a suspicionless search
absent knowledge that the person stopped for the search is a
parolee.” 547 U.S. 843 n. 5 of majority
opinion; see also U.S. v. Williams, 702
F.Supp.2d 1021 (N.D. ...