United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
TELLY C. YOUNG, et al., Plaintiffs,
MACON COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY JAY SCOTT AND JUDGE JEFFREY GEISLER, Defendants.
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
filed this case pro se from their detention in the Macon
County Jail. Their amended complaint is before the Court for
a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A. This statute requires the Court to review
a complaint filed by a prisoner or detainee to identify the
cognizable claims and to dismiss part or all of the complaint
if no claim is stated, or if the action “seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2).
reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual
allegations as true, liberally construing them in
Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d
645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory
statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be
provided to "'state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S.,
721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite
allege that Macon County State's Attorney Jay Scott and
Judge Giesler, a Macon County Associate Judge, collude to
deprive detainees of their constitutional rights by setting
excessive bail for detainees based on the detainees' race
and that the excessive bails cause indigent, uneducated
detainees to plead guilty in order to secure their sooner
release. They also allege that Judge Geisler routinely finds
probable cause for detention when no probable cause exists
and allows State's Attorney Scott to introduce false
evidence in the probable cause hearings. Further, Plaintiffs
allege that Defendants conspire to allow detainees with
connections to the Sheriff or the Sheriff's employees to
be released on reduced bonds. Plaintiffs each ask for $100,
000 in compensatory damages, $5, 000 in punitive damages, and
for both Defendants to “be reported to Bar
association.” Plaintiffs give no specifics as to their
own criminal proceedings. They do allege that a plaintiff in
the original complaint, Damarius Wilson,  a black male, had
his bond set at $21, 000, while a white male, Brock McQueen,
had bond set at $20, 000 for a similar offense.
cannot pursue this action for damages because both Defendants
are immune from lawsuits for damages based on their actions
in court. Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431
(1976)("[I]n initiating a prosecution and in presenting
the State's case, the prosecutor is immune from a civil
suit for damages under section 1983."); Polzin v.
Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 838 (7th Cir. 2011)(“A judge
has absolute immunity for any judicial actions unless the
judge acted in the absence of all jurisdiction.”).
Probable cause and bond proceedings in court are clearly
judicial or prosecutorial actions protected by immunity.
See Smith v. Power, 346 F.3d 740 (7th
Cir. 2003)(“absolute immunity shields prosecutors even
if they act ‘maliciously, unreasonably, without
probable cause, or even on the basis of false testimony or
evidence.''')(quoted cite omitted); Ford v.
Sessoms, 2016 WL 126388 (N.D. Ind.)(dismissing on
judicial immunity grounds detainee's claim that excessive
bond was imposed based on detainee's race); Miller v.
Williamson County, 2014 WL 1613308 *4 (S.D.
Ill.)(“Plaintiff cannot maintain a civil rights suit
against the judge who set his allegedly excessive bail,
because judges, being sued solely for judicial acts, are
protected by absolute judicial immunity.”); Shepard
v. Mikulich, 2010 WL 2719107 (N.D.
Ind.)(unpublished)(Judge in individual capacity immune from
lawsuit alleging that she “used racial profiling to
triple his bond”).
Plaintiffs believe they are being held without probable cause
or their bond is too high, Plaintiffs' legal recourse is
to file an appropriate motion in their pending criminal
cases, appeal the decision through the state courts, and
then, possibly file a federal habeas action. See U.S. ex
rel. Garcia v. O'Grady, 812 F.2d 347 (7th Cir.
1987)(example of exhausting state court remedies and then
pursuing an excessive bail claim through federal habeas
Court also notes, in regards to Plaintiffs' claim of
racial profiling, that Damarius Wilson, a black detainee, was
released on a recognizance bond, and therefore did not have
to post bond. 2016cf968 (Macon County)(www.judici.com). In
comparison, Brock McQueen, a white detainee, had to post bond
and then the bond posted was revoked. 2015cf1597 (Macon
County)(www.judici.com). Wilson was sentenced to
probation; McQueen was sentenced to jail time. Id.
No inference of racial discrimination against black detainees
arises from these facts.
motion for leave to file an amended complaint by Plaintiffs
Young, Taylor, Hines, Smith, McQueen, and Douglas is granted
Plaintiff Jerry Harris is dismissed because he did not sign
the amended complaint.
Plaintiff Darius Wilson is dismissed because he did not sign
the amended complaint.
Plaintiffs' amended complaint is dismissed with prejudice
because Defendants are immune from lawsuits for damages based
on Defendants' actions taken in court in Plaintiffs'
criminal proceedings. Any amendment against these Defendants
based on their actions in court would be futile.
following Plaintiffs who signed the amended complaint must
each still pay the full filing fee of $350 even though this
case has been dismissed: Telly Young, Avers Douglas, James
Smith, Jamie Taylor, Jeremy Hines, and Brock McQueen.
Boriboune v. Berge, 391 F.3d 852, 856
(7th Cir. ...