United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MICHAEL L. SPARKS, Plaintiff,
CHARLES ROMANI, KYLE NAPP, DON WEBER, and MADISON COUNTY ILLINOIS OFFICIALS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
Michael Sparks, an inmate in Hill Correctional Center, brings
this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional
rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint,
Plaintiff claims his procedural and substantive due process
rights were violated during the course of his criminal trial
and subsequent challenges to his conviction. (Doc. 1). 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
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). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable
person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209
F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of
entitlement to relief must cross “the line between
possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At
this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits,
the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority
under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary
Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following
allegations: Plaintiff was forced to wear a stun belt during
his criminal trial proceedings. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff
also was not allowed to use an expert witness during his
criminal trial. Id. For the trial, the prosecutor
utilized witness testimony in which the witness perjured
himself to implicate Plaintiff in the crimes alleged.
Id. For these reasons, according to the Complaint,
“[t]he trial was infected and the [guilty] verdict from
the jury cannot stand.” Id.
both appealed and filed a post-conviction petition to
challenge the verdict. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). The appeal was
denied. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Further, though the criminal trial
judge, Judge Charles Romani, recused himself after the court
of appeals remanded Plaintiff's post-conviction petition,
Judge Kyle Napp ultimately dismissed the post-conviction
petition. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff then filed a habeas
corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 citing the same
issues he cites in this action. See Sparks v.
Butler, No. 14-cv-1044 (S.D. Ill. March 22, 2016). His
habeas action is currently pending. Id.
outset, this Court must independently evaluate the substance
of Plaintiff's claims to determine if the correct
statute-in this case 42 U.S.C. § 1983-is being invoked.
Godoski v. United States, 304 F.3d 761, 763 (7th
Cir. 2002) (court must evaluate independently the substance
of the claim being brought, to see if correct statute is
being invoked); Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475,
500 (1973) (dismissing § 1983 claims that should have
been brought as petitions for writ of habeas corpus). A
petition for a writ of habeas corpus is the proper route
“[i]f the prisoner is seeking what can fairly be
described as a quantum change in the level of custody-whether
outright freedom, or freedom subject to the limited reporting
and financial constraints of bond or parole or
probation.” Graham v. Broglin, 922 F.2d 379,
381 (7th Cir. 1991). A civil rights complaint brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is proper if the prisoner
“is challenging the conditions rather than the fact of
confinement.” Graham, 922 F.2d at 381; see
also Pischke v. Litscher, 178 F.3d 497, 500 (7th Cir.
request for relief, Plaintiff specifically seeks an
injunction ordering defendants to “release the
Plaintiff from imprisonment” and “immediately
arrange the return of the plaintiff back to where he was
before the illegal acts of defendants, returning the
commodity of liberty to the plaintiff.” (Doc. 1, p.
14). Such a request does not belong in an action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. It appears Plaintiff is aware of this
fact, as he is party to an ongoing habeas corpus case under
28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Sparks v. Butler, No.
14-cv-1044 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 22, 2016). In his habeas
proceeding, Plaintiff makes the same allegations of
impropriety involving the use of a stun belt ...