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Carter v. Cook County Department of Corrections

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 12, 2017

CORRIE TRAVAIL CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
COOK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          MILTON I. SHADUR SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Throughout its tenure of something over 3-1/2 decades as a District Judge, this Court has always sought to be mindful of and attentive to the difficulties faced by nonlawyers in attempting to cope with the problem of self-representation in federal litigation. That has particularly been the case in treating with actions brought by pro se prisoner plaintiffs, beginning long before the current situation in which a substantial number of staff attorneys have taken on the responsibility for assisting such litigants. In consequence this Court is confident that it has consistently designated counsel to act for such plaintiffs in a substantially higher percentage of cases than its colleagues.

         Regrettably those efforts have sometimes met with less than total success, particularly where a pro se plaintiff has had a history involving multiple earlier lawsuits. That is the case with plaintiff Corrie Travail Carter ("Carter"), as to whom two attachments -- the motion to withdraw filed by the attorney designated as his counsel in this action (Ex. 1, Dkt. No. 38) and an attached memorandum from one of the staff attorneys (Ex. 2) reflect. Now Carter has tendered a hand-printed statement dated March 15 and received in the Clerk's Office on April 7, accompanied by a group of photocopies of Inmate Grievance Forms that he submitted over the space of more than a year relating to the claim at issue in this action (Dkt. No. 47 comprises those papers).

         What that most recent submission reveals is that despite Carter's numerous grievances and the lack of resolution of his claim of being deprived of the opportunity to participate in Muslim religious services, it was not until February 2 of this year that Carter took the step of taking an appeal -- a step that is necessary to satisfy the 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) requirement of exhaustion of administrative remedies that is a precondition to filing a lawsuit. According to that appeal form, the designated administrator at the County Jail responded by stating:

         This is forwarded to Religious Services for review and/or action if warranted. That response was followed by the attached February 22 response from the Religious Services Department (Ex. 3).

         This Court is transmitting a copy of this memorandum order to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, which is ordered to file an appropriate response updating the posture of Carter's appeal following the Ex. 3 response. That should be done promptly, because this action is currently set for a next status hearing at 8:45 a.m. May 8, 2017.

         MOTION TO WITHDRAW

         Now comes ROBERT M. KNABE, licensed to practice before this Court and files this Motion to Withdraw as attorney for Plaintiff Corrie Travail Carter in this cause, and as reasons for this motion states as follows:

         1. On November 21, 2016, Robert M, Knabe was appointed by the Honorable Milton I, Shadur to represent Plaintiff, Corrie Travail Carter.

         2, Since that time Knabe has reviewed the file, reviewed the applicable law, communicated with James Chapman, the attorney for the Defendants, and communicated with the Plaintiff via the U.S. Mai! and telephone.

         3. After the recent status in this cause, Knabe has had discussions with James Nichols, attorney for Defendants as to a resolution of this matter, 4, On January 17, 2017, Knabe had a telephone conference with Carter. During the telephone conference Knabe relayed the discussion he had with Defendant's attorneys and the possibility that the matter could be resolved.

         5. During that telephone conference it became apparent that Plaintiff was no! interested in the settlement and questioned Knabe's judgment and competence, Plaintiff Sold Knabe that he would not take his opinion on the law.

         6. The telephone conference ended with Carter telling Knabe that he no longer wants Knabe to represent his interests in this matter and he hung up the phone.

         7, As a result of this exchange it is readily apparent that Knabe can no longer represent the Plaintiff in this matter, 8, That a notice of hearing on this motion has been served on the Plaintiff ...


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