United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CORBIN D. JONES, # 01-30-1989-46, Plaintiff,
NEILL MOONEY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
currently incarcerated at the Jefferson County Justice Center
(“the Jail”), has brought this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff claims that the Mt. Vernon Police Officer who
arrested him violated several of his constitutional rights.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A .
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion
of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks
for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
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 “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
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. Conversely, a
complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to
accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v.
Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual
allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail
to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim.
Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009).
Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate
abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or
conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same
time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint
are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v.
Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011);
Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816,
821 (7th Cir. 2009).
fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's
Complaint, the Court concludes that some of Plaintiff's
claims are subject to dismissal pursuant to § 1915A, and
others must be stayed until the State criminal matter is
Complaint is made up of several piecemeal sections. Plaintiff
begins with the 1-page police report authored by Mooney,
describing the events leading up to Mooney's arrest of
Plaintiff on February 14, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff
marked up this document and made several notations in the
margins indicating possible claims, including “illegal
search and seizure, ” “officer without warrant
forced entry into my upstairs bedroom, ” “freedom
of speech, ” and indicates several of Mooney's
statements were “false.” Id. His next
page consists of the “Supplemental Report” of
Officer Greenwood, who was also present at Plaintiff's
arrest. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff also includes a copy of a
photograph of an alleged controlled substance found in his
room on February 14, 2017, with his own annotations claiming
that the material is not meth, but is in fact sea-salt. (Doc.
1, p. 6). On this paper, Plaintiff also wrote, “false
report, ” “destroying evidence improperly,
” “false allegations, ” “tampering
with evidence, ” “cruel and unusual punishments,
” and “failure to read me my Miranda rights
before or after arrest.” Id. The Complaint
concludes with a 4-page narrative including factual
allegations and some claims against Mooney. (Doc. 1, pp.
following factual summary can be gleaned from these
statements: Mooney and other officers were called to
Plaintiff's mother's residence, where Plaintiff
occupied an upstairs bedroom. (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 8, 10).
Plaintiff was on probation at the time. (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 9).
Mooney was “escorted into the residence, ”
presumably by Plaintiff's mother, and encountered
Plaintiff on the stairs leading to his bedroom. (Doc. 1, pp.
3, 8). The officers asked Plaintiff to leave the house for
the evening, in accordance with his mother's request.
(Doc. 1, pp. 3). Plaintiff agreed to leave. Either Mooney or
Officer Greenwood supervised Plaintiff in his bedroom while
he gathered his belongings. (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 7). Greenwood and
Mooney saw small crumbs of cannabis on a table in the bedroom
(Plaintiff disputes which officer saw the cannabis first).
(Doc. 1, pp. 3, 7).
to Mooney, Greenwood asked Plaintiff where the rest of the
cannabis was, and Plaintiff took a metal pipe out of his
pocket. Greenwood also found a small black plastic bag
containing small crystal-like rocks. (Doc. 1, p. 3).
Plaintiff was arrested and searched, and officers found a
rolled cigarette containing cannabis. (Doc. 1, p. 3).
Plaintiff claims the statement about finding the cannabis
cigarette is untrue, and notes the item was not photographed
and was either destroyed or kept by Greenwood. (Doc. 1, p.
7). He also asserts that the “so- called
crack-cocaine/meth is sea-salt” that was in a small
bottle with a twist-top grinder, and that the substance was
never tested for drug content. Id. Some item that
would have been materially exculpatory evidence (Plaintiff
does not specify which item) was destroyed by Greenwood.
(Doc. 1, pp. 7-9).
further asserts that he was not told his Miranda
rights either before or after his arrest; Mooney forced his
way into Plaintiff's bedroom and searched it without a
warrant; Mooney's police report is false; and Plaintiff
was wrongfully arrested and is being falsely imprisoned.
(Doc. 1, p. 8). He claims that his former attorney
(Featherson) is now a State's Attorney who has made
statements against him, and this presents a conflict of
interest. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He makes reference to freedom of
speech, and claims he “received cruel and unusual
punishments” on February 14, 2017, in his home;
excessive bail was imposed; and was subjected to
“excessive force from Officer C. Greenwood.”
(Doc. 1, p. 10).
seeks money for pain and suffering and asks for his freedom,
but closes with the notation, “mainly money.”
(Doc. 1, p. 11).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into
the following counts. The parties and the Court will use
these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as
to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the
Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 1: Mooney violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment
rights by forcing his way into Plaintiff's room to
conduct a search ...