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Courtney v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 30, 2017



          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff James Courtney, previously incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 21, 2016. Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (Doc. 5). Plaintiff was given leave to file a First Amended Complaint, which he did on January 27, 2017. (Doc. 8). In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that the defendants violated his state and federal constitutional rights by incarcerating him beyond the date he was eligible for mandatory supervised release (“MSR”). Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated. Therefore, this Court will conduct a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), which provides:

         Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal -

i. is frivolous or malicious;
ii. fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or iii. seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An 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 Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on October 4, 2013, he was told that he was “violated” and he would not be allowed to leave on MSR. (Doc. 8, p. 8). Plaintiff claims that he immediately wrote to Defendants Godinez, Harrington and Butler, complaining of his illegal incarceration and demanding he be released on MSR. Id. He also wrote grievances to the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) and its affiliates, as well as against Field Services, but he never received a response. (Doc. 8, pp. 8-9). In the grievances against Field Services, Plaintiff stated that he had a parole site and had given them Mrs. Milburn's information. (Doc. 8, p. 9). He also informed them that he had provided the sex offender's halfway house in East St. Louis as another option, or would accept another halfway house of their choice. Id. Plaintiff knew Mrs. Milburn's address was a good parole site because she was 64 or 65 years old, and the closest school and/or daycare to her house was six blocks away. Id.

         Plaintiff also claims that another prisoner, who became eligible for MSR after Plaintiff, was set to be sent to the East St. Louis halfway house for sex offenders, though the inmate was not, himself, a sex offender. Id. Plaintiff wrote to Godinez, Harrington, Butler and Lashbrook to complain about this practice. Id. He allegedly received no response to these complaints. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Plaintiff further alleges that he was discriminated against by each of the defendants and not released on MSR due to his label as a child sex offender. (Doc. 8, p. 11). He maintains that the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) and its employees could have sent him to another halfway house or Mrs. Milburn's house, but they chose not to do so; at the same time, they sent an inmate who was not a sex offender to a parole site for which Plaintiff was eligible. Id. Mrs. Milburn told Plaintiff that she would write out an affidavit stating he could be paroled to her house. Id. Plaintiff does not indicate if she did so. Id.

         On November 14, 2013, Plaintiff had a hearing with the parole board, which operates under the authority of Defendant Christianson. Plaintiff was not provided notice prior to the day of the hearing. Id. A member of the parole board informed Plaintiff that all he had to do was write to field services and give them an address for parole in order to be released. Id. Plaintiff informed them that he had already done so in March or April 2013, but that he would do so again. Id. When Plaintiff returned to his cell, he again wrote to field services, requesting to be paroled at Mrs. Milburn's or the halfway house in East. St. Louis. Id. Plaintiff claims that had he been told in advance about the hearing, he would have contacted Mrs. Milburn to act as a witness for him so that she could testify that Plaintiff could parole at her house. (Doc. 8, p. 12).

         Ford believes that each defendant retaliated against him due to his classification as a child sex offender and retaliated against him for grievances he wrote before and after his MSR date against corrections officers. Id. These grievances concerned corrections officers, IDOC workers, sergeants and lieutenants failing to stop the harassment of sex offenders, including Plaintiff, by other inmates. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was held for an ...

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