United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JACK L. FIRKINS, # B-86948, Plaintiff,
GREGORY NESTER, and ROBERT HAIDA, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge.
filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 while he was incarcerated at the St. Clair
County Jail. He has since been transferred to Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”). (Doc. 11). In
this action, Plaintiff sues his public defender and trial
judge, claiming that his speedy trial rights were violated
while his criminal charges were pending. 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 this action is subject to
time Plaintiff filed the action on April 7, 2017, he had been
in custody at the St. Clair County Jail since June 1, 2016.
(Doc. 1, p. 3). He was awaiting trial on St. Clair County
Cases No. 16-CF-74901, 02, and 03, and No. 16-CF-72301 and
02. Id. He had filed a pro se motion for
speedy trial on June 1, 2016. However, Nester
(Plaintiff's public defender) and Haida (St. Clair County
Chief Judge) tolled his speedy trial time without
Plaintiff's consent or approval. His trial date was
postponed 3 times, cancelling trial dates set for November
28, 2017 (the Court presumes Plaintiff meant to say November
2016), January 23, 2017, and March 27, 2017. Plaintiff also
filed a motion to dismiss his case, but Haida refused to
claims that the delay in bringing him to trial violated his
“6th Amendment right to a 120-day fast and
speedy trial, ” and violated his 14th
Amendment due process rights. Id. He seeks
compensatory damages for the violation of his rights.
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: Public Defender Nester violated
Plaintiff's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial
and/or his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights;
Count 2: Judge Haida violated
Plaintiff's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial
and/or his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.
Each of the above claims is subject to dismissal pursuant to
Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial is not automatically
violated if the trial is postponed beyond 120 days. The
120-day time limit is imposed by Illinois law, at 725 ILCS
5/103-5(a), and is independent of the federal constitutional
speedy trial right. A federal court does not enforce state
laws such as this. Archie v. City of Racine, 847
F.2d 1211, 1217 (7th Cir. 1988) (en banc), cert.
denied,489 U.S. 1065 (1989); Pasiewicz v. Lake
Cnty. Forest Preserve Dist., 270 F.3d 520, 526 (7th Cir.
2001). Instead, a Sixth Amendment speedy trial claim is
analyzed by balancing four factors: “whether delay
before trial was uncommonly long, whether the government or
the criminal defendant is more to blame for that delay,
whether, in due course, the defendant asserted his right to ...