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Simmons v. Yoder

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

July 18, 2017


          ORDER & OPINION

          JOE BILLY McDADE United States Senior District Judge.

         The Matter before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, his Complaint (Doc. 1) must be screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Because Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) is dismissed.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff attempts to bring this Complaint against Defendants for a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1 at 1).[1] He details two specific allegations.

         First, he alleges that Defendant White, Illinois's Secretary of State, implemented a policy or custom that suspended Plaintiff's Illinois driver's license, despite Plaintiff never applying for one. (Doc. 1 at 2). More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on or about November of 1987 or 1988, Secretary White suspended his Illinois driver's license and that he was subsequently charged with auto theft, attempting to elude a peace officer, and driving 11-14 miles per hour above the speed limit. (Doc. 1 at 4). Plaintiff was found guilty of a least one of those charges. (Doc. 1 at 4). Plaintiff also alleges that “[Secretary] White suspended my Illinois driving license by taking my [social security number], date of birth, and name to a driving license number and then suspending it. I Myron Simmons has [sic] never had an Illinois license. At the time of . . . all those tickets, I had an Ohio driving license.” (Doc. 1 at 5). Plaintiff claims that as a result of the Secretary's conduct, Plaintiff was arrested multiple times for driving with a suspended license and that he lost multiple cars in the state of Illinois. (Doc. 1 at 5).

         Second, he alleges that Defendant Yoder, a McLean County judge, refused to allow his witness to be called at trial for driving with a revoked license. (Doc. 1 at 2). This trial resulted in a finding of guilt. (Doc. 1 at 7). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that “[Judge Yoder's] statement to me was that he was not allowing no states attorney, public defender, or a state police [officer] from another county to testify in his court.” (Doc. 1 at 8).

         II. Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis

         The Court grants Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). A court may allow a civil suit to proceed without the prepayment of fees when a plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all their assets, and shows that they are unable to pay filing fees or provide security for the payment of a filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The affidavit must “state the nature of the action . . . and affiant's belief that the person is entitled to redress.” Id. However, the “privilege to proceed without [paying] costs and fees is reserved to the many truly impoverished litigants who, within a district court's discretion, would remain without legal remedy if such privileges were not afforded to them.” Brewster v. North Am. Van Lines, Inc., 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th Cir. 1972).

         In support of his Motion, Plaintiff states under penalty of perjury that his monthly income is approximately $784.00 in wages and $357.00 in food stamps.[2](Doc. 2 at 2). Plaintiff also states that he has approximately $835.29 in monthly expenses. (Doc. 2 at 4-5). Additionally, Plaintiff has a 7 year old daughter for whom he cares. (Doc. 2 at 5). Therefore, based on Plaintiff's submission, the Court concludes that he is entitled to proceed in forma pauperis.

         II. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 Screening

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court must screen complaints proceeding in forma pauperis. The Court must then dismiss a complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff's claim against Secretary White is untimely. Plaintiff's claim against Judge Yoder is barred by the Heck doctrine. Additionally, Judge Yoder has absolute immunity against money damages for decisions he made during Plaintiff's criminal proceedings. Therefore, Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         When evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has stated a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B) de novo, courts use the same standards as that which apply to Rule 12(b)(6) dismissals. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). Therefore, the court will take “all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and view[] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. (citing Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011). A plaintiff need only give “‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Furthermore, a pro se complaint is to be construed liberally and held to “less stringent standards than a formal pleadings by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         However, a pro se plaintiff is not excused from meeting the basic pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 2008). A plaintiff must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a claim that is plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); “plausible on its face” is otherwise stated as “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014). A pleading that simply offers “labels and conclusions, ” a “formulaic recitation of the elements, ” or “naked assertions devoid of factual enhancement” is insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Furthermore, even pro se plaintiffs must identify a plausible right to relief in order to satisfy the pleading requirements. Killebrew v. St. Vincent Health, Inc., 295 F. App'x 808, 810 (7th Cir. 2008). A dismissal of a complaint is appropriate when “‘the factual detail . . . is so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8.'” Srivastava v. Daniels, 409 F. App'x 953, 955 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chi., 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007)). Additionally, a district court should not assume the role of an advocate for the pro se litigant and cannot rewrite a petition to include claims that were not presented. United States v. Buddhi, Nos. 2:06-CR-63, 2:13-CV-128, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68145, at *7 (N.D. Ind. May 19, 2014) (citation omitted); see also Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 F. App'x 506, 510 (6th Cir. 2011) (“We decline ...

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