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Kitterman v. Newton

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 25, 2017

SHANE A. KITTERMAN, #B80577, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Shane Kitterman, an inmate in Shawnee Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants violated his due process rights and conspired together to require him to register as a sex offender in contravention with his plea agreement so as to deprive him of his liberty when he failed to do so. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from 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 any reasonable person would find meritless. 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds that this case is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations[1]:

         A. Denial of Due Process - Procedural and Substantive

         On January 10, 1996, Plaintiff entered into a fully negotiated plea agreement in St. Clair County Case No. 95-cf-750 with Steve Sallerson and Robert Haida of the St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office. (Doc. 1, p. 5). The terms of the agreement included that Plaintiff would “abandon his right to certain constitutional protections” in exchange for a reduction in his charged offense and a duty to comply with the Child Sex Offender Registration Act, 730 ILCS 150/1 (West 1994), “with its least restrictive requirements and penalties, as opposed to the current ‘1996' version” of the Act “with stricter reporting requirements and elevated penalties.” (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). The agreement further included that the Plaintiff would be certified a “‘Child Sex Offender' pursuant to the ‘1994' version of the Act” and “regardless of the duration imposed under Section 7 of the Act . . . [Plaintiff] would receive a sentence of ‘Four Years Probation' . . . [and] would only be subject to register as a sex offender as directed by the probation officer for the term of probation at the end of which the duty would cease to exist.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). These terms were memorialized in a court order attached to the Complaint as Exhibit 3 and a court decree outlining the “Conditions of Intensive Probation Supervision” attached as Exhibit 4. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         “In the proceedings leading up to the point of the consummation of the plea deal, the Plaintiff made it clear and the state understood that the Plaintiff would only abandon his rights if the duty to register ended with the term of probation.” Id. The terms of the agreement were forwarded to the Department of State Police. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The offense in 95-cf-750 is the only offense for which Plaintiff has been convicted that would require him to register as a sex offender. Id. On March 6, 1997, Plaintiff's term of probation ended. Id. Plaintiff's duty to register as a sex offender thereby also ended. Id. Defendants Newton and Schmitz, or their predecessors, failed to remove Plaintiff from the state registry. (Doc. 1, p. 9). This was concealed until March 1998 when Plaintiff discovered that his name was still on the state's registry. Id. When he made this discovery, he responded to the local law enforcement agency, which reviewed Plaintiff's records and determined that he was not required to register, though he was still listed on the registry. Id. Between March 1998 and March 2005, Plaintiff had no obligation to register in Illinois. Id. During this time, Plaintiff did not receive “a non-forwardable verification letter that the Department of State Police must send to each sex offender required to register, notifying him of the continuing duty to register. See 730 ILCS 150/4-10 (West 1996).” (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         “In a self-serving document drafted by Defendant Newton, memorializing the Plaintiff's history of registration, in response to a request by the Attorney General, Defendant Newton demonstrates that within a ‘10 year' period following release on probation, the Plaintiff's duty to register was not lawfully extended, the Plaintiff never received any notice of an alleged extension, and no verification letter was sent to Plaintiff.” (Doc. 1, p. 11). On or about March of 2005, Plaintiff “was arrested and falsely imprisoned after a Deputy Sheriff discovered Defendant Newton failed to remove his name from the State registry and the LEADS (Law Enforcement Agency Data System) computer system.” Id. Plaintiff contacted the Department of State Police when he was imprisoned and believed that he would be released immediately. Id.

         “After several months and numerous petitions for relief submitted to the Department, the State, and the Court promised not to extend the period of registration for a conviction in St. Clair County Case No. 05-cf-376, due to the policy of the State Police Defendants to deny request[s] for relief, no hearing was provided for the Plaintiff.” Id. Plaintiff was under “legal duress and legal disability from the continued obligation to register and threats of and several actual arrests and imprisonments without any available remedy” even while “[t]he law and administrative rules created a liberty interest and a duty upon defendant Newton and Schmitz.” (Doc. 1, p. 12). “At trial following arrest for an alleged violation of the duty to register, the trial court refused to hear evidence or a defense to challenge the legitimacy of the requirement to register.” Id.

         Plaintiff experienced “arrest, loss of employment, loss of intimate relations with [his] wife and child, [and] physical and mental anguish” as a result of Defendants Newton and Schmitz refusing to provide Plaintiff with a hearing and an opportunity to be heard. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff had a mental breakdown and required psychological medication and counseling. Id. He responded to the Belleville Police Department, where his first registration was conducted, and it “declared in ‘1998' that its records memorialized the terms of the negotiated plea and as such no further registration was required.” Id. “To [Plaintiff's] utter shock and horror, the agency declared that Defendant Newton and the State Attorney instructed that every registration after the March arrest was to include a conviction not for the ...

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