United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
LONNIE T. WELLS, Plaintiff,
RALPH FOWLER, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Lonnie T. Wells filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 while he was incarcerated at Taylorville
Correctional Center (“Taylorville”). He has since
been released. (Doc. 7). Plaintiff brings the action against
Ralph Fowler, the Assistant State's Attorney who
successfully prosecuted Plaintiff for conspiracy. (Doc. 1,
pp. 1-6). Plaintiff alleges that Attorney Fowler improperly
used evidence from an overturned child abuse and neglect case
to prove the State's case against Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, pp.
4-6). The Complaint contains no request for relief. (Doc. 1,
matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which
(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
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.
to the allegations set forth in the Complaint, Attorney
Fowler used evidence and information from an overturned child
abuse and neglect case against Dixon Turner to secure a
conviction for conspiracy against Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, pp.
4-6). That evidence included information taken from a prior
Department of Children and Family Services
(“DCFS”) case against Plaintiff that resulted in
no finding of guilt. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff claims that
Attorney Fowler engaged in misconduct in an effort to secure
a conviction against Plaintiff in the criminal conspiracy
case. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-6).
in 2014, the Department of Human Services (“DHS”)
located in Charleston, Illinois, filed a report against Dixon
Turner for child abuse and neglect (Case #2156645A). (Doc. 1,
p. 4). Following a hearing in Coles County, Turner was found
guilty. Id. She filed an appeal in May or June 2014.
Fowler, who serves as the Assistant State's Attorney in
Effingham County, Illinois, attended the hearing on appeal in
Coles County. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). Attorney Fowler allegedly
“helped” Turner with her appeal, by offering
information from a prior case involving Plaintiff that never
resulted in a finding of guilt or a conviction. (Doc. 1, p.
4). The caseworker involved in Plaintiff's underlying
case, Jeanie Parker, was not present and did not testify.
Id. Plaintiff and his mother, who were present at
the hearing, were not allowed to testify. Id. Turner
prevailed on appeal. Id.
Fowler then introduced evidence of Turner's overturned
case in the State's criminal case against Plaintiff for
conspiracy. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Although Plaintiff's criminal
defense attorney subpoenaed Jeannie Parker to testify at
Plaintiff's criminal trial, she was not allowed to do so.
Id. Attorney Fowler's
“‘evidence' against [Plaintiff] was the case
he helped cover up.” Id. At the time of doing
so, Plaintiff insists that he was “out of his
jurisdiction.” Id. Attorney Fowler ...