United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
CHRISTOPHER W. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
PAUL LAWRENCE, et al., Defendants.
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeding pro se from his detention in the Jacksonville
Correctional Center, has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 challenging the prosecution of charges against
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Judge Paul Lawrence of the
McLean County Circuit Court, in criminal case number
15-cf-1442, violated his duty to be impartial by improperly
telling the prosecutor to return to the grand jury for an
amended indictment charging Plaintiff with controlled
substance offenses. Plaintiff also alleges that Officer
Christopher Lempke and Special Agent Thomas Vagasky violated
Plaintiff's due process rights by making false statements
in the police report that the substance field test tested
positive for cocaine. Plaintiff asserts that these false
statements improperly supported the basis for the indictment
and the prosecution against him. Finally, Plaintiff asserts
that Assistant State's Attorneys Jeffrey Horve and Erica
Reynolds maliciously prosecuted Plaintiff and violated
Plaintiff's due process rights by filing an affidavit in
support of an arrest warrant and an information knowing them
to contain false information. Plaintiff asserts that this
false information improperly served as the basis for the
charges against him.
case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. This statute requires the Court to
review a complaint filed by a prisoner to identify the
cognizable claims and to dismiss part or all of the complaint
if no claim is stated.
reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual
allegations as true, liberally construing them in the
plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d
645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and
labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to
“‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Alexander v. United States,
721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013) (quotations omitted).
Complaint is premature. Plaintiff cannot pursue a civil claim
challenging the validity of his conviction until he overturns
his conviction through other legal routes, such as in a
habeas corpus action after exhausting state court appeals.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994)
(“when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983
suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in
favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity
of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint
must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that
the conviction or sentence has already been
invalidated.”). Plaintiffs' allegations are, in
essence, a challenge to his conviction. Plaintiff states in
his Complaint that the direct appeal from his criminal case
is currently pending. As such, his § 1983 claim is
premature at best.
Plaintiff is claiming instead that he was falsely arrested,
that claim would not be barred by Heck, but it would
be barred by the two-year statute of limitations, since
Plaintiff was arrested in December 2015, more than two years
before he filed this case. The Court also notes that Judge
Lawrence and the Assistant State's Attorneys are
absolutely immune from damages liability for actions taken in
the criminal proceedings. Fields v. Wharrie, 740
F.3d 1107, 1110 (7th Cir. 2014) (“Prosecutors, like
judges, enjoy absolutely immunity from federal tort
liability, whether common law or constitutional . . .
1) Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed without prejudice
for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
2) Plaintiff may file an amended complaint by June 15, 2018.
If Plaintiff does not file an amended complaint or if
Plaintiff's amended complaint still fails to state a
claim, then this action will be dismissed for failure to
state a claim and a strike will be assessed against Plaintiff
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). If Plaintiff files an amended
complaint, the ...