United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
D. Leinenweber Judge
Rodney Holmes alleges that he was the target of a malicious
prosecution orchestrated by the Defendants. The Defendants
now move to dismiss Holmes's complaint for failure to
state a claim. For the reasons discussed below, that motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
the Complaint is thin on details, this is what the Court has
been able to infer: Rodney Holmes was a Lake County
Corrections Officer when an inmate, one Eugene Gruber, died.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 14, Dkt. 7.) Holmes alleges that the
Defendants “wanted a scape goat” for Gruber's
death, especially given the approaching reelection bid by
Defendant Curran, so they decided to frame Holmes,
notwithstanding the Defendants' shared understanding that
Holmes “was innocent.” (Id. ¶¶
14, 17-18.) Holmes was indicted and tried in state court for
the crime of official misconduct, but he was acquitted.
Defendants Larsson and Rose allegedly “fabricated
events” surrounding Gruber's death and communicated
those fabrications to prosecutors and the grand jury
(id. ¶ 18); Defendant Wathen authorized
Defendant Larsson to participate in the grand jury
proceedings (id. ¶ 16); Defendant Rose
“spoke to the press” after Holmes's court
dates and suggested he was a criminal (id. ¶
19); and Defendant Kinville also allegedly lied to
prosecutors and then falsely testified against Holmes at
trial (id. ¶ 20).
his acquittal, Holmes filed this four-count lawsuit,
comprising: a due process claim arising from malicious
prosecution; an unspecified Fourth Amendment claim, also
arising from malicious prosecution; a malicious prosecution
claim under Illinois law; and a claim seeking indemnification
by Lake County and the Sheriff's Office of the other
Defendants. See, 745 ILCS 10/9-102. Defendants now
move to dismiss that Complaint for failure to state a claim.
(Dkt. 16.) In weighing that Motion, the Court accepts all
well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable
inferences in favor of the Plaintiff. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
MALICIOUS PROSECUTION (COUNTS I, II, AND III)
prosecution is not a free-standing, constitutional tort.
Hurt v. Wise, 880 F.3d 831, 843 (7th Cir. 2018).
Rather, a malicious prosecution claim must be predicated upon
the violation of some other constitutional right, such as
those provided by the Due Process Clause or the Fourth
Amendment. Id. Here, Holmes brings three different
varieties of malicious prosecution claims.
Due Process Claim (Count I)
Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause is the relevant
constitutional source for Count I. Id. at 843-44.
But Holmes's due-process rights are not implicated by the
evidence fabrication alleged here unless that evidence was
“used to deprive [Holmes] of [his] liberty in some
way.” Bianchi v. McQueen, 818 F.3d 309, 319
(7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Whitlock v. Brueggemann,
682 F.3d 567, 580 (7th Cir. 2012)). To cite the now-classic
example, no infringement of liberty occurs when an officer
fabricates evidence but merely keeps the phony proof in a
drawer, making no further use of it. Whitlock, 682
F.3d at 582 (citing Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 20 F.3d
789, 795 (7th Cir. 1994)).
even when the prosecution uses fabricated evidence at trial,
the defendant's due process claim is wiped away if he is
released on bond and then acquitted. See,
Bianchi, 818 F.3d at 320. In Alexander v.
McKinney, 692 F.3d 553, 557 (7th Cir. 2012), for
example, a plaintiff pursued a due process claim based on
fabricated evidence after he was arrested, immediately
released on bond, and acquitted. The Seventh Circuit held
that the acquittal foreclosed any due-process claim because
“[i]t would be anomalous to hold that attending a trial
deprives a criminal defendant of liberty without due process
of law, when the purpose of trial is to effectuate
due process.'” Bianchi, 818 F.3d at 321
(quoting Alexander, 692 F.3d at 557 n.2) (emphasis
in original); accord Saunders-El v. Rohde, 778 F.3d
556, 558 (7th Cir. 2015) (“[D]ue process is not
implicated when, as here, the defendant is released on bond
following his arrest and acquitted at trial.”); cf.
Hurt, 880 F.3d at 843-44 (refusing to reverse denial of
defendants' summary judgment motion based on qualified
immunity where relevant plaintiff was detained pretrial,
prosecutors used fabricated evidence against him, and he was
Holmes's Complaint recites that he was arrested,
prosecuted, and acquitted of all charges. The Complaint
nowhere explains whether Holmes was held in pretrial
detention or else released on bond, although his response
brief suggests the latter is true. (Resp. at 2, Dkt. 23
(reciting that Plaintiff was on bond).) The Defendants
suggest the same and explain that a so-called “Exhibit
A” demonstrates that “Holmes did not spend any
time in jail other than to be processed on the
warrant.” (Mem. in Supp. at 2-3, Dkt. 18.) The Court
cannot verify these representations, however, because
whatever “Exhibit A” might be is a mystery-it was
not attached to Defendants' Motion nor filed elsewhere
with the Court. To any extent, that Holmes was held in
pretrial detention is not a “reasonable
inference” that the Court must now draw from the
Complaint, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; rather, it is a
wholly absent, and here-critical, allegation. Given that
Holmes was acquitted, he cannot state a due process claim
unless he was held in pretrial detention-as opposed to
posting bond after his arrest. See,
Bianchi, 818 F.3d at 321; Saunders-El, 778
F.3d at 558. His failure to allege that fact is fatal to his
claim. If the briefing is mistaken, and Holmes was in fact
held in pretrial detention, he may replead this Count. Count
I is dismissed without prejudice.
Fourth Amendment Claim (Count II)
Fourth Amendment prohibits government officials from
detaining a person in the absence of probable cause.”
Manuel v. City of Joliet, 137 S.Ct. 911, 918-19
(2017). “That can happen when the police hold someone
without any reason before the formal onset of a criminal
proceeding. But it also can occur when legal process itself
goes wrong-when, for example, a judge's probable-cause
determination is predicated solely on a police officer's
false statements. Then, too, a person is confined without
constitutionally adequate justification.” Id.
It makes no difference that Holmes's initial
detention-his arrest-was authorized by a probable cause
determination made by a grand jury and not by a judge.
Id. at 920 n.8.
does not explain how any specific detention infringed his
Fourth Amendment rights, though his Complaint does mention
elsewhere that he was arrested. (Am. Compl. ¶¶
32-33.) He also alleges that the charges against him were
trumped-up and that the evidence presented to the grand jury
was fabricated. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-20.) By accepting
these allegations as true and considering the plausibility of
the Complaint as a whole, see, Atkins v. City of
Chicago, 631 F.3d 823, 832 (7th Cir. 2011), ...