United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
filed this case pro se from the Sangamon County Jail. The
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
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. U.S., 721 F.3d 418,
422 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoted cite omitted).
26, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (d/e 1) against Judge
John M. Madonia, James Elmore, John C. Milhiser, and Officer
L. Norton. Plaintiff brings the action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. To state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, Plaintiff must allege (1) the deprivation of a
right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States; and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a
person acting under the color of state law. Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 822 (7th Cir.
is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated battery, resisting
a peace officer, and retail theft in Sangamon County No.
2017-CF-001366. The court docket shows that the Office of the
Public Defender was appointed to represent Plaintiff and that
he is represented by attorney James Elmore. See
visited July 19, 2018); In re Salem, 465 F.3d 767,
771 (7th Cir. 2006) (taking judicial notice of state court
dockets). Judge Madonia is the judge assigned to the case.
Milhiser is the Sangamon County State's Attorney.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was savagely beaten by
Officer Norton of the Sangamon County police department and
then arrested for resisting arrest and aggravated battery.
Plaintiff alleges that he is “pretty sure” that
Judge Madonia and Attorney Elmore are “in a plot to
deprive” Plaintiff of his life, liberty, and happiness.
Plaintiff alleges that Judge Madonia has denied Plaintiff a
speedy trial. Plaintiff alleges that Attorney Elmore failed
to object to a continuance and requested Plaintiff be placed
in cuffs and shackles at trial.
fails to state a claim against Judge Madonia, Attorney
Elmore, and State's Attorney Milhiser.
only factual allegations made against Judge Madonia pertain
to his judicial acts. A judge is entitled to absolute
immunity for his judicial acts unless he acted in the clear
absence of jurisdiction, even if the action is erroneous,
malicious, or in excess of his authority. Brokaw v.
Mercer Cnty., 235 F.3d 1000, 1015 (7th Cir. 2000).
Plaintiff has not alleged that Judge Madonia acted in the
clear absence of jurisdiction. Therefore, the claims against
Judge Madonia are dismissed.
also complains of actions taken by attorney Elmore acting as
a public defender. A court-appointed public defender does not
act under color of state law. Polk Cnty. v. Dodson,
454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981) (“[A] public defender does not
act under color of state law when performing a lawyer's
traditional functions as counsel to a defendant in a criminal
proceeding.”). Although Plaintiff alleges that he is
“pretty sure” that Elmore and Judge Madonia acted
together to deprive Plaintiff of his rights, conclusory
statements are insufficient to state a claim. See Tower
v. Glover, 467 U.S. 914, 923 (1984) (holding that state
public defenders are not immune under § 1983 if they
conspire with state actors to deprive their clients of
federal rights); Tobey v. Chibucos, 890 F.3d 634,
639 (7th Cir. 2018) (the court does not “credit legal
conclusions, ” and “‘[t]hreadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements'” are not sufficient)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678
complaint contains no allegations against State's
Attorney Milhiser and, therefore, fails to state a claim
against him. In addition, prosecutors are entitled to
absolute prosecutorial immunity for conduct that relates to
their role as an advocate for the state. Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993) (“[A]cts
undertaken by a prosecutor in preparing for the initiation of
judicial proceedings or for trial, and which occur in the
courts of his role as an advocate for the State, are entitled
to the protections of absolute immunity”).
has stated a § 1983 claim that Officer Norton used
excessive force in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth
Amendment rights. The allegations against Norton appear to be
intertwined with the facts pertaining to the underlying
criminal prosecution against Plaintiff in Sangamon County. A
plaintiff cannot bring a § 1983 damages claim that
necessarily implies the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87
(1994) (holding that a state prisoner's § 1983
damages claim must be dismissed if a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would “necessarily imply the invalidity of
his conviction or sentence”); but see Evans v.
Poskon, 603 F.3d 362, 364 (7th Cir. 2010) (noting that
in some instances, a Fourth Amendment claim can coexist with
a valid conviction). Although Plaintiff has not been
convicted and Heck would not yet apply, it would be
within this Court's discretion to stay this civil action
until the criminal case has ended. See Wallace v.
Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94 (2007) (court may stay a
civil action until the criminal case has ended); Lynch v.
Nolan, 598 F.Supp.2d 900, 903-04 (C.D. Ill. 2009)
(finding Younger abstention appropriate to stay the
plaintiff's § 1983 suit until the state criminal
proceedings were fully resolved). The Court will order
service on Officer Norton, who can raise this issue if
has also filed additional motions. Plaintiff filed a motion
(d/e 6) titled “Add on to Case” . Plaintiff
seeks to add to the Complaint the following: “mental
pain [and] suffering, ” “illegal detained
(imprisonment), ” and “dam[a]ges 500, 000
Thousand.” The Motion is denied. The Court does not
accept piecemeal amendments to a complaint.
also filed a Motion for a Freeze (d/e 5) asking that this
Court freeze all court proceedings in Sangamon County. This
Motion is denied. Federal courts cannot enjoin ongoing state
criminal proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances.
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-44
(1971). Plaintiff does not identify any extraordinary