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Wells v. Fowler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 19, 2018

LONNIE T. WELLS, Plaintiff,
v.
RALPH FOWLER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Now before this Court is the First Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Lonnie Wells on May 14, 2018. (Doc. 11). Plaintiff brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was incarcerated at Taylorville Correctional Center (“Taylorville”). (Doc. 1, p. 1). After being released from custody, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint against Ralph Fowler, a prosecuting attorney for the State of Illinois who is allegedly responsible for his conviction for conspiracy to obstruct justice. (Docs. 7, 11). Plaintiff alleges that Attorney Fowler improperly used evidence from an overturned child abuse and neglect case to prove the State's case against him. Id. In his request for relief, Plaintiff seeks the “TRUTH!” (Doc. 11, p. 7) (emphasis in original).

         This matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the First Amended 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). The First Amended Complaint does not survive screening.

         First Amended Complaint

         In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Attorney Fowler (State of Illinois Appellate Prosecutor) is guilty of official misconduct. (Doc. 11, p. 6). The allegations offered in support of this claim are far from clear. Id. The Court has done its best to summarize Plaintiff's Statement of Claim. Id.

         According to the allegations, the State of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) opened a case against Plaintiff's ex-wife, Dixon Turner. (Doc. 11, p. 6). Jeannie Parker (DCFS caseworker) investigated the allegations of child abuse and neglect against her and concluded that they were substantiated. Id. Despite this conclusion, the case against Dixon was dropped. Id.

         Fowler allegedly used his position to “fabricate evidence towards Dixon's benefit and then turn[ ] it towards [Plaintiff's] demise.” (Doc. 11, p. 6). Plaintiff does not explain what he means by this assertion, beyond stating that Fowler “successfully had a case from DCFS that was against [his] ex-wife, Dixon Turner, dropped, and then proceeded to become a witness for the prosecution” in Plaintiff's criminal case. Id. Plaintiff accuses Fowler of engaging in official misconduct, which he says is a Class 3 felony. Id.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff cannot use § 1983 as a vehicle for bringing criminal charges against the defendant. Although he allegedly seeks the “TRUTH, ” it appears that Plaintiff is actually attempting to initiate a criminal prosecution against Fowler for a Class 3 felony. (Doc. 11, pp. 6-7). An inmate has no right to compel a criminal prosecution. See, e.g., Wimberly v. Julius, 606 Fed.Appx. 309, 311 (7th Cir. 2015) cert. denied,136 S.Ct. 504 (2015) (citing Town of Castle Rock, Colo. v. Gonzales,545 U.S. 748, 768 (2005); Sandage v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Vanderburgh Cnty.,548 F.3d 595, 597 (7th Cir. 2008)). Further, this Court has no authority to initiate a criminal prosecution. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(1) (“[t]he indictment or information . . . must be signed by ...


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