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Dixon v. Affrunti

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

August 7, 2019

RICHARD DIXON Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW AFFRUNTI, Defendant.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On May 2, 2019, Plaintiff Richard Dixon, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint (d/e 1) against Defendant Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Affrunti pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking money damages and unspecified injunctive and declaratory relief. On June 19, 2019, ASA Affrunti filed a Motion to Dismiss asserting that he is entitled to prosecutorial immunity and the Court should decline to exercise jurisdiction based on Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971).

         The Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. ASA Affrunti is entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity. In addition, to the extent Dixon seeks to enjoin the underlying state criminal proceedings, the Court abstains under Younger v. Harris.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of a complaint. Christensen v. Cty. of Boone, Ill., 483 F.3d 454, 458 (7th Cir. 2007). To state a claim for relief, a plaintiff need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing he is entitled to relief and provide the defendant fair notice of the claims. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting all well-pleaded allegations as true and construing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. Id. Pro se pleadings are construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The following facts come from the Complaint and are accepted as true at the motion to dismiss stage. Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081.

         On May 25, 2017, Dixon was charged with the manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance in Sangamon County Circuit Court No. 17-CF-503. ASA Affrunti is directly handling the prosecution, which remains pending.

         Dixon alleges that discovery in the state criminal case shows that he is not the individual in the video of a controlled buy that forms the basis of the criminal prosecution. The police report described the “individual” in the video as weighing 160 pounds, but Dixon asserts that he has weighed close to 300 pounds for the past 20 years. Despite evidence showing that Dixon was not the individual who made the controlled buy, Dixon remained in jail until October 13, 2017 when he was released following a bond reduction. (However, Dixon is currently detained on other charges in the case of People v. Dixon, Sangamon Co. 2019-CF-37 as of January 2019. See http://records.sangamoncountycircuitclerk.org/sccc/DisplayDocke t.sc (last visited August 5, 2019)). According to Dixon, ASA Affrunti has not moved to dismiss the case, despite Plaintiff's former counsel telling ASA Affrunti that Dixon is not the individual in the video.[1]

         On June 19, 2019, ASA Affrunti filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. ASA Affrunti asserts he is entitled to prosecutorial immunity. He also argues that, to the extent Dixon seeks to enjoin his criminal prosecution, the Court should decline to exercise jurisdiction based on Younger v. Harris. See SKS & Assocs., Inc. v. Dart, 619 F.3d 674, 678 (7th Cir. 2010) (stating that Younger abstention is based on the principles of equity, comity, and federalism and “requires federal courts to abstain when a criminal defendant seeks a federal injunction to block his state court prosecution on federal constitutional grounds”). Finally, ASA Affrunti argues that Dixon has failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted.

         In his response, Dixon asserts that the Court must take his allegations as true and that his complaint clearly states a claim for which relief may be granted. Dixon also asserts that the ASA Affrunti was not acting within the scope of his duties as a prosecutor when ASA Affrunti continued to prosecute him.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. ASA Affrunti is Absolutely Immune from Dixon's Civil Suit ...


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