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Stapleton v. Mathew

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

August 7, 2019

GREGORY STAPLETON, Plaintiff,
v.
JENNIFER MATHEW, STATE JOURNAL REGISTER, MICHAEL HARMON, MICHAEL NEWMAN, and CHANNEL 20 NEWS Defendants.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause is before the Court on the Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendants Jennifer Mathew and Michael Harmon (d/e 14) and Defendant The State Journal-Register (d/e 18). Because Plaintiff fails to state a claim against these Defendants, the Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED. The Court also dismisses Channel 20 News pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) for failure to state a claim.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In April 2019, Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint (d/e 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Jennifer Mathew, a Sangamon County assistant state's attorney (ASA Mathew); the State Journal Register; Michael Newman, a Springfield police officer (Officer Newman); Mark Harmon, a Sangamon County assistant public defender (Attorney Harmon); and Channel 20 News. On May 20, 2019, U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, in 2009, he was accused of criminal sexual assault of two young women while Plaintiff was a coach at a junior high school. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.

         On June 18, 2018, Plaintiff's church had vocational bible school for adults and children. Plaintiff had a meeting with his pastor, who asked if Plaintiff could drive the church van to pick up adult and children church members. Someone complained, and a warrant was issued. Plaintiff asserts the warrant was issued for being in a park and “all this happen[ed] at [his] church which [he has] been a member for almost two years.” Compl. at 6.

         Plaintiff asserts that the courts have injured his character and caused physical and emotional distress to Plaintiff, Plaintiff's wife, and Plaintiff's kids. Plaintiff asserts that Officer Newman's testimony should not “stay” because, before Officer Newman was a police officer, Officer Newman was sleeping with Plaintiff's ex-wife while they were going through a divorce. Plaintiff also got into a fight with Officer Newman.

         In the section pertaining to “relief requested, ” Plaintiff states that he wants Sangamon County investigated for “racist conviction” and to see justice come to the ones who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, like himself. Compl. at 7. Plaintiff also wants a change to the grand jury system, asserting that the person and the lawyer should be present. Plaintiff seeks $3 million for defamation of character, emotional distress, mental stress, psychological pain, and pain and suffering for himself, his wife, and his children.

         ASA Mathew, Attorney Harmon, and The State Journal-Register have filed motions to dismiss. Officer Newman and Channel 2 News have been served but have not responded to the complaint.

         ASA Mathew and Attorney Harmon move to dismiss, asserting (1) the complaint fails to provide sufficient notice of the claims asserted against them, (2) the Court lacks jurisdiction, and (3) Plaintiff cannot bring claims on behalf of others. The State Journal-Register separately moves to dismiss on the same grounds. These Defendants ask the Court to take judicial notice of Sangamon County No. 2018-CF-717, People v. Gregory M. Stapleton, which reflects that, on May 13, 2019, Plaintiff pled guilty to “Sex Offender Providing Services to Persons Under 18” in violation of 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(c-7).[1] Plaintiff was sentenced to four years' imprisonment, which he is presently serving.

         Plaintiff filed a response to the motion to dismiss and included additional facts. A court can consider new allegations raised in a brief that are consistent with the complaint. Help At Home Inc. v. Medical Capital L.L.C., 260 F.3d 748, 752 (7th Cir. 2001).[2]

         Plaintiff responds that ASA Mathew issued a warrant for Plaintiffs arrest after Officer Newman made a report. Officer Newman testified at Plaintiffs preliminary hearing. Plaintiff contends that Officer Newman had a conflict of interest because Officer Newman purportedly slept with Plaintiffs ex-wife while Plaintiff and the ex-wife were going through a divorce and Plaintiff got in a physical fight with Officer Newman (before Officer Newman became a police officer). Plaintiff contends that Officer Newman had a conflict of interest and that his making the complaint and testifying at the preliminary hearing was “a revenge thing” against Plaintiff. Resp. at 3 (d/e 20).

         Plaintiff asserts that The State Journal-Register and Channel 20 News made false statements. Plaintiff also states that The State Journal-Register and Channel 20 News broadcast what was given to them, but the facts were false.

         Plaintiff claims that Attorney Harmon rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. Plaintiff states that Attorney Harmon withdrew Plaintiff's plea without Plaintiff's permission. Plaintiff also contends ...


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