United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Daniel Taylor spent more than 20 years in prison for two
murders that he did not commit. He has now sued the City of
Chicago and various individual police officers, alleging that
they coerced him to give a false confession and concealed
exculpatory evidence. Currently before the Court are the
parties’ objections   to Magistrate Judge
Finnegan’s report and recommendation  proposing
certain sanctions against Taylor. For the reasons stated
herein, the Court overrules the parties’ objections and
adopts the report and recommendation in full.
was arrested on December 3, 1992 and charged with two murders
that occurred at 910 W. Agatite Avenue in Chicago around 8:45
p.m. on November 16, 1992. R&R at 3. Police records show,
however, that Taylor was in police custody at the time of the
murders and was not released until after 10:00 p.m. that
evening. Id. According to Taylor, Defendants
discovered this fact shortly after his arrest and then
fabricated evidence to undermine the validity of his alibi.
Id. Additionally, Taylor claims, Defendants coerced
his confession and withheld exculpatory evidence.
Id. at 3–4.
to a transcript of a conversation between Taylor and a
prosecutor shortly after his arrest, Taylor confessed to
committing the murders with several other individuals.
Id. at 4. Taylor allegedly stated that, after
committing the crime, he hid the weapon and walked to 834 W.
Agatite, where his acquaintance, Akia “Deon”
Phillips, was staying. Id. Taylor remained there
until the police raided the home later that evening.
Id. When the police arrived, they asked Taylor to
show them where Phillips was, and Taylor complied.
Id. This version of events is largely reflected in a
police report prepared by Officers Sean Glinski and Michael
Berti on December 14, 1992. Id. at 5.
a re-examination of the case in 2003, while Taylor was
incarcerated, he provided an interview to the State’s
Attorney’s Office (“SAO”). Id. at
6. According to a report of the interview, Taylor stated
that, after being released from police lockup on November 16,
1992, he went to the area of Agatite and Hazel, where he
encountered officers who asked him if he knew where Phillips
was. Id. Taylor showed them where Phillips’s
girlfriend lived. Id.
initiated this lawsuit in 2014, alleging that Defendants
“fabricated an encounter” with him on the street
near the murder site on November 16, 1992, when in fact he
was in police custody. Id. at 6–7. He
responded to written discovery in this case on June 3, 2014.
Id. at 7. In response to an interrogatory directing
him to “[d]escribe in detail with specific references
to time [his] movements and exact whereabouts” between
8:00 a.m. on November 15, 1992 and 8:00 a.m. on November 17,
1992 and to “identify each and every person [he] spoke
to or otherwise interacted with during such period of time,
” Taylor did not mention any interaction with Berti and
Glinski on November 16, 1992. Id.. Instead, Taylor
stated that he got into a fight around 6:00 p.m. that evening
and was taken to the police lockup at Addison and Halsted.
Id.. Then, he stated, he was released around 10:00
p.m. and went to 854 W. Agatite, where he sometimes stayed.
Id. at 7–8. Upon arrival, he “realized
that the Agatite house had been raided by the police.”
Id. at 8. He remained there until early in the
morning of November 17. Id. When he left, a police
officer picked him up and drove him to a shelter.
deposition on September 4, 2014, Taylor reaffirmed the
accuracy of his discovery responses and testified that he had
not interacted with Berti or Glinski on November 16, 1992.
Id.. When asked about the encounter described in the
police report, Taylor unequivocally stated that no such
encounter had occurred. Id. When Taylor was reminded
about his interview with the SAO in 2003, he denied ever
admitting that the encounter had occurred and reiterated that
he had not met the officers on the night in question.
Id. at 9–10. But then Taylor was given a
summary of the interview with the SAO, which contradicted his
account, id. at 10, and he stated that the summary
was “pretty much” accurate. Id. at
discovery in this case continued, a jury trial was held in
Patrick v. City of Chicago, No. 14 C 3658 (N.D.
Ill.). Id. at 11. The plaintiff in that case, Deon
Patrick, was one of the other individuals who had been
wrongfully convicted of the November 16, 1992 murders.
Id. at 1. Taylor testified at the trial on March 30,
2017. Id. at 11. On the stand, Taylor stated that
he, in fact, had interacted with the police officers
on the night of the murders. Id. at 11–12.
Taylor was shown his deposition testimony from this case, and
he admitted that he had been untruthful at his deposition
because he “was ashamed that [he] took police officers
to look for a friend.” Id. at 12. On
cross-examination, Taylor was asked whether he
“intentionally lied under oath at [his]
deposition.” Id. Taylor responded,
filed a motion for sanctions on August 18, 2017, arguing that
this case should be dismissed due to Taylor’s
dishonesty. Id. at 13. The motion was referred to
Magistrate Judge Finnegan, who issued a report and
recommendation on September 12, 2018. Magistrate Judge
Finnegan declined to dismiss the case, but recommended
sanctions against Taylor in the form of a jury instruction
and an award of attorneys’ fees related to the motion
for sanctions. Id. at 37. Both sides filed
objections to the report and recommendation under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 72.
imposition of sanctions is a dispositive matter for which a
magistrate judge makes a recommendation that a district court
reviews de novo. See Cleversafe, Inc. v. Amplidata,
Inc., 287 F.R.D. 424, 431 (N.D. Ill. 2012). As the
Seventh Circuit has explained:
De novo review requires the district judge to decide
the case based on an independent review of the evidence and
arguments without giving any presumptive weight to the
magistrate judge’s conclusion. The district judge is
free, and encouraged, to consider all of the available
information about the case when making this independent
decision. A district judge may be persuaded by the reasoning
of a magistrate judge or a special master while still
engaging in an independent decision-making process.
Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 661 (7th Cir.
sides object to the magistrate judge’s recommended
sanctions. Defendants contend that the recommended sanctions
are insufficient, and that the case should have been
dismissed. Alternatively, they argue, the Court should adopt
additional sanctions that were rejected by the magistrate
judge. Taylor, on the other hand, contends that
Defendants’ motion should have been denied in its
Dismissal as a Sanction
argue that dismissal is the only appropriate sanction for
Taylor’s “repeated and intentional bouts of
perjury committed . . . during discovery in this case
relating to material issues.” Defs.’ R. 72 Obj.
at 1–2, ECF No. 474. The magistrate judge rejected this
sanction because she believed it was disproportionate to the
gravity of Taylor’s misconduct. The Court agrees.
Seventh Circuit has recognized that dismissal may be an
appropriate sanction in some cases, such as when a party has
“shown a lack of respect for the court or proceedings,
” White v. Williams, 423 Fed.Appx. 645, 647
(7th Cir. 2011), or upon a finding of “willfulness, bad
faith, or fault, ” Maynard v. Nygren, 332 F.3d
462, 468 (7th Cir. 2003), overruled on other grounds by
Ramirez v. T&H Lemont, Inc., 845 F.3d 772 (7th Cir.
2016). That said, while perjury in the course of discovery
may warrant dismissal in some cases, see, e.g., Jackson
v. Murphy, 468 Fed.Appx. 616, 619–20 (7th Cir.
2012), dismissal is a “draconian” measure that
should be “employed sparingly and only when there is a
record of delay, contumacious conduct, or when other, less
drastic sanctions prove unavailing, ” Dotson v.
Bravo, 321 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2003).
“Dismissing a case with prejudice is one of the
harshest sanctions a court can impose, and so courts must be
especially careful before taking that step.” Evans
v. Griffin, ___ F.3d ___, No. 17-1957, 2019 WL 3720917,
at *5 (7th Cir. Aug. 7, 2019).
there is no dispute that Taylor testified at the
Patrick trial that he had deliberately lied in his
deposition about his encounter with Berti and Glinski on the
night of November 16, 1992. According to Defendants, this
type of misconduct must be sanctioned by dismissal. But the
cases upon which Defendants rely all involved conduct much
more egregious than what occurred in this case. See
Ramirez, 845 F.3d at 781–82 (affirming dismissal
as a sanction where the plaintiff had engaged in witness
tampering); Jackson, 468 Fed.Appx. at 620 (affirming
dismissal where the plaintiff had forged a prison grievance
and lied to the court, and the fraud was uncovered only after
a “costly and contested” hearing); Greviskes
v. Univs. Research Ass’n, Inc., 417 F.3d 752, 755,
759 (7th Cir. 2005) (affirming dismissal where the plaintiff
had impersonated a colleague to obtain records, concealed the
fraudulent activity, refused to stipulate to basic facts, and
submitted multiple frivolous motions); Thomas v. Gen.
Motors Acceptance Corp., 288 F.3d 305, 306 (7th Cir.
2002) (affirming dismissal where the plaintiff had lied on an
application to proceed in forma pauperis in an
attempt to “defraud the government”); Ridge
Chrysler Jeep, LLC v. Daimler Chrysler Servs. N. Am.,
LLC, No. 03 C 760, 2006 WL 2808158, at *9 (N.D. Ill.
Sept. 6, 2006) (dismissing case as a sanction where the
plaintiffs’ president and owner had failed to preserve
or fabricated ...