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Johnson v. Winstead

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 4, 2019




         In this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law, Anthony Johnson brings claims arising from his prosecution and two convictions-both reversed on appeal-for the murder of Brandon Baity. After filing suit in August 2015, Doc. 1, Johnson was granted leave to file a first amended complaint, Docs. 24-25. The court dismissed with prejudice Johnson's federal claims-the Fourth Amendment false arrest claim and Miranda claim on statute of limitations grounds, and the Brady claim for failure to allege the suppression of material exculpatory information-and relinquished its supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims. Docs. 50-52 (Der-Yeghiayan, J.) (reported at 2016 WL 2937446 (N.D. Ill. May 20, 2016)).

         Johnson appealed the dismissal of only his Miranda claim. 2016 WL 8540188 (7th Cir. 2016) (Johnson's opening appeal brief). The Seventh Circuit reversed in part, holding that the Miranda claim arising from Johnson's second trial was timely, and remanded for further proceedings. 900 F.3d 428 (7th Cir. 2018). As a result of the Seventh Circuit's decision and Johnson's settlement with some defendants, what remains of the amended complaint are a state law malicious prosecution claim against Chicago police officers Brian Lutzow, Robert Garza, James Las Cola, Chester Bach, Dave Evans, and Edward Winstead, and a Miranda claim against Winstead and Las Cola.

         On remand, the case was reassigned to the undersigned judge's calendar, Doc. 63, and the parties asked to put the case on hold pending resolution of their cross-petitions for certiorari, Docs. 65, 68, 70, 73. After the cross-petitions were denied, Johnson moved for leave to file a second amended complaint to add a due process evidence fabrication claim and factual allegations pertinent to the malicious prosecution claim, Doc. 80, and Defendants moved to dismiss the Miranda and malicious prosecution claims, Doc. 88. The court in an oral ruling granted Johnson's motion to add factual allegations for the malicious prosecution claim, Doc. 84, and now denies Johnson's motion to add the evidence fabrication claim and denies Defendants' motion to dismiss.


         In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with additional facts set forth in Johnson's brief opposing dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). The facts are set forth as favorably to Johnson as those materials allow. See Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc., 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th Cir. 2016). In setting forth the facts at the pleading stage, the court does not vouch for their accuracy. See Goldberg v. United States, 881 F.3d 529, 531 (7th Cir. 2018).

         Baity was killed on October 1, 2003. Doc. 80-1 at ¶ 11. On December 4, 2003, Chicago police officers took Johnson, then seventeen years old, into custody. Id. at ¶ 17. At various points on December 5, 2003, Las Cola and Winstead interrogated Johnson without providing Miranda warnings, and Johnson gave unwarned statements that were later used against him at trial. Id. at ¶¶ 19-23. Johnson was released, id. at ¶¶ 26-27, and was taken back into custody on different charges on January 17, 2004, id. at ¶ 28.

         In the meantime, on December 5, 2003, Garza arrested non-party Nolan Swain without probable cause, and Winstead interrogated him about Baity's murder. Id. at ¶ 29. Swain was rearrested on May 7, 2004 as part of a drug sting. Id. at ¶ 30. Officers acting in concert with Bach, Evans, Lutzow, Las Cola, and Winstead beat and coerced Swain into signing a written statement implicating Johnson in the Baity murder. Ibid. Lutzow, Evans, Bach, and the officers who beat Swain promised him leniency on the drug charges if he implicated Johnson. Id. at ¶ 32. Bach, Evans, Lutzow, Las Cola, and Winstead were aware of Swain's mistreatment and that he had falsely implicated Johnson. Id. at ¶ 31. The next day, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Andreana Ann Turano Michiels interviewed Swain and promised him leniency if he implicated Johnson. Id. at ¶ 33.

         Also on May 7, 2004, Rufus Johnson (“Rufus, ” to avoid confusion) was arrested in a drug sweep. Id. at ¶ 34. Two unnamed detectives, in the presence of Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Hughes, who was acting in concert with Bach, Evans, Lutzow, Las Cola, and Winstead, told Rufus that he could “help” himself by implicating Johnson. Id. at ¶¶ 35-36. Rufus was transferred to another police station and met with ASA Turano Michiels, who told him that he had no choice but to implicate Johnson, which he did in a written statement. Id. at ¶¶ 38-39. Rufus later implicated Johnson in grand jury testimony and accepted a plea deal for the drug charge. Id. at ¶¶ 42-43.

         Later in May 2004, Winstead and Las Cola took Johnson from jail to the police station to ask him about Baity's murder, but Johnson refused to engage. Id. at ¶¶ 44-47. With Las Cola present, Winstead told Johnson that he would make sure Johnson was charged. Id. at ¶¶ 48-49. Winstead and Las Cola then fabricated police reports implicating Johnson in the murder. Id. at ¶ 50. In concert with Garza, Bach, and Evans, Winstead and Las Cola then persuaded Cook County State's Attorney officials to bring false murder charges against Johnson. Id. at ¶¶ 51-52.

         At Johnson's first trial, Lutzow, Garza, Las Cola, Bach, Evans, and Winstead provided false inculpatory testimony and the jury convicted him of murder. Id. at ¶¶ 12, 53. The Appellate Court of Illinois reversed the conviction and remanded. People v. Johnson, No. 1-08-0233, 1 N.E.3d 119 ( Ill. App. 2010) (unpublished table decision) (reproduced at Doc. 88-2).

         About a year after the reversal, on September 4, 2011, Las Cola and Winstead again interrogated Johnson without giving him Miranda warnings. Doc. 80-1 at ¶¶ 57, 64. At his second trial, Johnson's unwarned statements were introduced through Winstead's and Las Cola's testimony, and those two officers, Lutzow, Garza, Bach, and Evans testified falsely against him. Id. at ¶¶ 54, 59, 66. The jury again convicted Johnson of murder. Id. at ¶ 14. The state appellate court reversed the conviction on the ground that Johnson had not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Johnson, 23 N.E.3d 1216 ( Ill. App. 2014).


         I. Defendants' ...

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