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Rondeau v. Curry

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 16, 2017

TERRY R. CURRY, Defendant.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         Plaintiff commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on April 3, 2017, against Terry Curry, the Marion County Prosecuting Attorney, for Curry's decision not to prosecute for perjury one of the witnesses who testified against plaintiff at plaintiff's state court criminal trial. In screening the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court dismissed the complaint finding Curry had prosecutorial immunity for all decisions concerning the prosecutorial function. See Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976); Fields v. Wharrie, 672 F.3d 505, 510 (7th Cir. 2012). The Court allowed plaintiff through May 18, 2017, to show cause why the action should not be dismissed or to file an amended complaint that stated a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Plaintiff has responded with two filings, (1) an “amended statement of claim, ” and (2) a motion to set aside judgment, both filed May 12, 2017.

         I. Amended Statement of Claim

         The amended statement of claim, which is in effect an amended complaint, names the original defendant Terry Curry, and adds defendants Carl Brizzi, Stephanie Wade, Noah Schafer, and Clarke Campbell. All four of the added defendants are current or former Marion County prosecutors. All of the allegations against all of the defendants concern their involvement with the state prosecution of plaintiff in State of Indiana v. Christopher Rondeau, Case No. 49G01-0904-MR-038670, a murder case tried in Marion County, Indiana.

         Plaintiff has now reframed his complaint to add to his original claim allegations that the prosecutors presented a fraudulent representation of the facts to his jury and unconstitutionally withheld information from the state trial court and the state post-conviction court. He also generally adds the four additional defendants to the original claim for not prosecuting a trial witness for perjury. As to the trial-related claims, plaintiff's allegations concern the presentation of evidence, evidence that was not used, and the way arguments were made. Plaintiff extrapolates the prosecutors' selective use of evidence into a fraud-upon-the-court argument, and contends this fraud continued through the post-conviction trial and appellate stages of his state conviction.

         Finally, plaintiff takes issue with this Court's finding that a prosecutor has immunity for prosecutorial actions and decisions. He contends that their actions, because they were fraudulent and because they unconstitutionally suppressed evidence, remove the prosecutors' immunity and make them liable in civil rights actions.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages against the five prosecutors. He also seeks to have the criminal judgment against him set aside pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(d)(3).

         II. Motion to Set Aside Judgment

         Plaintiff's Motion to Set Aside Judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(3) attacks the judgment of the Marion County criminal court, case number 49G01-0904-MR-038670, on the grounds of “fraud upon the court.” Plaintiff's motion has no argument section, and is supported solely by exhibits to the state trial record. It is a collateral attack on the validity of plaintiff's state court criminal conviction.

         III. Analysis

         A. Amended Statement of Claim.

         Plaintiff continues to assert his claims against the state prosecutors for their prosecutorial actions and conduct in his state criminal trial. With the exception of his original claim against the elected prosecuting attorney, Terry Curry, for not commencing perjury charges against one of the police officers who testified against plaintiff at trial, the new claims are lumped together against the four additional prosecutors for their trial decisions, tactics, and strategies. Plaintiff is particularly concerned about a police officer's characterization of plaintiff's injuries, which he calls perjury, about prosecutors not using all of the evidence at their disposal, which he calls fraud, and for allegedly not turning over all of the evidence to his defense, which he correctly identifies as a Brady violation. See Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

         It is clear that plaintiff is attempting another attack on his state conviction, as the relief he seeks in his complaint is not only monetary damages but also relief from the state judgment. To drive that point home, he filed the above-referenced motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(3). See discussion, part III.B., infra. Notwithstanding the fact that all five of the named defendants are or were state prosecutors or deputy prosecutors and continue to have absolute immunity from suit for their prosecutorial actions, see Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431 (1976), and Fields, 672 F.3d at 510, because it is now clear plaintiff's ...

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