United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE
Harrison, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint.
“A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed,
and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be
held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must
review the merits of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it if
the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
complaint, Harrison alleges that, he was charged with two
counts of robbery based on two false probable cause
affidavits. Specifically, on May 17, 2017, Detective Kenneth
Havlin filed a probable cause affidavit, attesting that
Harrison robbed a cellphone store on April 22, 2018. On May
22, 2018, Detective Gregory Radiger filed a probable cause
affidavit, attesting that Harrison robbed the same cellphone
store on March 19, 2018. In both affidavits, the detectives
cited the interview of Brandon Hill, who admitted to
committing the robberies and accused Harrison of assisting
him. Harrison seeks money damages and the dismissal of his
asserts a claim of malicious prosecution against Detective
Havlin and Detective Radiger because they did not inform the
State court that Hill had been promised that he would not be
prosecuted if he provided assistance with the robbery cases
and because, on June 20, 2018, Hill drafted an affidavit to
recant his accusation of Harrison. Malicious prosecution is a
tort recognized under Indiana law, but the Indiana Tort Claim
Act does not allow such claims to proceed against
governmental employees. Serino v. Hensley, 735 F.3d
588, 595 (7th Cir. 2013); Ind. Code. § 34-13-3-3(6).
of malicious prosecution may also be brought under federal
law, but this is rarely appropriate because
“individuals do not have a federal right not to be
summoned into court and prosecuted without probable cause,
under either the Fourth Amendment or the Fourteenth
Amendment's Procedural Due Process Clause.” Ray
v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 664 (7th Cir. 2011).
“[T]o state a viable malicious prosecution claim under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of a
particular constitutional right, such as the right to be free
from unlawful seizures under the Fourth Amendment, or the
right to a fair trial under the Due Process Clause.”
Welton v. Anderson, 770 F.3d 670, 673 (7th Cir.
complaint suggests that the criminal charges resulted in
Harrison's detention but also suggests that the detention
was lawful. “The Fourth Amendment prohibits government
officials from detaining a person in the absence of probable
cause.” Manuel v. City of Joliet, Ill., 137
S.Ct. 911, 918 (2017). The Fourth Amendment also requires
“a judicial determination of probable cause as a
prerequisite to extended restraint of liberty following
arrest.” Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 114
(1975). “Probable cause exists when, based on the facts
known, a reasonable person would believe a person was guilty
of committing an offense.” Penn v. Harris, 296
F.3d 573, 576-77 (7th Cir. 2002). Notably, even if the
Hill's accusation was omitted from the affidavits, the
charge for the March 2018 robbery would still be supported by
substantial evidence, including the video recording showing
two males in the vehicle used to commit the robbery and the
statements of Harrison's girlfriend that this vehicle
belonged to her and that she allowed Harrison to borrow the
vehicle at the time of the robbery. This evidence is
sufficient to establish probable cause to detain Harrison in
connection with the March 2018 robbery, and Harrison does not
suggest that he did not receive a probable cause hearing. As
a result, the complaint indicates that Harrison is not
unlawfully detained, and he identifies no other valid
constitutional violation. Therefore, the claims against
Detective Havlin and Detective Radiger are dismissed.
further alleges that Prosecutors John M. Espar and Rebecca
Buitendorp have not dismissed criminal charges despite the
lack of probable of cause. He asserts that the failure to
dismiss his criminal charges violates his constitutional
rights. However, “in initiating a prosecution and in
presenting the State's case, the prosecutor is immune
from a civil suit for damages under § 1983.”
Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976).
Absolute immunity shields prosecutors even if they act
maliciously, unreasonably, without probable cause, or even on
the basis of false testimony or evidence. Smith v.
Power, 346 F.3d 740, 742 (7th Cir. 2003). Therefore,
Harrison cannot proceed on a claim for money damages against
Prosecutors Espar and Buitendorp.
Harrison proceed on a claim seeking the dismissal of his
criminal charges. The doctrine of abstention prohibits
federal courts from staying or enjoining pending State court
proceedings except under special circumstances. Younger
v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43 (1971). This means that
“federal courts must abstain from enjoining or
otherwise interfering in ongoing state court proceedings that
are (1) judicial in nature, (2) involve important state
interests, and (3) provide an adequate opportunity to raise
the federal claims, as long as (4) no exceptional
circumstances exist that would make abstention
inappropriate.” Stroman Realty, Inc. v.
Martinez, 505 F.3d 658, 662 (7th Cir. 2007). Because
ordering the dismissal of Harrison's State criminal case
would interfere with an ongoing State court proceeding, he
cannot obtain such relief in federal court. See Neville
v. Cavanagh, 611 F.2d 673, 676 (7th Cir. 1979);
Barrett v. Scott, 2016 WL 3661103, at *2 (C.D. Ill.
July 5, 2016).
the complaint does not state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, I will give Harrison the opportunity to file an
amended complaint. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d
1014 (7th Cir. 2013). However, merely because he is permitted
to file an amended complaint is not a reason for him to do
so. Harrison should file an amended complaint only if he
believes that he has a meritorious federal claim.
these reasons, the court:
DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint form and send it to Daniel Harrison;
GRANTS Daniel Harrison until October 22, 2018, to
file an amended complaint;
CAUTIONS Daniel Harrison that, if he does not respond by that
deadline, this case will be dismissed without further notice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the complaint ...