United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
ALICIA T. BEAL, Plaintiff,
STATE OF INDIANA, NICOLE DUNCANSON, JOHN DOUGHTY, EZEQUIEL HINOJOSA, JOSHUA MALHER, KATHLEEN SULLIVAN, BERNARD CARTER, ANTHONY J. MOZIER, and DAVID J. KOWALCZYK, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
T. Beal, without counsel, filed a complaint and seeks leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 allows an
indigent plaintiff to commence a civil action without
prepaying the filing fee. Denton v. Hernandez, 504
U.S. 25, 27 (1992). When presented with a request to proceed
in forma pauperis, the district court makes two
determinations. First, whether the claims have sufficient
merit to proceed. Id. Second, whether paying the
filing fee would result in the inability “to provide
himself and dependents with the necessities of life.”
Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S.
331, 339 (1948) (quotation marks omitted). If a court finds
that the suit lacks sufficient merit or that an inadequate
showing of poverty exists, the court must deny leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. Smith-Bey v. Hosp.
Adm'r, 841 F.2d 751, 757 (7th Cir. 1988).
a court must dismiss a case at any time if it determines that
the suit is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2)(B). To determine whether the suit states a
claim, the court applies the same standard as it would for a
motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607,
611 (7th Cir. 2000). In deciding a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and view them in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). To survive dismissal, a
“complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). However, “[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) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
case, Beal satisfies the financial prong of the analysis, but
the complaint does not state a claim. Beal cites to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1985 and § 1986. Section 1985 “prohibits a
conspiracy . . . motivated by racial, or other class-based
discriminatory animus.” Smith v. Gomez, 550
F.3d 613, 617 (7th Cir. 2008). Section 1986 makes liable
those who have the knowledge and ability to stop a conspiracy
under § 1985. Here, Beal has neither alleged a
conspiracy among the defendants nor that their actions were
motivated by discriminatory animus of any type, therefore she
does not state a claim under § 1985 or § 1986.
Nevertheless, the Court will analyze her claims pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. “In order to state a claim under
§ 1983 a plaintiff must allege: (1) that the defendants
deprived him of a federal constitutional right; and (2) that
the defendants acted under color of state law.”
Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).
suing nine defendants for $2.5 million based on events
related to her arrest and prosecution. She is suing the State
of Indiana Lake County Court. However, the Eleventh Amendment
generally precludes a citizen from suing a State or one of
its agencies or departments in federal court. Wynn v.
Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001). There are
three exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity: (1) suits
directly against the State based on a cause of action where
Congress has abrogated the state's immunity from suit;
(2) suits directly against the State if the State waived its
sovereign immunity; and (3) suits against a State official
seeking prospective equitable relief for ongoing violations
of federal law. MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Ill.
Commerce Comm'n, 183 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 1999).
None of these exceptions applies here. Congress did not
abrogate the States' immunity through the enactment of
§1983. Joseph v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Wis.
Sys., 432 F.3d 746, 748 (7th Cir. 2005). Indiana has not
consented to this lawsuit. And Beal is only seeking monetary
damages based on past events. Therefore, the claims against
the State of Indiana must be dismissed.
alleges that Judge Kathleen Sullivan knowingly approved a
meritless probable cause affidavit, issued a warrant for her
arrest, and told her she did not have a right to a speedy
trial. However, a judge is entitled to absolute immunity for
judicial acts regarding matters within the court's
jurisdiction, even if the judge's “exercise of
authority is flawed by the commission of grave procedural
errors.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359
(1978). Because reviewing probable cause affidavits, issuing
arrest warrants, and advising arrestees of their rights are
all within the jurisdiction of a State criminal court, Judge
Sullivan has immunity from suit and the claims against her
must be dismissed.
alleges Prosecuting Attorney Bernard Carter and Deputy
Prosecuting Attorney David J. Kowalczyk approved filing
charges against Beal even though there were two different
police reports about her activities. 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). Beal also alleges that Deputy
Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Malher did not disclose
exculpatory evidence. Beal does not explain what exculpatory
evidence was withheld from her. Nevertheless,
“determining whether information is
‘exculpatory' and ‘material' and
therefore must be disclosed pursuant to a Brady
request are actions that require the prosecutor to exercise
his professional judgment.” Moore v. Valder,
65 F.3d 189, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1995). “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) (quotation marks and
citation omitted). Therefore the claims against Bernard
Carter, David J. Kowalczyk, and Joshua Malher must be
alleges that Police Chief John Doughty, Captain Ezequiel
Hinojosa, and Lt. Anthony J. Mozier refused to allow her to
file a formal complaint against Detective Nicole Duncanson,
though Assistant Chief A. Short eventually accepted the
complaint. However, police officers cannot be held liable in
a § 1983 action for refusing to take a police report
because there is no “constitutional right to have the
police investigate . . . .” Rossi v. City of
Chi., 790 F.3d 729, 735 (7th Cir. 2015). Moreover, even
if such a right existed, Beal has not alleged she suffered
any injury from the brief delay in filing a complaint.
Therefore the claims against John Doughty, Ezequiel Hinojosa,
and Anthony J. Mozier must be dismissed.
Beal alleges that Detective Nicole Duncanson violated her
rights in several ways. Detective Duncanson wrote a police
report which contained “completely different
information from a police report taken by” Officer E.
Cook. [ECF No. 1 at 4.] Beal alleges “Det. Nicole
Duncanson did surely commit perjury I.C. 35-44.1-2-1 because
the facts in her report were different from Officer E.
Cook's report.” [ECF No. at 5.] Both reports are
attached to the complaint. [ECF No. at 21-26.] Officer Cook
wrote a short report based on his interview of Jaquita M.
George minutes after she called the police to say Beal had
followed her car to a parking lot and waived a gun while
screaming at her. Detective Duncanson wrote a long report
weeks later based on her interviews of Jaquita George, a
minor passenger who was in the car at the time, and Alicia
Beal. Neither report is based on the personal knowledge of
either reporting officer. Both are based on separate
interviews of witnesses. As such, merely alleging that
Detective Duncanson wrote a report with different information
than a prior report does not state a claim.
alleges that Detective Duncanson asked her “to sign a
Miranda Warning [but] failed to read the Miranda Warning
Rights before questioning; she did so about the end of
questioning.” [ECF No. 1 at 6.] However,
The Constitution and laws of the United States do not
guarantee [the plaintiff] the right to Miranda
warnings. They only guarantee him the right to be free from
self-incrimination. The Miranda decision does not
even suggest that police officers who fail to advise an
arrested person of his rights are subject to civil liability;
it requires, at most, only that any confession made in the
absence of such advice of rights be excluded from evidence.
No. rational argument can be made in support of the notion
that the failure to give Miranda warnings subjects a police
officer to liability under the Civil Rights Act § 1983.
Hensley v. Carey, 818 F.2d 646, 650 (7th Cir. 1987)
(quoting Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1263
(10th Cir. 1976)); see also Hanson v. Dane Cty., 608
F.3d 335, 339 (7th Cir. 2010). Therefore, this allegation
does not state a claim.
alleges “[d]ue to Detective Duncanson's failure to
investigate the case properly, I was charged . . . .”
[ECF No. 1 at 6.] However, “there is no such thing as a
constitutional right not to be prosecuted without probable
cause.” Serino v. Hensley, 735 F.3d 588, 593
(7th Cir. 2013). Beal also alleges that Duncanson should not
have believed Jaquita George's allegations about the gun
because she had previously harassed Beal and made untrue
statements. However, there is no “constitutional right
to have the police investigate . . . to his level of
satisfaction.” Rossi, 790 F.3d at 735.
Therefore these allegations do not state a claim.
alleges that “Det. Duncanson changed the report in
order to have a warrant issued for [her] arrest.” [ECF
No. 1 at 7.] The Fourth Amendment is violated “if the
requesting officer knowingly, intentionally, or with reckless
disregard for the truth, makes false statements in requesting
the warrant and the false statements were necessary to the
determination that a warrant should issue.” Betker
v. Gomez, 692 F.3d 854, 860 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Knox v. Smith, 342 F.3d 651, 658 (7th Cir. 2003)).
Here, it is unclear what statements Beal believes were
changed. What is clear is that the substance of the two
police reports are the same and that the first one was
sufficient to have obtained an arrest warrant for Beal when
it recounted that, “Jaquita stated she was driving . .
. and noticed a vehicle following her ...