United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Screening of the Complaint
Plaintiff Theodore Cedrick Briscoe, Jr. is a prisoner
currently incarcerated at the Plainfield Correctional
Facility. He brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Because the plaintiff is a
“prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(c), this Court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service on the
defendants. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court
must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In
determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court
applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
See Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir.
2017). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro
se complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are
construed liberally and held to “a less stringent
standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Cesal, 851 F.3d at 720.
caption of the complaint names the following defendants: 1)
Indianapolis Metro. Police Dept. (IMPD); 2) Marion County
Public Defender Agency; 3) Attorney General's Office; 4)
D.O.C. I.Y.C.; and 5) Arnold P. Baratz, attorney at law.
Additional individuals are accused of wrongdoing in the body
of the complaint as well. Mr. Briscoe seeks compensatory
damages and injunctive relief.
Briscoe alleges that he was falsely arrested on February 1,
2016. Charges were filed and he eventually proceeded to
trial. He contends that Officers Craig Solomon and Mathew
Minnis committed perjury on August 17, 2017, when they
testified that they found a gun on him. Mr. Briscoe also
alleges that when a juror asked about cameras in the
officers' squad cars, the officers lied, claiming neither
of them had cameras in their cars. He asserts that this
obstructed justice because the camera would have shown
another suspect fleeing the vehicle Mr. Briscoe was in. He
alleges that the state prosecutor, Kimberly Sexton,
cooperated with the IMPD and his attorney, Arnold Baratz, in
committing fraud. He asserts that the prosecutor should have
dismissed the charges again him. In addition, the prosecutor
and defense counsel excluded all people of color from his
trial in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to an
impartial jury. The Court takes judicial notice from the
Department of Correction website that Mr. Briscoe was
convicted of being a felon with a handgun and resisting law
enforcement in September 2017. The Court also takes judicial
notice that a jury trial was conducted on August 17, 2017, in
that criminal proceeding in Marion Superior Court, No.
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” L.P. v. Marian Catholic High Sch., 852
F.3d 690, 696 (7th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation omitted).
Officers Solomon and Minnis are not listed as defendants in
the caption of the complaint, the Court liberally construes
the officers as intended defendants. Mr. Briscoe's claims
against these officers are that they falsely arrested him and
lied under oath during the trial in his criminal case.
“Probable cause is an absolute defense to claims of
wrongful or false arrest under the Fourth Amendment in
section 1983 suits.” Ewell v. Toney, 853 F.3d
911, 919 (7th Cir. 2017). “In other words, if an
officer has probable cause to arrest a suspect, the arrest
was not false.” Id. Here, the criminal docket
reflects that the court found probable cause on February 4,
2016. Thereafter, Mr. Briscoe was found guilty of the charges
brought against him. Therefore, any claim of false arrest
fails as a matter of law and is dismissed for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
extent Mr. Briscoe has named the IMPD as a defendant, this
claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted because the IMPD is
not a suable entity. Sow v. Fortville Police Dept.,
636 F.3d 293, 300 (7th Cir. 2011) (“[T]he Indiana
statutory scheme does not grant municipal police departments
the capacity to sue or be sued.”).
constitutional claim brought against prosecutor Kimberly
Sexton is barred because she has absolute immunity from suit.
The United States Supreme Court, in Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976), established the
absolute immunity of a prosecutor from a civil suit for
damages under § 1983 “in initiating a prosecution
and in presenting the State's case.” Id.
at 427; see also Fields v. Wharrie, 672 F.3d 505,
510 (7th Cir. 2012) (“A prosecutor is absolutely immune
from suit for all actions and decisions undertaken in
furtherance of his prosecutorial duties.”). Any claim
asserted against Ms. Sexton is dismissed for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Briscoe does not allege any constitutional violation on the
part of the Marion County Public Defender Agency. His claim
against his prior attorney, Arnold P. Baratz, also fails. If
Mr. Baratz acted as a private attorney, he is not a state
actor. See Redwood v. Dobson,476 F.3d 462, 466 (7th
Cir. 2007). Even if Mr. Baratz was a court-appointed public
defender, he is not a state actor, and thus cannot be sued
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Polk County v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981) (“[A] public
defender does not act under color of state law when
performing a lawyer's traditional functions as counsel to