United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON JUDGE
William Boone Cottrell, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Marshall
County Prosecutor's Office and Marshall County Superior
Court #1 because he believes his rights are being violated by
the Honorable Robert Bowen and Prosecutor Joseph Simanski in
a pending criminal case. ECF 1. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, I must review the 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.
the same standard as when deciding a motion to dismiss under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v.
Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive
dismissal, a complaint must state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. Bissessur v. Indiana Univ. Bd. of
Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). “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.” Id. at 603. Nevertheless, a pro
se complaint must be liberally construed “however
inartfully pleaded.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
Honorable Robert Bowen and Prosecutor Joseph Simanski are
immune from suit. “[I]n 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). Similarly,
“[a] judge has absolute immunity for any judicial
actions unless the judge acted in absence of all
jurisdiction.” Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834,
838 (7th Cir. 2011). “A judge will not be deprived of
immunity because the action he took was in error, was done
maliciously, or was in excess of his authority; rather, he
will be subject to liability only when he has acted in the
clear absence of all jurisdiction.” Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359 (1978). This legal authority
requires a conclusion that Bowen and Simanski are themselves
immune from liability to Cottrell in this action.
Cottrell has not sued Judge Bowen or Prosecutor Simanski
directly. He has instead sued the offices where they are
employed. Such claims are foreclosed because there is no
general respondeat superior liability under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Chavez v. Illinois State Police,
251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001). Furthermore, local
government liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is dependent
on an analysis of state law, and under Indiana law a superior
court is not an entity that has the capacity to sue or be
sued. See Ind. Code § 36-1-2-10; Sow v.
Fortville Police Dep't, 636 F.3d 293, 300 (7th Cir.
2011). Similarly, the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office
is an arm of the state and therefore entitled to immunity.
See Hendricks v. New Albany Police Dep't, No.
4:08-CV-0180-TWP-WGH, 2010 WL 4025633, at *3 (S.D. Ind. Oct.
13, 2010)(“[S]uing the Prosecutor's Office-a state
agency-is akin to suing the State of Indiana itself. Thus,
the doctrine of sovereign immunity precludes Plaintiff's
it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the opportunity
to file an amended complaint when a case is dismissed sua
sponte, see Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014
(7th Cir. 2013), that is unnecessary where the amendment
would be futile. Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs., 588
F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[C]ourts have broad
discretion to deny leave to amend where . . . the amendment
would be futile.”). Such is the case here. Therefore, I
must dismiss this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
because it does not state a claim upon which relief could be
court DISMISSES this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A because the ...