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Jones v. Taylor

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

January 3, 2020

CATHERINE TAYLOR, et al. Defendants.


          James Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Rufus Jones, an inmate at the Marion County Jail, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his civil rights have been violated. 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(a) to screen his complaint before service on the defendants.

         I. Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis

         The plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis, dkt. [2], is granted. Although the plaintiff is excused from pre-paying the full filing fee, he still must pay the three hundred and fifty dollar ($350.00) filing fee pursuant to the statutory formula set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2) when able. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) (“the prisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing fee.”).

         The assessment of even an initial partial filing fee is waived because the plaintiff has no assets and no means by which to pay a partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). Accordingly, no initial partial filing fee is due at this time.

         II. Dismissal of the Complaint

         A. Screening Standard

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint, or any portion of 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 formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Cesal, 851 F.3d at 720 (citing Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015)).

         B. The Complaint

         Mr. Jones's complaint arises out of his arrest and apparent prosecution on domestic violence charges. He sues his fiancé Catherine Taylor, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”) Officer Corey Shinn, Detective Timothy Westerhof, Marion County Prosecutor Jenna Pilipavich, Public Defender Sherif Mansour, Public Defender paralegal Chesser Dora, Officer J. Zolz, the City of Indianapolis, Core Civic Marion County Jail II, and the State of Indiana.

         Mr. Jones alleges in his complaint that, in April of 2019, Ms. Taylor called the police complaining that Mr. Jones had been calling her and driving by her home. Defendant Officer Corey Shinn arrived on the scene and met with them. Ms. Taylor told Officer Shinn that he had assaulted her. Officer Shinn wrote a police report. Ms. Taylor also told Officer Shinn that she had video evidence of the events, but Officer Shinn did not secure that evidence. Defendant Timothy Westerhof, of the IMPD domestic violence unit, was assigned to follow up. The next day, Ms. Taylor's version of the events changed. Detective Westerhof provided a probable cause affidavit to the prosecutor and eight charges were filed against Mr. Jones. The charges were different than the facts relayed in the original call to the police. Detective Westerhof took items from Ms. Taylor but did not fill out a chain of custody form. He also alleges that, on an unidentified date, Officer J. Zolz arrested him on a warrant that did not have probable cause.

         Mr. Jones also alleges that defendant Chesser Dora, an investigative paralegal with the Marion County Public Defender deleted or attempted to delete evidence in his cellphone and obtained Mr. Jones's property without his authorization. In addition, Mr. Jones asserts that Prosecutor Jeanna Pilipavich never reviewed the case to determine whether there was probable cause to arrest. Mr. Jones further alleges that his public defender, Sherif Mansour, has committed acts of intentional misconduct by conspiring with the state to violate his constitutional rights. He also contends that Core Civic has policies and procedures that were disregarded which resulted in the improper release ...

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