James Barksdale v. Joseph Joyce, et al
Filed Nonprecedential Disposition PER CURIAM. AFFIRMED. The only remaining matter is Barksdale s pending motion asking us to recruit counsel for him on appeal. Because a lawyer could do nothing to overcome the immunity defense that blocks this suit, the motion is DENIED. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 659 (7th Cir. 2007) (en banc). Diane P. Wood, Chief Judge; William J. Bauer, Circuit Judge and Frank H. Easterbrook, Circuit Judge. [6847227-2];. [6865889-1]  [17-1863]
To be cited only in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 32.1
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Submitted August 30, 2017 *
Decided August 31, 2017
DIANE P. WOOD, Chief Judge
WILLIAM J. BAUER, Circuit Judge
FRANK H. EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge
Appeal from the United States District
Court for the Northern District of
Illinois, Eastern Division.
JOSEPH JOYCE, et al.,
No. 16 C 11444
Elaine E. Bucklo,
Invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983, James Barksdale sued a judge, prosecutors, and
witnesses for allegedly violating his right to due process in connection with his
commitment as a sexually violent person. See 725 ILCS 207. The district court dismissed
Barksdale’s suit at screening, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). We affirm because the suit is
blocked by the defendants’ absolute immunity.
The appellees were not served with process in the district court and are not
participating in this appeal. We have agreed to decide this case without oral argument
because the appeal is frivolous. See FED. R. APP. P. 34(a)(2)(A).
The defendants are a state judge, a state’s attorney and assistants state’s attorney,
the Illinois Attorney General and assistants attorney general, and psychologists with the
Illinois Department of Human Services. Barksdale asserts that during judicial
proceedings in 2006, and again in 2016, they lied to avoid releasing him on parole and
to commit him as a sexually violent person to the Rushville Detention and Treatment
Center. In dismissing the complaint, initially without prejudice, the district court
encouraged Barksdale to explore whether he could amend his complaint to overcome
several obstacles: First the state judge and prosecuting attorneys have absolute
immunity. Second monetary damages are likely barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994), which requires that a person like Barksdale who believes that he is
wrongfully in custody must first obtain release from custody before seeking damages.
And third the statute of limitations on some claims had likely run. The district court
gave Barksdale two months to amend his complaint, but when he failed to do so, it
dismissed his lawsuit with prejudice.
On appeal Barksdale repeats the assertions in his complaint, but he has done
nothing to address the obstacle of immunity that the district judge identified. The state
judge and the prosecutors have absolute immunity from suit for acts, like those alleged
here—statements during judicial proceedings—that fall within the scope of their official
duties. See Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 423 (1976) (prosecutors and judges have
absolute immunity because of “concern that harassment by unfounded litigation would
cause a deflection of the prosecutor’s energies from his public duties.”). The immunity
shields them from liability even if those statements are malicious or unreasonable.
See Smith v. Power, 346 F.3d 740, 742 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Henry v. Farmer City State
Bank, 808 F.2d 1228, 1238 (7th Cir. 1986)); Brokaw v. Mercer Cty., 235 F.3d 1000, 1015
(7th Cir. 2000). Witnesses also enjoy absolute immunity for their testimony. The
immunity thus shields the psychologists who testified in support of Barksdale’s
commitment. Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 345–46 (1983).
That is enough to affirm. The only remaining matter is Barksdale’s pending
motion asking us to recruit counsel for him on appeal. Because a lawyer could do
nothing to overcome the immunity defense that blocks this suit, the motion is DENIED.
Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 659 (7th Cir. 2007) (en banc).
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