Edwards et al v. Jolliff-Blake et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order. The Court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment 253 and denies plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment 264 . Civil case terminated. Signed by the Honorable Jorge L. Alonso on 3/27/2017. Notice mailed by judge's staff (ntf, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
NELSON D. EDWARDS, SHERRI L.
EDWARDS, SHAWNA A. WALKER,
Minor, by Parent, SHAWNA F.
MICHAEL JOLIFF-BLAKE, ARTURO
V. BRACHO, ANDREW J. BELUSO,
CARLOS A. SANCHEZ, ALEJANDRO
LAGUNAS, SHERRY L. BUCKNER,
ANTONIO HERRERA, MICHAEL A.
CANTORE, RICO L. CARTER,
DARIUS J. REED, EDWARD J. SULLINS, )
NEIL J. SKIPPER, UNKNOWN
OFFICERS OF THE CHICAGO POLICE )
DEPARTMENT, and CITY OF CHICAGO, )
No. 13 C 4558
Judge Jorge L. Alonso
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Nelson Edwards, Sherri Edwards, Shawna Walker, and Shawna Edwards have
brought this lawsuit against defendants, Officer Michael Joliff-Blake, numerous other Chicago
police officers, and the City of Chicago, for violating their civil rights by procuring and
executing a warrant to search their home without probable cause. The parties have filed crossmotions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendants’ motion is granted,
and plaintiffs’ motion is denied.
Plaintiff Nelson Edwards, a retiree, owns a house at 827 South Keeler Avenue in
Chicago, where he lives with plaintiffs Sherri Edwards, Shawna Edwards, and Shawna Walker,
his daughters and granddaughter. On June 20, 2012, a number of Chicago police officers entered
and searched the home for drugs pursuant to a search warrant. The warrant was based on
information received from a confidential informant, who had reported purchasing drugs in that
house from a man known to him as Fred, later further identified as Freddy Sutton. The officers
searched the house for an hour and a half or more, detaining Shawna Edwards and Shawna
Walker in the living room and preventing Nelson Edwards and Sherri Edwards from entering the
house while they searched, even physically restraining Nelson Edwards when he tried to rush
past them into the house. The officers found no illicit drugs, nor did they find Freddy Sutton; the
plaintiffs informed the officers that he had never resided there, and they claimed not to know
him. According to the declaration he submitted in this case, Freddy Sutton lived at 3938 West
Lexington Street, nearly half a mile from 827 South Keeler, and he had known Nelson
Edwards’s son when they were children, but he was otherwise unacquainted with the Edwards
family. (Decl. Frederick Sutton, Pls.’ 56.1(a)(3) Stmt., Ex. 8, ECF No. 259-8.)
Defendant Officer Michael Joliff-Blake obtained the warrant to search the premises at
827 South Keeler after meeting with the confidential informant, whom he referred to as “J. Doe,”
at the police station on June 16, 2012. J. Doe told Officer Joliff-Blake that he had purchased
heroin from Fred in the house at 827 South Keeler that morning. Officer Joliff-Blake prepared a
“Complaint for Search Warrant” in which he related J. Doe’s account of the transaction as
J. Doe stated that for approximately the past two months, J. Doe has on
numerous times, obtained heroin from a male known to J. Doe as Fred (n.k.a. [sic]
Freddy Sutton)-described by J. Doe as a male, black, 6’02”, 215 lbs., black hair,
brown eyes, who resides at 827 S. Keeler, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. J. Doe
stated that Fred conducts his narcotics operations from the basement of the
residence located at 827 S. Keeler.
J. Doe walked into the yard of the residence to the back door. J. Doe
knocked on the back door and Fred opened the door and invited J. Doe into the
residence, into the basement. J. Doe then asked Fred for 3 bags of ‘blow.’ (Blow
being street terminology for a small quantity of heroin). While continuing to
wait, Fred relocated to the upstairs of the residence and return [sic] with a large
plastic bag containing over 100 ziplock baggies containing white powder-heroin.
Fred reached in the large plastic bag and removed 3 ziplock baggies and gave
them to J. Doe and in return tendered $30.00usc [sic] ($10.00 per ziplock baggies)
[sic]. J. Doe inspected the 3 small baggies and found them to be packaged in the
same manner as prior purchases and contained the same amount of heroin inside.
J. Doe then exited the residence and on the way out Fred called out “Anytime you
need anything, bro, come by, I got what you need night and day.” J. Doe then left
the residence and after finding a safe place to hide, ingested the above mentioned
heroin using intravenous method. J. Doe then related the euphoric experience was
similar to past experience and that the quality of the heroin was exceptional. J.
Doe further related that he/she has been using heroin for over 2 years. J. Doe
further related that the amount and quality of the heroin is exceptional for the
(Compl. for Search Warrant, Parties’ Stmt. Undisputed Material Facts, Joint Exs., Ex. B, ECF
No. 257-2.) According to the Complaint for Search Warrant, Officer Joliff-Blake showed J. Doe
a photo of the residence at 827 South Keeler, which he found on the Cook County Assessor’s
Office website, and J. Doe identified the residence in the photo as the residence where he
purchased the heroin from Fred. (Id.) Additionally, Officer Joliff-Blake stated that he and J.
Doe had “relocated” to 827 South Keeler, and J. Doe pointed at the residence at that address to
identify it as the building in which he had purchased heroin from Fred. (Id.) Officer Joliff-Blake
also stated in the Complaint for Search Warrant that he had used a Chicago Police Department
database to obtain a photograph of a man named Freddy Sutton, and J. Doe identified the man as
the same Fred who had sold him the heroin that morning. (Id.)
At his deposition in this case, years after the search of the Edwards residence, Officer
Joliff-Blake elaborated on some of the details of the investigation described in the Complaint for
Search Warrant. He explained that J. Doe told him that he purchased heroin from Fred at a twostory residence near the corner of Arthington and Keeler. (Id., Ex. G-1, at 117:23-18:4, ECF No.
257-7.) Based on J. Doe’s description, Officer Joliff-Blake pulled from the Cook County
Assessor’s website the picture of the house at 827 South Keeler, which lies on the northeast
corner of Arthington and Keeler (id., Ex. G-1, at 161:17-62:16), and J. Doe identified the house
in the picture as the one where he had purchased heroin from Fred. Later that day, Officer JoliffBlake drove J. Doe past the house twice, going in a different direction each time, and both times
J. Doe pointed at 827 South Keeler and identified it as the house where he had purchased heroin
from Fred. (Id., Ex. G-1, at 206:7-07:25.)
Additionally, Officer Joliff-Blake explained at his deposition that J. Doe had not known
Fred’s last name. (Id., Ex. G-1, at 117:5-22.) To determine exactly who “Fred” was, Officer
Joliff-Blake used police databases to search for people named Fred who had been arrested by
officers working beat number 1132, the beat covering the area of Arthington and Keeler, or who
were known to live in that area.
(Id., Ex. G-1, at 142:3-44:25.)
The query returned
approximately ten Freds. (Id., Ex. G-1, at 145:1-9.) Officer Joliff-Blake narrowed them down
by checking them against the description J. Doe had provided and assembled a photo array of
about six photos, including the photo of Freddy Sutton. (Id., Ex. G-1, at 145:24-46:25.) He
showed the photo array to J. Doe, who identified Freddy Sutton as the “Fred” who had sold him
(Id., Ex. G-1, at 142:3-46:18-19.)
After drafting the Complaint for Search Warrant based on the June 16, 2012 meeting with
J. Doe, Officer Joliff-Blake sought approval of the Complaint for Search Warrant from a
supervisor, Lieutenant Skipper, and an assistant state’s attorney, both of whom signed off on the
Complaint for Search Warrant by affixing their names and the date and time. The next day,
Officer Joliff-Blake presented the Complaint for Search Warrant and a draft search warrant to
Judge Gloria Chevere of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Officer Joliff-Blake also presented
the J. Doe informant and a record of his criminal history (id., Ex. G-1, at 220:8-11; id., Ex. B, at
2), which included arrests for panhandling in a prohibited manner and identity theft for using his
mother’s debit card at ATMs without her permission (Pls.’ LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 11, ECF No.
263). Judge Chevere swore in J. Doe and questioned him, although the record does not reveal
what she asked him. (See Parties’ Stmt. Undisputed Material Facts, Joint Exs., Ex. G-1, at
222:6-23:12, see also id., Ex. S-1, 39:1-2, ECF No. 268-1.)
Plaintiffs subsequently brought this lawsuit against the City of Chicago and the police
officers who were involved in procuring and executing the warrant, claiming that defendants
violated their Fourth Amendment rights by procuring and executing a search warrant that was
unsupported by probable cause. The complaint consists of ten counts 1: Count I, procuring a
warrant to search plaintiffs’ home based on unreliable information and misrepresentation; Count
II, entering plaintiffs’ home without a valid warrant or probable cause; Count III, searching
plaintiffs’ home without a valid warrant or probable cause; Count IV, seizing and detaining
plaintiffs without a valid warrant or probable cause; Count V, using excessive force to detain
Nelson Edwards and Shawna Walker; Count VI, battery under Illinois law; Count VII,
supervisory liability against Sergeant Sullins, the police officer in charge of the execution of the
warrant at 827 South Keeler; Count VIII, supervisory liability against Lieutenant Skipper, the
police officer who approved Officer Joliff-Blake’s Complaint for Search Warrant before he
presented it to Judge Chevere; Count IX, for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights by
failing to intervene to stop unconstitutional conduct; and Count X, against the City of Chicago
for indemnification of the individual defendants. (3d Am. Compl., ECF No. 187.)
The parties have each filed motions for summary judgment. Defendants seek judgment
This Court previously dismissed Count XI, the Monell claim against the City of Chicago. (See Mem. Op. & Order,
ECF No. 217.)
on all counts; plaintiffs contend that there are genuine, material factual disputes on Counts V, VI
and X, so they seek judgment only on Counts I-IV, VII, VIII and IX, and only on liability. “The
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). In considering such a motion, the Court construes the evidence and all inferences that
reasonably can be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See
Kvapil v. Chippewa Cty., Wis., 752 F.3d 708, 712 (7th Cir. 2014). “Summary judgment should
be denied if the dispute is ‘genuine’: ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.’” Talanda v. KFC Nat’l Mgmt. Co., 140 F.3d 1090, 1095 (7th
Cir. 1998) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)); see Bunn v.
Khoury Enters., Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2014). The court will enter summary
judgment against a party who does not “come forward with evidence that would reasonably
permit the finder of fact to find in [its] favor on a material question.” Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712
F.3d 1166, 1167 (7th Cir. 2013).
Plaintiffs bring this civil suit against defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
creates a cause of action against any person who, under color of state law, “subjects, or causes to
be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” Id. Plaintiffs’ claims are rooted in the Fourth
Amendment, which guarantees that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and
no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” U.S. Const. amend. IV.
“Probable cause is established when, based on the totality of the circumstances, the
affidavit sets forth sufficient evidence to induce a reasonably prudent person to believe that a
search will uncover evidence of a crime.” United States v. Peck, 317 F.3d 754, 756 (7th Cir.
2003). A judge’s decision to issue a warrant based on her determination that there is probable
cause is entitled to “great deference.” United States v. Carson, 582 F.3d 827, 831 (7th Cir.
2009). “The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, common-sense decision
whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the veracity
and basis of knowledge of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that
contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S.
213, 238 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted). When the information in the affidavit has
been provided by an informant, whether the information is sufficiently reliable to support a
determination of probable cause depends on factors such as whether the information is based on
“ the personal observations of the confidential informant (“CI”),  the degree of detail given
in the affidavit,  independent police corroboration of the information,  the interval of time
between the events and application for a warrant, and  whether the informant testified at the
probable cause hearing.” Peck, 317 F.3d at 756. None of these factors is determinative by itself;
“a deficiency in one factor may be compensated for by a strong showing in another or by some
other indication of reliability.” Id. (citing United States v. Brack, 188 F.3d 748, 756 (7th Cir.
VALIDITY OF WARRANT
Plaintiffs contend that the search warrant was invalid because it is clear on the face of the
Complaint for Search Warrant that there was no probable cause to search the house at 827 South
Keeler. According to plaintiffs, the Complaint for Search Warrant suffered from a number of
deficiencies: (1) it does not establish J. Doe’s reliability, omitting to state even conclusorily that
he had provided reliable information to police in the past or was otherwise known to be reliable;
(2) it does not explain how Officer Joliff-Blake, the complaining officer, determined that “Fred”
was Freddy Sutton by assembling a photo array and showing it to J. Doe; (3) it does not explain
how Officer Joliff-Blake connected the house J. Doe described to the house at 827 South Keeler
by pulling the picture of the house from the Cook County Assessor’s website and showing it to J.
Doe; (4) it provides no motive for J. Doe to testify against Fred; and (5) it contains no facts
independently corroborating that criminal activity was taking place at 827 South Keeler.
Defendants respond that plaintiffs have mischaracterized the contents of the Complaint
for Search Warrant and that case law establishes that the facts in the Complaint for Search
Warrant were sufficient to support a determination of probable cause in the totality of the
circumstances. The Court agrees.
First, while plaintiffs are correct that the Complaint for Search Warrant contains no
statement to the effect that J. Doe is known to be reliable because he has provided reliable
information in other cases, there is no need for the Complaint for Search Warrant to contain any
such statement. In the absence of any record of past reliability, an issuing magistrate must
simply assume that the police have not worked with this informant before, which does not
necessarily mean that his information is unreliable. See United States v. Koerth, 312 F.3d 862,
867-68 (7th Cir. 2002) (“Statements from an informant of unknown reliability may in certain
instances serve to establish probable cause if, under the totality of the circumstances, a
reasonable person might consider that the statements are worthy of credence.”); Guzman v. City
of Chi., 565 F.3d 393, 396 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[Plaintiff] argues that [the officers] should have . . .
told the judge that this was the first time Doe had provided information so they were limited in
their assessment of his reliability. We doubt that would have made a difference. At the
beginning of his work with the police, every informant necessarily provides information for the
first time.”). An informant’s tip may carry other indicia of reliability, such as a basis in firsthand knowledge and the inclusion of specific, granular details. See United States v. Lloyd, 71
F.3d 1256, 1263 (7th Cir. 1995); see also United States v. Mullins, 803 F.3d 858, 863 (7th Cir.
2015) (comparing Lloyd, in which the confidential informant provided a detailed tip based on
first-hand knowledge and officers were able to independently verify some of the details, with
Peck, in which the tip was insufficiently detailed because the informant merely reported that she
had been in the target’s house and was shown a substance she thought was an illicit drug and
there was no independent verification). Additionally, an informant’s tip is more reliable if it
provides information that is against the informant’s own penal interest. See Peck, 317 F.3d at
756-57 (citing United States v. Johnson, 289 F.3d 1034, 1036 (7th Cir. 2002), and United States
v. Jones, 208 F.3d 603, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (in both cases, informants’ statements that they knew
the substances at issue were illicit drugs were reliable because, against their own penal interests,
they admitted that they had personal experience buying and selling large quantities of drugs)). In
this case, J. Doe stated that he had first-hand knowledge that Fred was selling heroin, having
personally purchased heroin from Fred and used it one day before he appeared before a judge
and swore that his detailed account of the transaction was truthful. Further, the police had
corroborated at least some details, as the Court will discuss more thoroughly below. There were
substantial indicia of reliability, even without a statement that J. Doe was known by Officer
Joliff-Blake to be credible and reliable.
Plaintiff makes much of the fact that the Complaint for Search Warrant did not describe
how Officer Joliff-Blake used a photo array to determine that “Fred” was Freddy Sutton or how
he showed J. Doe a picture of the house at 827 South Keeler to identify it as the house at the
corner of Arthington and Keeler where J. Doe purchased heroin. But the Court fails to see why
the Complaint for Search Warrant was required to contain such descriptions in order for the
warrant to be facially valid. The Complaint for Search Warrant suggests that these details came
from J. Doe, which they did. J. Doe provided a detailed, first-hand account of a recent narcotics
transaction in which he participated; there is nothing unreasonable on its face about the
Complaint for Search Warrant merely because it states that J. Doe was able to identify the heroin
dealer with whom he personally interacted and the house in which he purchased heroin from
This is particularly true because J. Doe’s account was at least “minimally” corroborated.
See United States v. Glover, 755 F.3d 811, 817 (7th Cir. 2014). Plaintiffs insist that there was no
corroboration because the police never obtained an independent source for any of the
information J. Doe provided; merely driving past the house at 827 South Keeler to confirm that it
was the one J. Doe had already identified, or showing J. Doe a photo array of Freds to determine
whether he purchased heroin from any of them, “sheds little light on the central question whether
[heroin] was being trafficked at the premises” located at 827 South Keeler because J. Doe
remains the only source of information. See United States v. Robinson, 724 F.3d 878, 885 (7th
Cir. 2013). Plaintiffs are correct that corroboration of only innocent facts does little to support
the accusation of wrongdoing, id., but they ignore the fact that it helps with the “important” task
of ensuring “accuracy on these innocent facts.” United States v. Dismuke, 593 F.3d 582, 588
(7th Cir. 2010) abrogated on other grounds as recognized by Glover, 755 F.3d at 817. Driving
past the targeted house with the J. Doe, after he had already identified a photo of the house,
provided Officer Joliff-Blake with “at least some limited amount of additional information”
because it confirmed that there really is a house at 827 South Keeler (rather than, for example, a
“delicatessen,” Dismuke, 593 F.3d at 884), that it is the same house pictured in the Cook County
Assessor’s office photo, and that J. Doe still believed it was the house in which he had purchased
the heroin even as he changed his perspective by viewing it in person from the surrounding
streets, rather than in a photo. As for the identification of Freddy Sutton as “Fred,” while
plaintiffs are correct that this too does nothing to corroborate illegal drug activity at 827 South
Keeler, it at least confirms that police were independently aware of a person named Fred who
lived in the neighborhood. These facts added, at least marginally, to the reliability of J. Doe’s
Adding more substantially to the reliability of J. Doe’s account is that he accompanied
Officer Joliff-Blake to present the Complaint for Search Warrant to Judge Chevere, which
“[gave] the issuing [judge] an opportunity ‘to evaluate the informant’s knowledge, demeanor,
and sincerity.’” Robinson, 724 F.3d at 884 (quoting United States v. Sims, 551 F.3d 640, 644
(7th Cir. 2008)). Plaintiffs argue, based on Glover, 755 F.3d at 817-18, that this fact “bolsters
the reliability” of the Complaint for Search Warrant only “slightly,” if at all, because there is no
record of any testimony before Judge Chevere, and “[w]ithout any record we must assume that
Doe did not testify.” But plaintiffs read too much into Glover in this respect. In Glover, the
John Doe informant appeared before the issuing judge and signed the affidavit, but it was unclear
whether the issuing judge asked any questions of the confidential informant at all, see United
States v. Glover, No. 10 CR 981, 2013 WL 788081, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 1, 2013) (“We have no
evidence one way or the other as to whether Judge Skryd asked any questions of Doe.”), rev’d,
755 F.3d 811 (7th Cir. 2014). More importantly, the applicant officer in Glover completely
omitted to provide “known, highly relevant, and damaging information about Doe’s credibility—
his criminal record, especially while serving as an informant; his gang activity; his prior use of
aliases to deceive police; and his expectation of payment.” 755 F.3d at 817. In this case, both J.
Doe and Officer Joliff-Blake testified that Judge Chevere did ask J. Doe questions. (Parties’
Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts, Joint Ex. G-1, at 222:6-23:12; id., Ex. S-1, 39:1-2, ECF No.
268-1.) Officer Joliff-Blake did not have information about J. Doe’s background as damaging as
the information the applicant officer had in Glover, and, as the Court will discuss in more detail
below, Officer Joliff-Blake disclosed to Judge Chevere whatever information he had.
presented J. Doe’s criminal history to Judge Chevere along with the Complaint for Search
Warrant, 2 and the Complaint for Search Warrant itself described in detail J. Doe’s commission of
a crime by purchasing and using heroin.
For these reasons, the Court finds this case less similar to Glover than to Lloyd, in which
the Seventh Circuit “recognize[d] that when a [confidential informant] accompanies the officer
and is available to give testimony before the judge issuing the warrant, his presence adds to the
reliability of the information used to obtain the warrant, because it provides the judge with an
opportunity to ‘assess the informant's credibility and allay any concerns [s]he might have had
about the veracity of the informant's statements.’” 71 F.3d at 1263 (quoting United States v.
Causey, 9 F.3d 1341, 1343 (7th Cir. 1993)). In Lloyd, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the trial
judge that the issuing judge “obviously found the CI to be credible and the information to be
reliable,” and “[s]uch findings are entitled to deference on review.” Id.
Plaintiffs also argue that the warrant was invalid because the Complaint for Search
Warrant does not address J. Doe’s motive to cooperate with police, and while a motive may be
useful in evaluating the reliability of an informant’s testimony, the issuing judge need not have
evidence of the motive if the account is otherwise reliable. See Gates, 462 U.S. at 234 (“[E]ven
Plaintiffs purport to deny that Officer Joliff-Blake presented J. Doe’s criminal history to the issuing judge, but they
cite no evidence. (Pls.’ LR 56.1 Resp. ¶ 16, ECF No. 288.) This bare denial is insufficient to demonstrate a genuine
factual dispute at the summary judgment stage.
if we entertain some doubt as to an informant’s motives, his explicit and detailed description of
alleged wrongdoing, along with a statement that the event was observed first-hand, entitles his
tip to greater weight than might otherwise be the case.”).
Weighing the five factors the Seventh Circuit uses to assess whether an informant’s tip is
sufficiently reliable to provide probable cause, see Peck, 317 F.3d at 756, all but one supports the
issuing judge’s conclusion that there was probable cause for the warrant. J. Doe acquired the
information based on firsthand observations; he described the drug transaction in detail; the drug
transaction he described took place only one day before Officer Joliff-Blake presented the
Complaint for Search Warrant to the issuing judge; and J. Doe appeared before the issuing judge
and answered her questions. The only factor weighing against probable cause is that the police
only minimally corroborated J. Doe’s account of the transaction in innocent details; they verified
some innocent facts, but the only source of facts concerning drug activity at 827 South Keeler
was J. Doe himself. But in that respect this case is similar to Dismuke, in which the Seventh
Circuit concluded, although it was a “close case,” that the affidavit was “just barely” sufficient to
establish probable cause. 593 F.3d at 588; cf. United States v. Bell, 585 F.3d 1045, 1050 (7th Cir.
2009) (sparsely detailed affidavit did not support probable cause in part because, unlike in this
case, it did not reveal “how [the informant] and [the target] knew each other or what [the
informant] was doing in [the target’s] apartment”); Koerth, 312 F.3d at 867-68 (sparsely detailed
affidavit did not support probable cause in part because, unlike in this case, the informant did not
appear before the issuing judge).
Glover may seem to have similar facts, but that case is distinguishable 3 because, unlike
Plaintiffs also rely heavily on Robinson, but that case is even less apposite: in Robinson, the Seventh Circuit did
not rule at all on whether the warrant was validly supported by probable cause, instead ruling that, even if not, the
good-faith exception applied. 724 F.3d at 885.
the applicant officer in that case, Officer Joliff-Blake did not hide J. Doe’s criminal history. See
Jones v. City of Chi., No. 14 C 4023, 2016 WL 1730647, at *4 (N.D. Ill. May 2, 2016); United
States v. Hawthorne, No. 13 CR 772-19, 2014 WL 5461074, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 2, 2014) (both
distinguishing Glover on the same basis). In this case, the issuing judge had a fair opportunity to
evaluate J. Doe’s credibility and the reliability of his information, and under those circumstances,
her conclusion that there was probable cause to support the warrant in this case is entitled to
deference. The Court agrees that her decision was correct. The warrant was not invalid for lack
of probable cause.
Even if there were some deficiency in the warrant or Complaint for Search Warrant,
Officer Joliff-Blake and the other defendants would still not be liable if they are entitled to
The Seventh Circuit has explained that “an officer who relies on a
subsequently invalidated warrant may be liable for § 1983 damages only if the warrant
application was ‘so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence
unreasonable.’” Junkert v. Massey, 610 F.3d 364, 369 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Malley v. Briggs,
475 U.S. 335, 344-45 (1986)). The standard is adopted from, and similar to, the standard for the
good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule set forth in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897
(1984). A warrant application violates this standard only if “(1) courts have clearly held that a
materially similar affidavit previously failed to establish probable cause under facts that were
indistinguishable from those presented in the case at hand; or (2) the affidavit is so plainly
deficient that any reasonably well-trained officer ‘would have known that his affidavit failed to
establish probable cause and that he should not have applied for the warrant.’” Koerth, 312 F.3d
at 869 (quoting Malley, 475 U.S. at 345); see also Junkert, 610 F.3d at 369 (quoting the same
A. Have Courts Held a Materially Similar Affidavit Insufficient?
Courts have not clearly held that a materially similar affidavit failed to establish probable
cause under facts that were indistinguishable from those of this case. The closest case plaintiffs
have identified is Glover, but as the Court has explained, that case turned on the fact that the
applicant officer omitted to inform the issuing judge of the informant’s criminal history and
related information damaging to his credibility. 755 F.3d at 817. In this case, Officer JoliffBlake did not neglect to provide Judge Chevere with J. Doe’s criminal history, 4 the Complaint
for Search Warrant itself contained evidence of J. Doe’s criminal conduct, and, as the Court will
discuss in more detail below, Officer Joliff-Blake did not withhold information damaging to J.
Doe’s credibility. This case is distinguishable from Glover. Defendants meet the standard for
qualified immunity on the first prong.
B. Would a Reasonably Well-Trained Officer Have Known There Was No
On the second prong of the test for qualified immunity, the Court has already explained
that the warrant was not plainly deficient on its face, but plaintiffs argue that defendants are not
entitled to qualified immunity because Officer Joliff-Blake “knowingly or intentionally or with a
reckless disregard for the truth made false statements” or misleading omissions in applying for
the search warrant, and the false statements or omissions were necessary to the issuing judge’s
determination that there was probable cause to search plaintiffs’ home. See Suarez v. Town of
Ogden Dunes, 581 F.3d 591, 596 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Molina ex rel. Molina v. Cooper, 325
F.3d 963, 968 (7th Cir.2003)); see also Beauchamp v. City of Noblesville, 320 F.3d 733, 742-43
(7th Cir. 2003) (citing Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 155-56 (1978)). In their briefs,
See supra note 2.
plaintiffs recite a litany of purported omissions in long, single-spaced lists of approximately
twenty paragraphs stretching across more than two pages. (Pls.’ Mem. Supp. Pls.’ Mot. Partial
Summ. J. at 9-12, ECF No. 269; Pls.’ Mem. Resp. Opp’n Defs.’ Mot. Summ. J., at 9-11, ECF
No. 287.) Defendants argue that all of these omissions are either immaterial to the probable
cause determination or illusory because Officer Joliff-Blake actually did disclose the allegedly
omitted information. The Court agrees with defendants.
One category of these omissions relates to Officer Joliff-Blake’s failure to state that J.
Doe was a first-time informant. But Officer Joliff-Blake was not required to specifically state
that J. Doe had never worked with police before. Because the Complaint for Search Warrant was
silent on the matter of J. Doe’s track record, Judge Chevere was required to assume that J. Doe
had none, which was the truth. See Koerth, 312 F.3d at 867-68. Plaintiffs also suggest that
Officer Joliff-Blake hid facts concerning J. Doe’s criminal background and history of drug use
that would have been useful to Judge Chevere in evaluating J. Doe’s credibility and reliability.
But the Complaint for Search Warrant belies this contention because it states that J. Doe had
been using heroin for over two years, long enough to know that Fred’s heroin was “exceptional
for the price,” and that he had bought heroin from Fred “numerous times” over the two months
leading up to the June 16, 2012 transaction.
(Compl. for Search Warrant, Parties’ Stmt.
Undisputed Material Facts, Joint Exs., Ex. B, ECF No. 257-2.) He presented J. Doe’s criminal
history to Judge Chevere. (Id., Ex. G-1, at 220:8-11; id., Ex. B, at 2.) Most importantly, he
presented J. Doe himself to Judge Chevere so she could observe J. Doe’s demeanor to assist her
evaluation of whether he was providing reliable information. 5
Plaintiffs also make much of what they claim is J. Doe’s poor mental health as exhibited by his occasionally
bizarre conduct at his deposition, which required three tries to complete. But J. Doe’s conduct at a deposition years
later provides little insight into how he behaved before Officer Joliff-Blake and Judge Chevere in June 2012.
Another category of omissions relates to Freddy Sutton, the house at 827 South Keeler,
and Officer Joliff-Blake’s process of using police and internet records to help J. Doe identify
them. But as the Court explained above, Officer Joliff-Blake was not required to explain this
identification process in greater detail because the end result is that J. Doe identified Freddy
Sutton and the house at 827 South Keeler, just as the Complaint for Search Warrant suggests.
Plaintiffs cite no evidence to suggest that Officer Joliff-Blake had any reason, at the time he
appeared before Judge Chevere, to believe that J. Doe was somehow mistaken or uncertain about
which house he had entered to purchase heroin earlier that very day, nor does the Court see why
Officer Joliff-Blake should have been overly suspicious about it, given the fact that J. Doe
claimed to be a habitual drug user who had bought drugs in this area for months. An officer
might reasonably expect a person with a drug habit to be easily able to find and identify the
house where he had purchased drugs. Even years later at his deposition, although he could not
remember the precise address, J. Doe was adamant that he had purchased drugs at the house he
had indicated at the corner of Arthington and “a K- street,” the house with the “dog pens.” (Id.,
Ex. S-5, 167:16-21, ECF No. 268-5.) Plaintiff Nelson Edwards admitted at his deposition that he
had (and still has) a dog kennel behind his house for his hunting dogs. (Id., Ex. C, at 27:25-28:5,
ECF No. 257-3.) It remains unclear exactly where the mistake, misunderstanding, or deception
lies in this case, but the evidence does not support the inference that Officer Joliff-Blake
intentionally or recklessly hid any suspicion or reason for suspicion that J. Doe had misidentified
the person and place involved in the drug transaction. 6
Plaintiffs make much of the fact that Officer Joliff-Blake might have noticed from the
This is particularly true with respect to the house because Officer Joliff-Blake not only used the Cook County
Assessor’s photograph to help identify it but also drove J. Doe past the house to verify the identification, as he
described in the Complaint for Search Warrant.
Cook County Assessor’s website or other readily available records that Freddy Sutton was not
the owner of record at 827 South Keeler and, in fact, Freddy Sutton’s arrest records showed an
address at 3938 West Lexington Street, not 827 South Keeler. But noticing these facts would not
have proved that Sutton did not “reside” at 827 South Keeler Avenue on June 16, 2012 (see id.,
Ex. B), or, more importantly, that he was not selling drugs out of the house, and in any case it is
“what the police know, not whether they know the truth, that matters” for purposes of probable
cause. London v. Guzman, 26 F. Supp. 3d 746, 754 (N.D. Ill. 2014) (citing Sheik-Abdi v.
McClellan, 37 F.3d 1240, 1247 (7th Cir. 1994)); see Jones, 2016 WL 1730647, at *4 (“Plaintiff
does not explain how the validity of the search warrant hinges on where [the target of the search
warrant] lived at the time of the drug transactions.”). J. Doe told Officer Joliff-Blake that he
knew from personal experience as a heroin user that Fred was selling heroin out of the house at
827 South Keeler, J. Doe identified Fred as Freddy Sutton, and Freddy Sutton was known to live
in the neighborhood; these facts validly supported Officer Joliff-Blake’s belief (and ultimately,
Judge Chevere’s conclusion) that there was probable cause to search 827 South Keeler for
Freddy Sutton’s heroin.
Another category of omissions consists of things Officer Joliff-Blake did not do to
corroborate the facts recounted in the Complaint for Search Warrant. Plaintiffs do not cite
authority for the proposition that Officer Joliff-Blake was required to tell the issuing judge what
he did not know, and the Court declines to recognize any such duty, which would be unlimited.
See United States v. Johnson, 580 F.3d 666, 671 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Even if the police’s failure to
corroborate the informant’s claims was negligent, ‘a little negligence—actually even a lot of
negligence—does not the need for a Franks hearing make.’”) (quoting United States v. Swanson,
210 F.3d 788, 791 (7th Cir. 2000)). Officer Joliff-Blake was not required to make every
conceivable effort to disprove the informant’s tip before he sought a warrant. He was entitled to
apply for a warrant if the facts as he reasonably understood them would justify a reasonably
prudent person in believing, in the totality of the circumstances, that a search of 827 South
Keeler was likely to uncover evidence of a crime. Plaintiffs have not pointed to any facts known
to Officer Joliff-Blake when he applied for the warrant on June 17, 2012, but hidden from the
issuing judge, that affirmatively suggest that J. Doe’s story of purchasing heroin from Freddy
Sutton at 827 South Keeler was unreliable or incorrect. The issuing judge found that there was
probable cause for the search in the totality of the circumstances, and this Court agrees. The
facts that plaintiffs claim that he intentionally or recklessly omitted to tell the issuing judge are
immaterial to the determination of probable cause.
Even if there were a genuine issue of material fact with respect to probable cause,
defendants would still be entitled to qualified immunity with respect to procuring the warrant.
CONDUCT DURING THE SEARCH
Plaintiffs contend that defendants’ conduct was unreasonable during the search of their
home. According to plaintiffs, defendants should have realized immediately upon entering the
house at 827 South Keeler that the house J. Doe had described as the site of his heroin
transaction bore little resemblance to the house they had entered. Further, plaintiffs argue that
defendants should not have persisted with the search for nearly two hours (there is some dispute
about exactly how long the search took, but by all accounts it took no more than two hours) and
they should not have detained plaintiffs during the search.
The Court agrees with defendants that the search was reasonable. Plaintiffs do not claim
that their house or their belongings were damaged during the search. (Pls.’ LR 56.1 Resp. ¶ 36.)
They claim that they were improperly detained, but officers executing a search warrant are
permitted to detain the occupants of a house while the search is ongoing. See Michigan v.
Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 704-05 (1981).
Plaintiffs contend that the officers should have immediately noticed that they were
searching a “family home,” not a “drug house,” and that there are discrepancies between J. Doe’s
description and the actual appearance of the house that should have indicated that the officers
had made a mistake and induced them to call off the search. But plaintiffs have not explained
why a “family home” cannot also be a “drug house,” nor have they pointed to any glaring
discrepancies or other clear indications that the officers were obviously in the wrong house.
Plaintiffs contend that (a) the gate to the backyard was locked with a padlock, which conflicts
with J. Doe’s story that he entered the backyard through the back gate—but the Complaint for
Search Warrant did not explicitly say that J. Doe came through the back gate, and in any case the
padlock could easily have been put on the gate in the four days between Officer Joliff-Blake’s
interview with J. Doe and the execution of the warrant; (b) there was no back door leading to a
basement—but the Complaint for Search Warrant did not explicitly say that the back door led
directly to a basement, and in any case, because 827 South Keeler is a block-like structure
situated on a street corner, the record is consistently confused about which door to call the back,
front or side door, so this fact would not have likely raised a concern; and (c) the basement was a
“small, cramped, cluttered storage area, not a site to run a drug operation”—but J. Doe said only
that he was brought into the basement to wait while Fred went to retrieve the heroin, not that the
basement was spacious or uncluttered. (See Defs. LR 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 75-76.)
Further, plaintiffs do not substantively deny that the officers’ police canine “alerted,” or
indicated that it had caught the scent of narcotics, once inside the house. (See Pls.’ LR 56.1
Resp. ¶ 34 (objecting to any “improper inference” that the reason the police canine “alerted” was
because there was contraband in the house, without denying the substance of the fact or citing to
Plaintiffs suggest in their reply brief that this alert may have been due to
prescription narcotics in the home, but the officers executing a valid search warrant based on
evidence of illicit drug transactions were not required to conclude from the fact that there were
lawful prescription narcotics in the house that there were not also illicit narcotics in the house.
The officers searched the house for two hours at most, which is not outside the bounds of
reasonableness, see Muehler v. Mena, 544 U.S. 93, 100 (2005) (detention during search lasting
two to three hours not unreasonable), especially considering that the canine alert may have given
the officers additional reason to think that there was contraband in the house.
Plaintiffs also claim that one of the officers used excessive force to stop plaintiff Nelson
Edwards from going into the house during the search. According to Mr. Edwards, he arrived
during the search and, surprised to see police activity, attempted to run into the house, rushing
past a number of police officers on his deck. (See Pls.’ LR 56.1 Resp. ¶ 46.) One officer raised
a hand to forcibly stop him, telling him there was a police dog inside and Mr. Edwards could not
enter at the moment. (Id.) Even assuming that plaintiffs’ account is true, as the Court must
(although other witnesses did not report seeing any pushing or shoving (see id. ¶¶ 47, 55)), this
use of force was not constitutionally unreasonable under the circumstances. The officer who
stopped Mr. Edwards saw a man rushing past police officers into a house during a police search
of that house pursuant to a warrant. Plaintiffs argue that Mr. Edwards was 72 years old and
“frail” at the time, but “the ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the
perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989) (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)). “‘Not
every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge’s
embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second
judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount
of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396-97 (quoting
Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1033 (2d Cir. 1973) overruled on other grounds by Graham,
490 U.S. at 393-94). This is a case in which the Court must allow for the fact that the officer was
forced to make a “split-second judgment” about the best way to stop a man who was trying to
rush past him into the house without asking permission and whose intentions were unknown.
The officer used a minimal amount of force that caused no injury. That is not objectively
unreasonable under the circumstances.
Because defendants are not liable on the underlying claims of constitutional violations,
plaintiffs’ supervisory liability, failure to intervene, and indemnification claims also fail.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court grants defendants’ motion for summary
judgment  and denies plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment . Civil case
ENTERED: March 27, 2017
HON. JORGE ALONSO
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