Armstrong v. Rath
MEMORANDUM Order. Signed by the Honorable Milton I. Shadur on 1/10/2017:Mailed notice(clw, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Case No. 17 C 72
Craig Armstrong ("Armstrong") has bombarded this District Court with a volley of
Complaints filed last week (on January 4), and the one identified in the case caption has been
assigned at random to this Court's calendar. In this instance Armstrong's self-prepared
submission has employed the Clerk's-Office-supplied form of "Complaint for Violation of
Constitutional Rights," and he has used it to charge defendant William Rath ("Rath") with having
rendered "ineffective assistance of counsel" in a criminal case back in June 2012 (see Complaint
But Armstrong's lawsuit faces a number of problems, both procedural and substantive.
On what might be termed the procedural side, Armstrong has neither paid the $400 filing fee nor
sought in forma pauperis treatment, so that his case could not go forward at this point in any
event. But although that deficiency might perhaps be cured (as is true of Armstrong's failure to
have provided the required Civil Cover Sheet), his action's substantive deficiency cannot.
In that respect Armstrong charges that Rath, then acting as his criminal defense counsel,
violated his constitutional rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. But if attorney
Rath was a public defender, it has long been established that such lawyers do not act under color
of law so as to be subject to possible liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (see Polk County v.
Dotson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981)), while if Rath was a retained counsel any charge of lawyer
malpractice on his part would not be assertable in the federal courts because of the absence of
diversity of citizenship.
Under the circumstances this Court sees no point in deferring the disposition of this
action to await the inevitable dispositive motion by Rath. Instead both Armstrong's Complaint
and this action are dismissed sua sponte.
Milton I. Shadur
Senior United States District Judge
Date: January 10, 2017
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