Collins v. Clarke et al
ORDER DISMISSING CASE. The claims and the entire action against Defendants CLARKE and FARRIS are DISMISSED with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff is advised that this dismissal shall count as one of hi s allotted strikes under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Plaintiffs obligation to pay the filing fee for this action was incurred at the time the action was filed, thus the filing fee of $350 remains due and payable. Signed by Judge Michael J. Reagan on 8/20/2012. (tjk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
WILLIAM E. COLLINS, # B-87842
HON. MARK H. CLARKE, and
JEFFREY B. FARRIS, ESQ.,
Case No. 12-cv-802-MJR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
REAGAN, District Judge:
Plaintiff William E. Collins, currently incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional
Center, is serving a 27 year sentence for drug trafficking. He has brought this pro se civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Clarke, the presiding judge in his
underlying criminal case and Defendant Farris, the state prosecutor. Collins alleges prosecutorial
misconduct, malicious prosecution and that he was not afforded a fair trial.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:
(a) Screening.– The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in
any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil
action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal.– On review, the court shall identify
cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the
complaint, if the complaint–
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Upon review of the complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its
authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.
In essence, Plaintiff Collins sues Defendant Judge Clarke for his rulings and
evidentiary determinations during trial. According to the complaint, the judge was biased, and
among other things he allowed perjured testimony and premised his order denying Collins’
motion to suppress on inaccurate facts. Collins also contends that Clarke was aware that Collins
was not receiving effective assistance of counsel.
Judges, being sued solely for judicial acts, are protected by absolute judicial
immunity. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991); Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219, 225-29
(1988); Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 335, 347, 20 L.Ed. 646 (1872); Richman v.
Sheahan, 270 F.3d 430, 434 (7th Cir. 2001); Scruggs v. Moellering, 870 F.2d 376, 377 (7th Cir.),
cert. denied, 493 U.S. 956 (1989).
Therefore, the claim(s) against Judge Clarke shall be
dismissed with prejudice.
Collins alleges that the prosecutor, Farris, violated his Fourth Amendment rights
by withholding unspecified exculpatory evidence, and by prosecuting the case based on a traffic
stop Farris knew was unlawful. Like, Judge Clarke, Farris is entitled to absolute immunity under
The Supreme Court has recognized that prosecutors may be, but are not always
entitled to absolute immunity, depending upon the function the defendant was performing.
Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 269 (1993). In Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431
(1976), the Supreme Court held that a state prosecutor had absolute immunity for the initiation
and pursuit of a criminal prosecution, including presentation of the state's case at trial.
In contrast, if the prosecutor was acting more in an investigatory, the prosecutor would only be
entitled to the qualified immunity afforded to law enforcement officials. Buckley, 509 U.S. at
269-270. The complaint only alleges misconduct in the presentation of the case at trial, and
possibly during a preliminary hearing, thereby entitling Farris to absolute immunity. Therefore,
the claim(s) against Defendant Farris shall be dismissed with prejudice.1
The claims and the entire action against Defendants CLARKE and FARRIS are
DISMISSED with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Plaintiff is advised that this dismissal shall count as one of his allotted “strikes”
under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Plaintiff’s obligation to pay the filing fee for this
action was incurred at the time the action was filed, thus the filing fee of $350 remains due and
payable. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); Lucien v. Jockisch, 133 F.3d 464, 467 (7th Cir. 1998).
The Clerk shall CLOSE this case and final judgment shall enter.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: August 20, 2012
s/ Michael J. Reagan
MICHAEL J. REAGAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481-482, 487 (1994), dictates that when a claim for damages would
“necessarily” undermine an existing conviction the damages claim is not cognizable until the conviction has been
invalidated—it must be dismissed. Because the Court has determined that absolute immunity protects Defendants
from suit, Heck is not addressed by the Court.
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