Tidwell v. Menard C.C. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 32 Motion; finding as moot 39 Motion for Order to Show Cause; denying 40 Motion for Extension of Time; denying 41 Motion show cause; denying 42 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Cleother Tidwell is SANCTIONED with a $500 fine, to be paid before any other civil litigation will be filed. This fine is in addition to any other filing fees owed to this District. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to return all civil pleadings u nfiled until the sanction is paid, and all habeas corpus filings will be summarily dismissed thirty days after filing, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Documents submitted in connection with an appeal are excluded from the sanction. Signed by Judge Staci M. Yandle on 8/10/2017. (jaj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
MORGAN TEAS, and
MR. SHANE GREGSON,
Case No. 16−cv–0384−SMY
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
YANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Cleother Tidwell is currently incarcerated in Lawrence Correctional
Center. This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s “Motion to Show Cause” (Doc. 39), filed in
response to the Court’s Show Cause Order. (Doc. 31). Additionally, Plaintiff has four pending
motions that require attention. (Docs. 32, 40, 41 and 42). For the reasons set forth herein,
Plaintiff will be sanctioned with a fine and a filing ban. Plaintiff’s pending motions (Docs. 32,
40, 41 and 42) are DENIED.
Plaintiff is a frequent litigator in the federal courts, having initiated twenty other actions
in Illinois District Courts since 1996. His pleadings, briefs and oral argument are often replete
with irrelevant, inflammatory and offensive commentary. See e.g., Case No. 16-cv-41-MJRSCW Doc. 56, p. 27 (asking a witness on proper dental care: “If I catch AIDS, would you then
say to me, Look you’re gay, you got it from homosexual sex, you’re going to die?”); Case No.
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16-cv-384, Doc. 22, pp. 10-11 (presenting “rhetorical questions” about serial rapists, prisoners
who “bang little boys in the butt,” “booty bandits” and suggesting that Plaintiff should “grab
some Vaseline”); Case No. 10-cv-974-JPG, Doc. 194 (“Obvious Objection” accusing the
presiding judge of having an improper sexual relationship with one of the attorney generals
representing the defendants in Plaintiff’s § 1983 suit). Plaintiff is particularly fond of injecting
inappropriate and vulgar hypotheticals into his argument. See e.g., Case No. 16-cv-41-MJRSCW, Doc. 21 (presenting a “hyperbolic [sic] illustration” describing the rape of a 19 year old
girl in order to argue that the denial of his TRO regarding dental care was unjust); Case No. 16cv-384-SMY, Doc. 25, p. 34 (hypothetical pertaining to conjugal visits). On more than one
occasion, Plaintiff has disparaged the undersigned directly and/or by including thinly veiled
provocative statements and hypotheticals in his pleadings. See e.g., Case No. 16-cv-595-SMY,
Doc. 8 (satire regarding “judge Yancy” and a sexual harassment allegation from an “Amanda
Lickalot.”); Case No. 16-cv-595-SMY, Doc. 14 (“Notice” regarding “How to Appeal a[n]
Obstinate Judge”); Case No. 16-cv-384-SMY, Doc. 28 (“Court Update” addressing the
undersigned judge as “mean lady,” repeatedly calling the undersigned judge “bogish,” and
commenting on newspaper articles mentioning the undersigned judge); Case No. 16-cv-384SMY, Doc. 22, p. 8 ( “SMY is doing her own thang on the bench, it seems I shouldn’t be
surprised. My grandmother would’ve sighed and said ‘that’s how Black folks act when dey get a
lil sumtin’ rest in peace grandma. I got this one.”); Case No. 16-cv-384-SMY, Doc. 25
(hypothetical involving attorney “SMY” wherein Plaintiff says (to attorney “SMY”): “Look here
you dark colored negro wearing those 2 (cheap) diamond studded earrings my name is not
steppin fetchit, it is your job-not mine to locate the named witnesses I gave you that were present
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at the hair salon…”); Case No. 16-cv-384-SMY, Doc. 25, pp. 37-39 (insulting commentary
directed at the undersigned judge).
Plaintiff has been warned 3 times about his inappropriate and abusive filings. Two of the
warnings were issued by the undersigned who expressly advised Plaintiff that if he continued to
file frivolous and abusive pleadings, he would be subject to monetary sanctions and filing bans.
See Tidwell v. Butler et al., Case No. 16-595-SMY (Doc. 11, p. 6); Tidwell v. Butler et al., Case
No. 16-595-SMY (Doc. 15, p. 2).
Undeterred, On June 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed an abusive and frivolous pleading in the
instant action (“Rule 54(b) Motion”). (Doc. 27). The Rule 54(b) Motion, filed after the Court
vacated its dismissal of the First Amended Complaint and while Plaintiff’s Second Amended
Complaint was on file and pending 1915(A) review, raised objections to the Court’s dismissal of
Plaintiff’s original Complaint and First Amended Complaint. 1 Thus, Plaintiff’s motion,
complaining about a vacated dismissal order, was patently frivolous. Moreover, the motion
included disparaging commentary directed at the Court. Accordingly, the Court ordered Plaintiff
to show cause why he should not be sanctioned and subjected to a filing ban. (Doc. 31).
Preliminary Matter - Second Rule 54(b) Motion
The same day the Court docketed the Show Cause Order, Plaintiff filed a second Rule
54(b) Motion. Plaintiff asserts that he is filing the motion to preserve for appeal the fact that the
“good lady” in the Southern District of Illinois issued a “B-O-G-I-S-H” ruling. (Doc. 32). Once
again, it appears that Plaintiff is raising objections to a vacated order of dismissal. Additionally,
Plaintiff states he is filing the motion as a preemptory challenge to the Court’s “forthcoming
Plaintiff was clearly aware of the status of the litigation. He filed a Second Amended Complaint as directed by the
Court. (Docs. 23, 25). Additionally, he filed a Notice (Doc. 24) acknowledging that the Court had reopened the case
and was allowing Plaintiff to file a Second Amended Complaint.
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dismissal” of Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 32, p. 3). The pleading includes
Plaintiff’s trademark disrespectful commentary. (See Doc. 32, p. 2 (the “good lady in the
Southern District” is “one mean sister”); Doc. 32, p. 3 (“so mean lady in the Southern District”);
Doc. 32, p. 3 (accusing the Court of giving “a wink & a nod to Menard prison”); Doc. 32, pp. 3-5
(giving the Court a “pop quiz” on how “real judges” are supposed to review certain types of
claims and closing the motion with a hyperbolic class of students yelling “YOU! BOGISH!” at
the undersigned judge)).
Filing a motion attacking a vacated order of dismissal is frivolous. Raising a preemptive
argument disputing a nonexistent order is also frivolous. 2 Plaintiff’s disrespectful and sarcastic
commentary is unnecessary and inappropriate. Meritless motion practice such as this has “[a
significant] cumulative effect in clogging the process of the court and in burdening judges and
staff to the detriment of litigants having cases.” International, Inc. v. Mack, 45 F.3d 185, 185
(7th Cir. 1995). For these reasons, Plaintiff’s Rule 54(b) Motion (Doc. 32) is DENIED without
Show Cause Response and Issuance of Sanctions
In reviewing Plaintiff’s response to the Court’s Order to Show Cause (Doc. 39), it is
immediately evident that Plaintiff does not take the Court’s Show Cause Order seriously and has
no regrets about his prior vexatious pleadings. He opens his responsive pleading by addressing
the undersigned judge as “My Dear” and explains that the salutation is taken from a song written
by Marvin Gaye about his ex-wife. (Doc. 39, p. 1). Plaintiff’s response (which he describes as
the “Show Cause or else” order) (emphasis added) is peppered with sarcastic and disrespectful
commentary directed the undersigned. (See Doc. 39, p. 2 (stating “hell hath no fury like a
As it turned out, the “forthcoming dismissal” Plaintiff predicted did not come to fruition. The same day the motion
was filed, the Court entered an order referring Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint for further review. (Doc. 30).
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wom[a]n scorned,” in connection to the Court’s threat to sanction Plaintiff); Doc. 39, p. 4
(suggesting that the undersigned judge is “thin skinned” and lacks common sense); Doc. 39, p. 4
(stating “You remind me of the line in Shakespeare “the lady doth protest to[o] much.”); Doc.
39, p. 4 (offering to withdraw everything the Court “tripped about” and stating “I hope it makes
Plaintiff’s substantive response to the Court’s Show Cause Order is buried in the middle
of this nonsense. Distilled to its essence, Plaintiff contends that it would be wrong to sanction
him for repeating “corny” phrases he heard from the “old folks” when he was growing up or for
“talking country,” particularly without “firing a warning shot.” (Doc. 39, pp. 3-4). This is a
gross misrepresentation of Plaintiff’s litigation history. The Court is not considering sanctions
because Plaintiff talks “country.” Rather, as Plaintiff is well aware, the Court is considering
sanctions because – despite receiving prior “warning shots” – Plaintiff continues to submit
meritless pleadings that contain disrespectful and inappropriate commentary. See In re Mann,
229 F.3d 657, 659 (7th Cir. 2000) (warning pro se litigant that abusive and disparaging language
could result in sanctions); Alexander v. United States, 121 F.3d 312 (7th Cir. 1997) (finding that
courts have inherent authority to protect themselves from vexatious litigation and imposing a
$500 fine and entering a filing ban pursuant to Support Systems International, Inc. v. Mack, 45
F.3d 185 (7th Cir.1995)).
Enough is enough. Plaintiff’s pattern of conduct demonstrates that he has no
compunction for filing meritless and disrespectful pleadings. His cavalier response to the Show
Cause Order convinces the Court that sanctions are necessary in order to prevent further
frivolous and harassing filings in this Court.
The Court is also persuaded that monetary
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sanctions alone are unlikely to deter future misconduct. Accordingly, Plaintiff will be sanctioned
with a fine and a filing ban as set forth in the Disposition below.
Additional Pending Motions
Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 40) referencing a deadlines of
June 28, 2017 and July 24, 2017. Plaintiff’s concern with respect to these deadlines appears to
be the need to obtain a trust fund account statement in support of an IFP Motion. A review of
the docket reveals that Plaintiff’s trust fund account statement is on file. (Doc. 2). Therefore,
Plaintiff’s Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 40) is DENIED as unnecessary. 3 The Court
notes, however, that Plaintiff still has not filed an IFP Motion or paid the filing fee for the instant
action. As a result, this action remains subject to dismissal for failure to comply with prior court
orders and/or for want of prosecution under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).
Plaintiff has also filed a Motion for Offer to Settle (Doc. 41) in which he states that he
will agree to consent to having the case proceed before a magistrate judge if the Court agrees to a
settlement. Obviously, the Court cannot agree to a settlement on behalf of the defendants.
Moreover, the decision to consent to having the case proceed before a magistrate judge is not a
bartering chip; it is a voluntarily decision to be made by each party. Accordingly, the Motion for
Offer to Settle (Doc. 41) is DENIED.
Finally, Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 42). The instant
case involves alleged constitutional violations committed by officials at Menard Correctional
Center (“Menard”). (Doc. 25). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that officials at Menard violated his
The Court is partly to blame for this confusion. In its referral order (Doc. 30), the Court advised Plaintiff that he
had until July 24, 2017 to file an IFP Motion or pay the filing fee. The Court also instructed Plaintiff to file a trust
fund account statement. However, further review of the docket reveals that a trust fund account statement is on file.
(Doc. 2). Plaintiff, however, still has not filed an IFP Motion or paid the filing fee.
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rights by reading and censoring his outgoing legal mail.
Plaintiff is presently housed at
Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). Plaintiff’s motion also asserts that an official at
Lawrence (Heather Cecil) recently read Plaintiff’s outgoing legal mail. Plaintiff asks the Court
to issue a preliminary injunction directed at Heather Cecil. But Heather Cecil is not a defendant
in this case. To the Court’s knowledge, Plaintiff does not currently have an action proceeding
against Heather Cecil. Plaintiff cannot seek injunctive relief against this individual without first
initiating a lawsuit against her. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction
(Doc. 42) is DENIED.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Cleother Tidwell is SANCTIONED with a $500 fine,
to be paid before any other civil litigation will be filed. This fine is in addition to any other filing
fees owed to this District. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to return all civil pleadings unfiled
until the sanction is paid, and all habeas corpus filings will be summarily dismissed thirty days
after filing, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Documents submitted in connection with an
appeal are excluded from the sanction.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s pending motions (Docs. 32, 40, 41, and
42) are DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: August 10, 2017
s/ Staci M. Yandle
United States District Judge
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