Mudd v. City of Fort Wayne et al
OPINION AND ORDER: GRANTING 18 MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM by Defendants Fran Gull, Karen Richards. Signed by Senior Judge James T Moody on 3/6/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(lhc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
CITY OF FORT WAYNE, et al.,
No: 1:16 CV 221
OPINION and ORDER
Plaintiff Boris Mudd claims that he was involved in a traffic stop which led to his
arrest. Plaintiff further alleges that he refused all field sobriety tests, and that defendant
Karen Richards, an Indiana prosecutor, sought a warrant from defendant Fran Gull, an
Indiana judge, for blood withdrawal. Plaintiff attests that Judge Gull signed the warrant
but he refused withdrawal. According to plaintiff, Richards initiated contempt charges
and plaintiff served several months in the Allen County Jail as a result. Plaintiff sued for
violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, violations of the Indiana
Constitution, and for damages based upon common law tort claims.
Judge Gull and Richards have moved to dismiss the claims against them on the
basis of immunity (and other grounds, which the court need not discuss here) pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which requires dismissal of any complaint
which fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (DE # 18.) Plaintiff
responded, defendants replied, and the motion is ripe for ruling.
Judge Gull argues that she is protected by absolute immunity for the claims
against her (specifically, the claim that she wrongfully signed a warrant). The Supreme
Court has recognized that a judge acting in her judicial capacity is absolutely immune
from suit. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978). Plaintiff argues that Judge Gull
is not protected by absolute immunity because by signing the warrant, she was acting
as a clerk, not as a judge. However, the Seventh Circuit has held that signing a warrant
is a judicial act protected by absolute judicial immunity. Walrath v. United States, 35 F.3d
277, 282 (7th Cir. 1994). Accordingly, plaintiff’s claims against Judge Gull are dismissed.
Similarly, Richards argues that she is entitled to absolute immunity for the claims
against her. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Richards sought a search warrant from
Judge Gull and later initiated an indirect contempt charge against plaintiff when he
failed to comply with the warrant. Both of these actions are protected by absolute
judicial immunity under the law of this circuit. Thomas v. City of Peoria, 580 F.3d 633,
638–39 (7th Cir. 2009) (recognizing absolute immunity for prosecutor who filed for an
arrest warrant); Berg v. Cwiklinski, 416 F.2d 929, 931 (7th Cir. 1969) (recognizing absolute
immunity for prosecutor who recommended finding of contempt against defendant).
Accordingly, plaintiff’s claims against Richards are also dismissed.
For the reasons set forth above, the motion of defendants Gull and Richards to
dismiss the claims against them is GRANTED. (DE # 18.)
Date: March 6, 2017
s/James T. Moody________________
JUDGE JAMES T. MOODY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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